History of Southern Steel

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The Southern Steel are a New Zealand netball team based in Invercargill that compete in the trans-Tasman ANZ Championship. The franchise was formed as an amalgamation of two teams from the National Bank Cup, the Dunedin-based Otago Rebels and the Invercargill-based Southern Sting. After the National Bank Cup was retired in 2007, the newly formed Steel joined four other New Zealand franchises in the new ANZ Championship, representing the New Zealand regions of Otago and Southland.

Home games in the ANZ Championship are usually played at Stadium Southland in Invercargill, with some matches also played at the Edgar Centre in Dunedin. For the 2011 season, most home games will be played in the Invercargill ILT Velodrome adjacent to Stadium Southland, after heavy snow caused the roof of the main venue to collapse.

Formation[edit]

The Southern Steel were formed as an amalgamation of two teams from the previous National Bank Cup: the Otago Rebels and the Southern Sting. The National Bank Cup played its final season in 2007, after which it was announced that a new trans-Tasman netball competition would replace it. Five New Zealand teams were approved for the new competition – three from the North Island, two from the South Island – in early May 2007, including one representing Southland and Otago.[1] Southern TeamCo was set up to develop the new Southland-Otago franchise. Robyn Broughton, coach of the Southern Sting that dominated the National Bank Cup, was appointed as head coach for the new team early in the development stage.[2] Donna Wilkins was signed as assistant coach in December that year.[3]

Suggestions were invited from the public for a name for the new franchise, but the most popular ideas – including 'Ice', 'Roar', 'Fusion' and 'Seanix' – were ruled out for various reasons. A brand-specialist company based in Christchurch was consulted, who came up with the name 'Steel'. This name was unanimously agreed upon by the Southern TeamCo board and announced in November 2007, along with the franchise's new logo.[4]

After prolonged negotiations between the New Zealand Players Association and Trans Tasman Netball Ltd, New Zealand franchises were allowed to begin recruiting players in late December 2007; this included the allowance of one import player.[5] The team for the 2008 ANZ Championship season, comprising twelve players, was confirmed and announced on 26 January 2008.[6] The team contained four Silver Ferns (Debbie White, Liana Leota, Katrina Grant, Daneka Wipiiti), two experienced former internationals (Megan Dehn and Jenny-May Coffin), two New Zealand A squad members (Erika Burgess, Jessica Tuki) and three New Zealand U21 team members (Te Huinga Reo Selby-Ricket, Wendy Frew, Julianna Naoupou); Megan Hutton was previously an overall MVP in the English Netball Superleague.[7] Donna Wilkins, who previously played for the Southern Sting, signed as an assistant coach rather than as a player. Previous Silver Ferns captain Adine Wilson was unavailable for selection, but announced her intention to return to competitive netball and the Steel for 2009.[8] Tania Dalton was drafted onto the Steel bench during the season, covering injuries.

Inaugural season[edit]

The 2008 season commenced on 5 April, spanning 13 weeks of round-robin competition and three weeks of finals. The Southern Steel began their season on 7 April with a loss to the New South Wales Swifts in Sydney. Their 2008 campaign ended on 6 July with a win in Dunedin over the Queensland Firebirds. With seven wins and six losses, the Steel finished sixth on the competition ladder after the round-robin stages, and did not progress to the finals.

Date Time Home Team Score Away Team Venue
Monday 7 April 9:00 pm NSW Swifts 53-42 (loss) Southern Steel Sydney
Monday 14 April 7.00 pm Central Pulse 50-52 (win) Southern Steel Wellington
Monday 21 April 7.00 pm Canterbury Tactix 42-51 (win) Southern Steel Christchurch
Sunday 27 April 3.30 pm Adelaide Thunderbirds 54-41 (loss) Southern Steel Adelaide
Monday 5 May 7.00 pm Southern Steel 48-50(loss) Northern Mystics Stadium Southland
Saturday 10 May 2.30 pm Southern Steel 48-51(loss) Canterbury Tactix Stadium Southland
Monday 19 May 7.00 pm Waikato/BOP Magic 46-53 (loss) Southern Steel Hamilton
Saturday 24 May BYE BYE BYE BYE BYE
Saturday 31 May 2.30 pm Southern Steel 41-29 (win) Central Pulse Stadium Southland
Saturday 7 June 2.30 pm Southern Steel 47-46 (win) Melbourne Vixens Stadium Southland
Monday 16 June 7.00 pm Southern Steel 58-43 (win) West Coast Fever Edgar Centre
Monday 23 June 7.00 pm Northern Mystics 41-48 (Loss) Southern Steel Auckland
Monday 30 June 7.00 pm Southern Steel 57-53 (Win) Waikato/BOP Magic Stadium Southland
Sunday 6 July 5.30 pm Southern Steel 54-52 (Win) Queensland Firebirds Edgar Centre

