Hot shot to play for Steel

BY MAREE MAHONY
Last updated 05:00 22/09/2010

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Netball

Reinga Bloxham: Homegrown Southern Steel netball coach takes the reins Paint the town yellow during Wellington's triple header sports weekend Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic look to build on solid foundations as season starts Tactix coach Sue Hawkins must starting getting results Central Pulse mix excitement with preseason nerves as national netball competition begins South African shooter Lenize Potgieter full of excitement ahead of Magic debut Tactix recruit Temalisi Fakahokotau to miss opener through injury Former Waikato-BOP netball player Ngawai Eyles making an impression in the south Magic captain Casey Kopua relishing having a 'competitive aspect' to her life Southern Steel netball captain Wendy Frew is keen to get off to a strong start despite two early away fixtures

Sophia Fenwick's joy at being named in the Southern Steel netball squad turned to disbelief 48 hours later when the franchise's headquarters were reduced to scrap metal.

Ironically, the 17-year-old shooter was playing for Canterbury against Southland in a national provincial championship match in Rolleston when news of Stadium Southland's collapse filtered through.

"I started getting all these texts from people and I thought they were having me on," Fenwick says. "Afterwards, I was wondering if it was me – first the earthquake and now this, just when I'm about to move down there."

While the Rangi Ruru pupil has yet to hear officially from the franchise's bosses, she was relieved to learn that arrangements are being made to set up temporary courts to cater for the Steel.

With training for the ANZ championship beginning on November 8, Fenwick wants to make plans for part-time study or work that she can fit in around training and games, which begin in February.

A chance to move away from home and be independent was a major factor in Fenwick choosing to play for the Steel instead of the local Tactix.

"I had offers from both and I took some time to decide. I believe it will be a really good netball experience at the Steel, plus it's a chance to move away from Christchurch for a few months and see how I go."

She is excited she will be guided by one of New Zealand's best coaches, Robyn Broughton.

"I've heard some good things about her – that she's great at working with people my age."

With Paula Griffin and Daneka Wipiiti as the Steel's frontline shooters, Fenwick is not expecting huge amounts of game time.

"I'm mostly looking forward to learning a lot and getting feedback on how I can improve."

Given the fanatical support that helped drive the Steel to the semifinals this year, the teenager believes the netball community will recover from the stadium setback.

"I was on the bench for the Tactix there last year and it was amazing. It was so loud. The people down there love their netball and some travel from Dunedin to be part of it, so I'm sure that will carry on, no matter where we are playing."

While she looks forward to becoming a temporary Southlander, Fenwick is not losing sight of her immediate task – helping Canterbury to a high placing at the national championships in Auckland next week.

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