Frew back doing the hard yards in preparation
Sessions with Steel trainer Simon Jones are something Wendy Frew has come to love and loathe over the summer.
Frew is on the comeback trail after the birth of son, Archie, five months ago, the longest break she has had during her sporting career.
"I've been the only one [in Invercargill] over the summer, so for the past couple of months I've had one-on-ones with Jonesy," she said.
"We've gone back to the basics, pretty much teaching the body to lift weights again and do sessions.
"A lot of the sessions are cruel. He loves putting me in the hurt box.
"He did a few sessions on the treadmill at the start, just getting me used to it which, for me, was running for three minutes and walking for one minute, which was hard enough at the time.
"He likes to thrash me at the athletics track - I know when I'm going there it's going to be a long road." For Frew, other than a shoulder reconstruction a couple of years ago, the past 12 months have been her only sustained break from the sport and holding herself back has been difficult.
"It was tough. I have a lot of respect for Jonesy and he laid the law down and said I couldn't do anything outside what he wanted me to do," she said.
"At times I was feeling really good and wanted to do extra, but after coming back from a [C-section] you've got to be really smart.
"If you do things your muscles and your core aren't up to, you can cause damage.
"For once in my life I actually sat down and listened, just made sure I did every little detail he said.
"I think that's why I'm hitting good fitness levels now."
The former Silver Ferns midcourter will return to the squad as the team's vice-captain under skipper Jodi Brown this year.
"I'm really excited about working under Jodes," Frew said.
"She's a great player and a great leader. Being out of the game for a year and being asked to come into that role makes me more determined to get back on track come that first game."
Despite that, Frew is not expecting to walk back into the starting lineup.
She predicts it will be several months before she is back to full fitness, although she hopes to be at some sort of level for the opening game against the Firebirds, in Brisbane, on March 24.
"I've got a wee bit of concern, being out of the game for a year, and the midcourt is really strong for the Steel," Frew said.
"I know that if I do the hard work, and get to where I want to be for that first game, that I can push a few of those girls. I've got to perform if I want to be in that starting seven.
"That's the goal, but I know it isn't going to be easy."
Frew enjoyed a stint in the broadcast media during her pregnancy, offering some typically honest input during pre-game buildups and commentaries.
It's something she would like to explore further once her playing days have come to an end, but for now there's the job of combining being a professional athlete with being a young mother.
"A lot of people have said that it changes you and a lot of the netball girls have spoken to me about coming back after a kid and playing," Frew said.
"For me it's still early days and I haven't experienced a lot of that.
"When you are away from the wee man you certainly miss him and you want to put in 100 per cent so you aren't wasting that hour.
"Trent and I have got fantastic families and we've got great support on both sides and some really good friends who are going to come on board.
"When I head away and Trent is at work we've got people who we trust and know will do a fantastic job.
"It makes it easier going away to know that there are people who love him and he's in good hands."
- The Southland Times