2009 season[edit]

An initial squad of eleven players for the 2009 ANZ Championship season was announced in September 2008.[9] Most of the 2008 team was included in this preliminary lineup, although it did not include Megan Dehn, Jessica Tuki and Debbie White. Tuki signed with the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic for the following season,[10] while White transferred to the Northern Mystics.[11] Included in the preliminary lineup for 2009 were Adine Wilson from maternity leave, and Donna Wilkins, who returned to the playing lineup after a year as assistant coach for the Steel. [12] Sheryl Scanlan was also included in the Southern Steel after transferring from the Mystics.[11] Megan Dehn has since announced she has signed with the Queensland Firebirds after talks to replace Jenny May Coffin, Netball New Zealand did not except the import and told the Steel the position should be filled with a younger player.

The Steel announced the 12th position a few weeks later. There was original talks the position would go to either former Australian international Joanne Morgan who signed with the Canterbury Tactix from the Firebirds this season after being dropped, but then did not fit on the Tactix roster or Kristen Hughes, who represented Australia from 2004 until last years World Champs, she also played for the Adelaide Thunderbirds this season but decided to not return in 2009. Both had been ruled out before the franchise confirmed they were after NSW Swifts attacker Leah Shoard, 22. Shoard was a member of the champion winning Swifts in 2008 and decided not to return due to a lack of game time, she plays GS, GA and WA positions and was a member of the Sydney Swifts in 2006 and 2007, AIS Canberra Darters in 2005 during the Commonwealth Bank Trophy (Australian premier league before ANZ Championship) and the Australian Under 21 squad 2005-2007.[13] Since 9 December the Southern Steel announced Leah Shoard part of their roster and was signed.[14]

The 2009 Season would see the Steel make their first semi-finals berth. A good start saw the Steel defeat the Central Pulse at home in a double digit win. The franchise would go on to have wins against its other fellow New Zealand clubs, apart from the Waikato/BOP Magic who it suffered defeats twice to. The Steel were left in a battle with the Queensland Firebirds late in the season to fight for the last semi-final spot. The Steel pulled off major wins at home to the Northern Mystics, Adelaide Thunderbirds and NSW Swifts to confirm a spot in the top four. This berth would only be short lived. A week later the Steel were beaten by five goals in Adelaide against the Thunderbirds, ending their 2009 season.

2010 season[edit]

The Southern Steel started recruiting early on in off season after some huge deflections in the team. First the team though re-signed the majority of the side from the past two seasons, pregnant Silver Ferns shooter Daneka Wipiiti, New Zealand under 21 goal-shooter Julianna Naoupu in attack. Through the mid court Silver Ferns Liana Leota and Wendy Frew both resigned along with Erika Burgess. In defence, 72 test cap Silver Fern Sheryl Scanlan was called back along with NZ Under-21 representative Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit. Coach Robyn Broughton joined up again for her 13th season coaching professionally for the Southern franchise. Players that didn't return were: Captain and former Silver Ferns (1999–2006) Adine Wilson announcing in that August she was pregnant with her second child to husband and former All Blacks player Jeff Wilson ruling her out for 2010.

Star shooter Donna Wilkins (Silver Ferns 1996–2003), who had been playing in Invercargill under coach Robyn Broughton since 1997, announcing her retirement. Katrina Grant an up-and-coming Silver Ferns defender with two years of international experience, signed with the Central Pulse for 2010. Australian import for 2009 Leah Shoard linked with the West Coast Fever.

The Steel though picked up some international talent for both attack and defensive ends. Leana de Bruin (Silver Ferns 2002–2008) signed with Steel for 2010. She and experienced and seasoned player brought height defensively to team up with Sheryl Scanlan – another Silver Fern. In Attack, Megan Dehn who played for Steel the past two years, is in the best form of her life, playing for the World 7 recently in two wins against New Zealand's Silver Ferns at Goal Attack shooting in the high 80 percents. She teamed up with Wipiiti in the shooting circle as the new shooting paring for coach Broughton after Donna Wilkins retired at the end of 2009. The Steel later announced new signings in former Southern Sting defender Emma Moynihan (23), Hayley Saunders (20) and experienced shooter and former Silver Ferns squad member Jade Topia, who was transferring from the Mystics.

The Steel were in a major re-structure phase for the 2010 season, with several heavy deflections, coach Broughton had to build a new team. The shooting combination of Wipiiti and Megan Dehn took time, but started to come together after round 3 and saw the Steel on the rise.

