Southern Steel go into home-grown mode
Five further players put pen to paper with Southern Steel yesterday but it is likely to be the announcement of the final two players next week that will create the most interest.
Steel's announcement yesterday backed their stance of growing their own talent and also building for the future through a group of young players.
Shooter Kate Shearer and midcourters Stacey Peeters and Gina Crampton have earned inaugural contracts on the back of Otago's national provincial championships title last month.
While Peeters was part of the champion Otago team, she does add another Southland connection to the Steel team, with her being from Gore.
Steel have added even more youth to their squad with the recruitment of New Zealand under-21 defender Phoenix Karaka, from Auckland.
Following an impressive campaign earlier this year, Phillipa Finch has also re-signed with Steel.
Knowing they can not have a recruitment process of buying a title winning team, Steel have shown an obvious eagerness to recruit young players with the prospect of becoming a force in the future.
The preference is to develop players within the region, which Janine Southby acknowledged yesterday when the players were named.
"It's exciting to know our locally based players can see a clearly identified pathway from representative teams into the high-performance environment of the Steel," she said.
"Our intention is to really develop local players where possible. We need to provide them with opportunities to learn and grow in the elite environment so they are aware of the step-up that's required at ANZ Championship level.
"Recruiting is really tough and we have to be proactive in growing our own depth."
A new players' collective agreement allows franchises to secure squads of up to 14 players. While the final two places are considered development roles, coaches do have scope to select from the full squad for each games.
"It does provide more flexibility. Our aim is to establish a competitive but supportive team environment where players have to constantly be at the top of their game in order to secure their place," Southby said.
Steel are expected to announce next week the final two players to make up the 14-person squad.
One of those two players is likely to be an overseas import, which it is hoped will add a bit of punch to a very young and inexperienced team.
"We are in the final stages of negotiating with a player we believe will bring considerable experience and flair to our team," Steel chief executive David Bannister said.
Stacey Peeters, Gina Crampton, Kate Shearer, Phoenix Karaka, Phillipa Finch, Jodi Brown, Shannon Francois, Courtney Tairi, Wendy Frew, Te Paea Selby-Rickit, Storm Purvis, Sulu Tone-Fitzpatrick. Two players to be confirmed
- The Southland Times