MVP expects rivals to 'beat up on me'

NATHAN BURDON
Last updated 05:00 27/02/2014
Southern Steel shooter Jhaniele Fowler-Reid
NET RETURNS: Southern Steel shooter Jhaniele Fowler-Reid is excited about Sunday’s season opener against the Queensland Firebirds.

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What do you do when you were the best player in the competition in your rookie season?

Hopefully, you do it again.

That's Jhaniele Fowler-Reid's mantra this season as she looks to back up from her MVP efforts for the Southern Steel in last year's trans-Tasman league.

"I take motivation from it, because everyone is on me saying ‘second year blues'. I came into last year just trying to get my foot in. I'm basically learning from my season last year."

Fowler-Reid twice shot a record 65 goals in a game last season - both times against the hapless Tactix - and finished the campaign with a remarkable 666 goals at 93.9 per cent.

Only her Jamaican compatriot Romelda Aiken (667) scored more, and she played an extra three games.

Fowler-Reid was predictably named the competition's best goal shooter, its best new talent and the overall most valuable player.

It was some sort of season.

Fowler-Reid and Aiken will square off from either end of the court at Stadium Southland on Sunday, and the Steel goal shoot is aware any team will be working hard to nullify her presence.

"I think one of the things they have already identified is stopping the ball coming in. They will be trying to concentrate on my wing attack and my centre, but then I don't think they will be able to do that, because I have pretty good centre-court players."

Fowler-Reid is also expecting opposition teams to try to get more physical in the shooting circle, and it's something she's tried to prepare for with Steel strength and conditioning coach Simon Jones.

"They are going to try and wear me down by beating up on me, and that's why I have Jonesy, to make me physically strong to take those hits and maybe give a few back."

The biggest change this season for Fowler-Reid will be having husband Andre and the couple's 4-year-old daughter, Drehannah, alongside her.

"It's extremely better for me. I hope it's going to be good for my game as well, because not having them last year was hard - there were times I was on court and my mind would drift back home. It's good having them here."

nathan.burdon@stl.co.nz

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