Steel excited to get onto stadium's centre court

NATHAN BURDON
Last updated 05:00 28/02/2014

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Southern Steel will get their first chance to tread the boards of the rebuilt Stadium Southland's centre court tomorrow.

Steel have been training on the stadium's outlying community courts during the buildup to the trans-Tasman season opener against the Queensland Firebirds at home on Sunday.

Jodi Brown, who will lead the Ascot Park Hotel-sponsored team again this season, said the players were looking forward to getting out onto the main court for the first time since the stadium was destroyed after heavy snowfall in 2010.

They will train there tomorrow and have a walk-through on Sunday before tipoff at 7.20pm.

"We are pretty excited about that. We've seen all the preparation which has gone into the main court and we are dying to get on there. Every time we've gone there for training we've been asking if we can try out the hoops. It's an amazing facility but what makes it really amazing is the crowd and we will be relying on them as well."

Brown jokingly suggested the Steel shooters, including her, will be looking to get acquainted with the posts because they tend to spend a lot of time being knocked into them by defenders in today's physical game.

"We get a couple of cracks at it before the big show, so hopefully the shooters can bond with the posts and make love to them."

Brown, who has managed a calf injury to be fit for the start of the season, said she was excited about leading the team again.

"It's a good honour. We've gone through a process to make sure that I'm still the right fit and it's going to work. It's been a good process to go through because we have all learnt about leadership along the way," she said.

"It feels like we are a step ahead of last year, rather than starting again."

A major talking point of last season was Brown's shooting contribution for Steel.

While goal shoot Jhaniele Fowler-Reid averaged 51 goals per game at 93 per cent accuracy last year, Brown averaged just over 10 goals a game.

"I think we are adding more strings to our bow, so to speak. Last year we were still learning to play with each other and we found a way to play which was good for us and for the Steel," Brown said.

"We got to a point where we didn't want to change it but, during the offseason, we both identified things we want to work on and we've come in with a different approach, obviously balancing that shooting load and making sure the feeders can see both Jhaniele and I and having the confidence that Jhaniele is there for the rebounds."

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- The Southland Times

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