Southern Steel sign towering Jamaican
The Southern Steel can now boast the trans-Tasman netball league's tallest player in its ranks following the signing of towering Jamaican shooter Jhaniele Fowler.
At 1.98m Fowler eclipses her Jamaican team-mate Romelda Aiken, a pivotal member of the Queensland Firebirds, by 2cm and will prove an intimidating presence under the post for opposition teams to contend with.
Securing a championship contract has been an aspiration for the 23-year-old, who has been previously linked to the Adelaide Thunderbirds as a potential signing.
"The Steel presented itself and I know the Steel is a good team so I am excited to represent them," she said.
Fowler herself is eager to soak up the knowledge which will stem from playing alongside the world's best netballers in the trans-Tasman league – advancing both her own development and that of her compatriots.
"I'm very excited. My personal goal is to just get more experience in terms of playing with the elite players," she said.
"Our club league is not that strong in Jamaica so to play in the ANZ Championship is an opportunity that will not only benefit me but also netball in my country through the knowledge I can share."
Fowler will move to Invercargill and unite with her new Steel team-mates in January as they embark on an intensive pre-season build-up.
"I'm a team person so I am looking forward to meeting the rest of the team and management."
She will no doubt field plenty of questions regarding her move from the sunny climes of Jamaica to the deep South but it takes more than the region's reputation for unpredictable weather to faze her.
"I've been to other countries where it has been cold ... I will be able to adjust," she said.
"I have looked Invercargill up on the internet and I know it's very beautiful. It's going to be hard adjusting to living somewhere new for the first couple of months but I am excited for the opportunity."
Fowler has spent the past week in Auckland competing at the Fast5 Netball World Series and has relished the game's dynamic new format, especially the introduction of three-point shots at goal.
Slotting a match-winning long bomb – worth six on the scoreboard as it was during Jamaica's power play quarter where double points are awarded – to snatch a 32-31 victory over Malawi was among the highlights.
"It's very fun … the feeling when I netted that shot was awesome," she said.
Steel coach Janine Southby said while the franchise continued to have a strong focus on developing players, Fowler would inject some valuable international experience.
"Someone of Jhaniele's calibre is a real asset to us and obviously her height is going to be a bonus," Southby said.
"She's a really strong target for us on the court … she's going to add a different flavour and bring a different culture to the Steel which is exciting."
Fowler's signing completes the Steel squad for 2013.
Southern Steel squad for 2013: Shooters: Jhaniele Fowler, Jodi Brown, Te Paea Selby-Rickit, Kate Shearer. Midcourters: Courtney Tairi, Shannon Francois, Wendy Frew, Phillipa Finch, Gina Crampton, Stacey Peeters. Defenders: Sulu Tone-Fitzpatrick, Storm Purvis, Rachel Rasmussen, Phoenix Karaka.
- The Southland Times