Wins early against the West Coast Fever, Canterbury Tactix and Central Pulse suggested Steel could back up its semi final berth from last season again. Steel took on some tougher opponents during the middle of the competition. Losses to the Waikato/BOP Magic, Adelaide Thunderbirds and Queensland Firebirds at home saw them slip in form. The Firebirds became the first Australian team to win at Stadium Southland in the history of the ANZ competition. Coach Broughton rallied her troops. The bye came at a handy time for the team, and re-grouped before gaining momentum. Crucial wins against the Waikato/BOP Magic, Melbourne Vixens and Canterbury Tactix all at home with a rallied Invercargill crowd, saw the Steel back in the finals frame. And backed it up with a season decider against the Northern Mystics in Auckland, ending the Mystics season and confirming the Steel a spot in the play offs 50-42 the final score. Again like in 2009, the Steel couldn't make it past the semi final stage, going down to the Waikato/BOP Magic in a reverse from their last meeting.

2011 season[edit]

See Southern Steel's 2011 season

A freak snow storm, and the collapsed roof of Stadium Southland, resulted in the Steel moving to a temporary facility at the Invercargill ILT Velodrome.

Recruitment mode started early for the Invercargill-based Southern Steel franchise. The team started by confirming coach Robyn Broughton would return for another season. The franchise then moved onto re-signing its squad. The Steel confirmed that current or former internationals shooter Daneka Wipiiti, mid courters Liana Leota, Wendy Frew and defenders Sheryl Scanlan, Erika Burgess and Leana de Bruin would be back for 2011, along with up and comers Hayley Saunders and Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit. The franchise then moved into signing four more names to its team. Silver Ferns star Paula Griffin and Australian international Natasha Chokljat were poached from the Central Pulse and Melbourne Vixens respectively and would be the franchises two marquee signings. Young gun shooters Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Sophia Fenwick were also included after impressing at National Provincial level. Four players would be missing from the 2010 squad. Promising shooters Julianna Naoupu and Jade Topia left the franchise, Naoupu heading to the Magic and Topia to the Pulse in a bid for more court time. Midcourter Emma Moynihan missed her spot in the team for 2011, while captain Megan Dehn was surplus to requirements at the franchise after three seasons. Failing to gain citizenship after the team signed fellow Australian Natasha Chokljat, Dehn said goodbye to the Invercargill-based team before linking with the Northern Mystics in what is expected to be her last ANZ Championship season. In late December, it was confirmed midcourters Frew and Leota would take over the reins as co-captains.

A freak snow storm in September, in which the roof fell in at the Steel's main stadium, means the team will play[when?] their four planned matches in Invercargill at the ILT Velodrome, attached to Stadium Southland. A temporary facility will be set up for 2011 season. With reduced capacity, 4300 down to 2800, fans were required to line-up to book season tickets for the new ANZ Championship season. The Steel's home is expected to be re-built and ready for the 2012 season. Locals were asked what changes could be made, and one was increased capacity from around 4400 up to 5000. The stadium boasted a large capacity when it was first built in 2000, but increased popularity for the Steel and fellow basketball franchise the Southland Sharks now means a larger seating number would be ideal for the future. The Steel had an unfortunate start to the new ANZ Championship season. Injuries to key players such as Daneka Wipiiti, Natasha Chokljat and Sheryl Scanlan meant the Steel were unable to hit their straps from the start. The Invercargill franchise lost its opening two games to the Northern Mystics and Waikato/BOP Magic, but defeated the Central Pulse in Wellington in round three 45-43. The side then suffered another loss, this time to the Queensland Firebirds in Brisbane before wins at home against the Central Pulse once again and the Adelaide Thunderbirds. Star import Natasha Chokljat returned for these two home matches, adding speed to the team's midcourt. The Steel later lost to the Canterbury Tactix in Christchurch, before another defeat to the Melbourne Vixens 42-33. The Steel matched up against the Canterbury Tactix a week later, this time winning 49-40. Paula Griffin was in great form, shooting 34/39 from goal shoot. Coach Robyn Broughton was forced to move Silver Fern Daneka Wipiiti to goal attack, in order to fix the team's attacking problems. The Steel lost its final three matches at home, ending their worst ANZ Championship season. Going down the Waikato/BOP Magic once again 38-33, before defeats at the hands of the Swifts and Mystics.

A week later, Steel CEO Julie Paterson confirmed the franchise would advertise the head coaching position, held by Robyn Broughton for the previous 14 seasons. She decided against re-applying, and was replaced on 20 May by New Zealand under-21 coach Janine Southby and former Australian international, former Southern Sting shooter and Southland coach Natalie Avellino, the pair taking over as co-coaches. The transfer period now[when?] begins and the franchise will be looking to whom they will re-sign in 2012, and whom they will recruit from rival franchises.

