Steel success could see first ANZ final in NZ

By Rahia Timutimu
  • South Island

The Southern Steel leads the ANZ Championship competition ladder and is the only undefeated team. If they continue their winning ways, they could host the major final in NZ, a first in the competition. Coach Noeline Taurua is the only NZ coach to have won this major title, which was with the Waikato/BOP Magic in 2012. 

The Southern Steel was all smiles at training this week. They're the only undefeated team in this year's ANZ Championship.

Taurua says, “Having a great team culture to a performance and winning culture has helped, everyone is doing their role.”

Since the competition's inception in 2008, the Steel's best result has been fourth overall in 2009 and 2010. This year, they lead the competition by three points. 13 points ahead of the second place team in the NZ conference.

Steel defender Te Huinga Selby-Rickit says, “Our team has never been this close before.  All of these experiences are new to us, but not to Noeline.  She's been here before, so she knows what it's like. We trust and follow her because she knows what she's doing, she's won this competition.”

New coach Noeline Taurua could be the secret of their success. Not only is she the most successful coach this year, she is also the only coach from NZ to have won an ANZ title with the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic in 2012.

Steel shooter Te Paea Selby Rickit says, “She's a different coach. She doesn't really follow the book. She has her own strategies that get you thinking.”

The team is 100% behind Noeline. They have some of the best statistics in the game.  Jhaniele Fowler-Reid is the competition's top shooter.

Taurua says, “It’s definitely a team effort, when you have a strong environment, you can only develop and grow.”

They could also be the first NZ team to host a grand final if they continue to win their matches until the end of July.

“I thought when I first came here, and I laid it down, we can win, playing some of the top teams, it’s become a reality,” says Taurua.

However, it's one step at a time for the side who take on the Swifts in their final round match this Saturday.

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