Jamaican netball defender Malysha Kelly and promising duo complete Southern Steel squad
The Southern Steel have continued their Jamaican connection with their latest signing as they look to defend their title in 2018.
The 1.85m defender will add international flair to the Southern Steel's defensive ranks for the 2018 ANZ Premiership and joins fellow defender Abby Erwood and shooter Jennifer O'Connell as the last three player signings announced.
According to Steel coach Reinga Bloxham, the Steel management were keeping an eye on a few players throughout the contracting process to replace the departing duo of Jhaniele Fowler-Reid and Jane Watson.
"Malysha was one of the people we were interested in looking at," she said.
Kelly's friendship with former Southern Steel shooter Fowler-Reid was also a factor in her selection.
"There's a connection there with Jhaniele, as well, Jhaniele had talked to us about her, so she was pointed out to us by a few people, so it was a matter of doing a bit of homework and seeing who we thought would fit our team best, so that's how it all came about," Bloxham said.
"I'm really pleased with having her signed and part of our team and I am really looking forward to her coming over and joining us."
A stalwart of the Jamaican squad since 2008, Kelly competed at the 2011 Netball World Championships and has a bronze medal from the 2014 Commonwealth Games to her credit.
She's no stranger to plying her netball trade globally after recent campaigns with the Adelaide Thunderbirds in Australia's Suncorp Super League and the Manchester Thunder in the UK's Superleague.
"I think that is the edge she provides for us, so having that little bit of experience and a couple of years up her sleeve and away from home is definitely going to help when she comes here, she's been in a tough training environment over in Australia as well," Bloxham said.
"So all of that is going to help her prepare best to come and join us."
Steel coach Reinga Bloxham felt Kelly would add a new dynamic on defence as the team strived to defend their national premiership title and Super Club titles won this year.
"I spoke to Thunderbirds coach Dan Ryan and some of the words he used to describe her were tenacious, strong, hard-working, a team player and he felt her style of netball would be very suited to the style we play in New Zealand," she said.
"She's a very aerial player and our style will give her time to attack the ball in the air. We like to use space, look for the ball and hunt and I think it's exciting that she is that type of player."
Kelly will be joined in the defensive circle by Erwood, a member of the NZ U21 team which secured gold at the World Youth Championships in Botswana last month, while shooter O'Connell will boost the Steel's attack in 2018.
The three signings complete the Southern Steel's 10-player roster for their 2018 title defence.
At a glance
Southern Steel squad: Jennifer O'Connell, Te Paea Selby-Rickit, Olivia Bates, Gina Crampton, Shannon Francois, Wendy Frew, Dani Gray, Te Huinga Selby-Rickit, Abby Erwood, Malysha Kelly.