Ending a four-year national title drought is not top of the agenda for New Plymouth Girls' High School, with new coach Aimee Watkins happy to settle for a top-four finish in Palmerston North, starting today.
Girls' High dominated the national knockout competition last decade, winning six titles in a row before they hit a lean patch.
While Watkins does not expect to bring a first title since 2008 back to New Plymouth, she still thinks her young side will be competitive.
"It's taken a couple of years to build this team up but saying that, we've only got one year 12 player and the rest are year 11, 10 and nine," she said. "Hopefully we can build on what we do here and have another two or three successful years. I think if we can make it into the top half, the top four this year, personally I would be happy with that."
Girls' High had to get past Inglewood High School, Sacred Heart Girls' College and Palmerston North Girls' High School to qualify for the national finals, which is now run in a Twenty20 format involving eight finalists, although that has been reduced to seven after defending champion Christchurch Girls' High School pulled out.
"It was a bit of a shock to beat Palmerston because they had beaten us by about 50 runs in a school exchange match," Watkins said.
Girls' High will, however, have to face Palmerston North first up in the finals after the home side won a reprieve after an Auckland qualifier also pulled out.
Watkins is hoping her side can provide a few problems for its opposition at the bowling crease because New Plymouth are stacked with spinners.
"We're going with two leg-spinners [Emily Cunningham and Eliss Davies] and an off-spinner [Bryda Chamberlain] because girls play spin horribly," she said.
Co-captain Huia Brady will open the bowling with her medium pace. The side's other co-captain, Davies, will lead the batting lineup along with Ashley Murray, while Watkins also expects Cunningham to be among the runs.
NEW PLYMOUTH GIRLS' HIGH SCHOOL: Huia Brady, Eliss Davies, Kelsey Husband, Claudia Fleming, Ashley Murray, Tayla Murray, Bryda Chamberlain, Emily Cunningham, Briana Latavao, Amy Foreman, Hannah Phillips, Erika Barr.
- Taranaki Daily News
How will the Hurricanes do in 2015?Related story: Supporting players light up Hurricanes bright start to Super Rugby season
Get Taranaki's frequent news and sport updates