2012 season[edit]

The return of Southland stalwart Donna Wilkins to the Steel came as a surprise. Wilkins shot 33/35 in her return match, leading Steel to victory against the Magic.

After the departure of longtime coach Robyn Broughton, the Steel confirmed her replacements in Natalie Avellino and Janine Southby. The franchise started their recruitment for 2012, with Silver Fern shooter Jodi Brown unveiled as the first signing. Days later the Steel confirmed local talents Wendy Frew and Hayley Saunders would also be returning.

ANZ Championship MVP Leana de Bruin confirmed she wouldn't return to Invercargill in 2012 - with the 32 year-old linking with the Waikato/BOP Magic for next season - opting to be closer to her family. The franchise later lost young guns Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit and Paula Griffin to the Central Pulse. Silver Fern midcourter Liana Leota was the fourth player to signal her departure, with the co-captain confirming she is heading to the UK, with rugby playing husband Johnny Leota. Australian import Natasha Chokljat and Silver Ferns shooter Daneka Wipiiti also signalled their departure from the Steel after the 2011 campaign.

The franchise replaced its list of outgoing players with a mix of local talent and experience. Silver Fern Jodi Brown was unveiled as the new captain, and joined Sheryl Scanlan and Donna Wilkins as the veterans in the squad. The Steel re-signed national under 21 shooter Te Paea Selby-Rickit and added locals Louise Thayer and Ashleigh Smith to the squad. New South Wales Swifts midcourter Courtney Tairi joined the franchise, along with fellow Australian Demelza McCloud, a former Otago Rebels defender.

In February it was also announced that Phillipa Finch would replace Wendy Frew who fell pregnant with her first child.

The Steel kicked off its 2012 campaign against the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic at home in Invercargill. The Steel welcomed the return of Donna Wilkins, twelve weeks back from giving birth to her third child Mia Grace. She led the Steel to 49-47 victory in a standout performance.

But the Steel struggled from then forward, losing its second match to the new look Central Pulse in Napier 47-42. The Steel suffered a further ten defeats, including record losses to the Mystics 60-49 in Auckland, and at home against the Melbourne Vixens in the final week of round robin play 56-38.

Competitive record[edit]

  • 2008: 6th
  • 2009: 4th
  • 2010: 4th
  • 2011: 7th
  • 2012: 9th

References[edit]

  1. ^ NZPA (2007-05-09). "Nod to all five Tasman Trophy bids". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 2008-04-03. 
  2. ^ "Broughton keeps her options open". Newstalk ZB. 2007-08-16. Retrieved 2008-10-15. 
  3. ^ Andrews, Jerrie (2007-12-06). "Wilkins is Steel assistant coach". The Southland Times. Retrieved 2008-10-15. 
  4. ^ Andrews, Jerrie (2007-11-07). "Southern netball franchise receives official name". The Southland Times. Retrieved 2008-10-15. 
  5. ^ Andrews, Jerrie (2007-12-22). "Southern Steel cuts recruiting deadlock". The Southland Times. Retrieved 2008-10-15. 
  6. ^ "Southern Steel confirms squad". NZCity and Newstalk ZB. 2008-01-26. Retrieved 2008-10-15. 
  7. ^ "Southern Steel: meet your team". The Southland Times. 2008-04-29. Archived from the original on 2012-09-11. Retrieved 2008-10-15. 
  8. ^ Savory, Logan (2007-11-21). "Southern netball dealt a double blow". The Southland Times. Retrieved 2008-10-15. 
  9. ^ Andrews, Jerrie (2008-09-20). "Steel lineup has really good potential, Broughton says". The Southland Times. Retrieved 2008-10-15. 
  10. ^ Seconi, Adrian (2008-10-06). "Tuki excited about opportunity to play for Magic". Otago Daily Times. Retrieved 2008-10-15. 
  11. ^ a b "Mystics play down loss of key defender". Newstalk ZB. 2008-09-22. Retrieved 2008-10-15. 
  12. ^ Seconi, Adrian (2008-09-20). "Special duo of Wilson, Wilkins to boost Steel". Otago Daily Times. Retrieved 2008-10-15. 
  13. ^ Andrews, Jerrie (2008-10-15). "Dehn looking at return to netball". The Southland Times. Retrieved 2008-10-15. 
  14. ^ "ANZ Championship Squad Announcement Update". 2008-10-01. Retrieved 2008-10-15. 

External links[edit]