Storm Purvis tipped as star on the rise

BRENDON EGAN
Last updated 05:00 10/03/2012
Storm Purvis
ROBYN EDIE/Fairfax NZ
STORM BREWING: Southern Steel signing Storm Purvis is one of the bright lights of New Zealand netball.

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Southern Steel rookie Storm Purvis has certainly made dramatic progress for someone who only picked up a netball five years ago.

The 18-year-old was a talented 400m and 800m track runner growing up but, after struggling to regain her form after knee surgery, she opted to make the switch to netball and has never looked back.

Purvis was fast-tracked into her Diocesan School for Girls' senior A team in Auckland during Year 10 because of her towering 1.86m height and has gone from strength to strength.

In her final year at high school, she was selected in the New Zealand secondary schools team, which won the international netball challenge in Australia.

Her promise was further illustrated in 2009 when she was one of four players to be named in Netball New Zealand's national emerging talent accelerant group.

For the past two years, Purvis has been a member of the New Zealand under-21 squad, but her biggest accolade came last year when she received a surprise phone call from Steel co-coach Janine Southby.

Southby, who is also the New Zealand under-21 coach, rang to inform the young defender she had gained her first trans-Tasman netball league contract with Steel for the 2012 season – something which left Purvis speechless.

"I was very surprised. It was something I was aiming for in the next couple of years," Purvis said.

"To get it this year, I was shocked, but really excited."

Purvis, who is in the second year of a physical education degree at Otago University, said stepping up to the professional ranks from age-group and representative netball had already been a massive learning curve.

She is likely to gain only small amounts of court-time in her debut ANZ Championship season behind experienced Steel defenders Sheryl Scanlan and Demelza McCloud, but hopes to take advantage of any opportunities.

At last weekend's ANZ Championship pre-season tournament in Tauranga, Purvis faced a baptism of fire, marking up against some of the premier shooters in the game, including Irene van Dyk, Romelda Aiken and Caitlin Bassett.

Against the West Coast Fever's Australian Diamond shooting combination of Bassett and Cath Cox, Purvis and McCloud limited their opponents to just one goal in the opening six minutes of play, which she was thrilled about.

Marking up against some of the world's finest netball players still felt surreal, she said.

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"My first game [last weekend] was against Irene. I thought: `Is this happening?' It was a crazy experience. It's cool the coaches give everyone game time."

Purvis idolises Silver Ferns' captain and fellow defender Casey Williams and her playing style features strong similarities. She loves nothing better than going roaming for an intercept and is known for her rebounding and strength in the air with her height.

"They called me `Casey' up in Auckland," Purvis laughed.

"She's been my idol the last five years. I love her aggression and the way she goes hunting for the ball."

Southby said she has been pleased by Purvis' development during pre-season, especially with her strength and conditioning, and believed she was a player, who could become an important member of the Steel set-up in coming years.

"[The ANZ Championship] is a couple of levels up for her and is a huge step up. It's the start of a long journey for her.

"I like the way she hunts the ball and she reads the game really well ... There's a lot of work for her to do, but I see huge potential for her in the future."

Purvis has already attracted plenty of interest with her unusual first name. She said the story behind its origins was not as exciting as it sounded and was only too happy to set the record straight for The Southland Times.

"My family knew someone from Zimbabwe named Storm, and always liked the name.

"Everyone in my family has a normal name – apart from me," she smiled.

- The Southland Times

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