Crofts still keen to get Southern Steel spot
Talented Southland midcourter Hayley Crofts has not given up on her dream of playing for Southern Steel in the trans-Tasman netball league.
The former Southland Girls' High School student has previously played in the world's premier club competition for the Central Pulse in 2008, and Canterbury Tactix in 2010, but has never gained a contract with her hometown franchise.
Crofts, who is the most experienced player in this year's Southland squad, will be targeting a strong national provincial campaign with Southland as she looks to catch the eye of Steel coaches Janine Southby and Natalie Avellino.
"It's definitely a goal," Crofts said yesterday. "I've just got to wait and see how I go at NPC level and see if anything eventuates from that.
"It'd be really nice to represent the Steel. It's something that's never quite turned out."
Southland open their division two campaign against Western in Hawera on Sunday and Crofts said her young team-mates were looking forward to testing themselves at provincial level.
With Pulse players Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit, Amber Bellringer and former Steel wing defence Erika Maifea, nee Burgess, in their ranks, Western will rate themselves as one of the favourites in the division.
Southland have named an inexperienced squad for the NPC, with eight players in line to make their debut at the weekend, and six members of the side being under 20.
Southland's biggest strength will be in their midcourt, where Crofts, Kendall McMinn and Southern Steel player Hayley Saunders will be expected to lead the way.
"It's our job to really step and and take control of the midcourt and really help [the rest of the team out]," Crofts said.
Crofts, 23, made her NPC debut while still at high school, and was a member of the Southland team that won the national title in 2008.
She is back wearing the maroon dress after a couple of seasons up in Canterbury, and said it was always an honour to represent her home province.
"It's such a privilege to play for your province, and give back what they've given to you, over the years."
Southland experienced a fall from grace last year, dropping down to second division, after losing their promotion-relegation game against Waikato.
Crofts said they were determined to get back into first grade and their young squad were bullish about their prospects.
"It's a real goal for us. You want to be in that first grade.
"The girls are really disappointed they dropped down last year. I definitely think we can do it, with the team we've got."
Sunday's game gets under way at 11am.
Southland team: Sarah Hayman, Emma Millard, Eden Millan, Kendall McMinn, Hayley Crofts, Hayley Saunders, Suz Black, Rachael Fahy, Sara Bartley, Tegan Hunt, Lucy Robins.
Coach: Reinga Te Huia.
- © Fairfax NZ News