Taneisha Fifita is going from strength to strength.
The Southern Steel goal keep is in her second season as a fully contracted player for the ANZ Premiership team, and sits in the top five of the competition for intercepts (22), rebounds (16) and deflections (49) this season. Last year she cracked only the top 10 for deflections, with 37 for the season.
Having moved from Oamaru to Invercargill with her family, the former Waitaki Girls’ High School pupil said she was feeling more settled with the Steel this season.
“There’s still heaps to learn but definitely makes it easier now that I’ve been here for two years and before [being] a training partner,” the 20-year-old said.
“I think I’m just at that stage where I know my strengths and how I can use those .. and my team-mates around me help with that.”
That included the defensive unit in front of her of veteran defender Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit and new Steel wing defence Renee Savai’inaea.
Fifita and Savai’inaea previously played together at national under-21 level, so Fifita felt comfortable with her style since her shift from the Central Pulse, and Selby-Rickit provided the experience for them.
“I know that if I’m doing my job she won’t yell at me,” she joked.
It has been a season in which Fifita has been able to challenge herself, no more so than when she came up against 1.96m-tall Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic shooter Caitlin Bassett.
At 1.85m, Fifita is 11cm shorter than the former Australia Diamonds captain who had a strong hold, but could also move when needed.
“[It’s] the whole package but it’s been a really good experience. I enjoy that kind of stuff – challenging myself.”
The Southern Steel had a raft of changes this year, signing five new players. Just three players have been with the franchise longer than Fifita, but it has not stopped the team from succeeding – at present, the Steel is third on the ladder behind the Northern Mystics and Canterbury Tactix.
However, the Steel toppled the Mystics 61-58 in Invercargill on Sunday, winning the Georgie Salter Memorial Trophy.
Salter, a North Otago Netball life member, played a pivotal role in Fifita’s career, coaching her through the ranks and the game was significant for her.
“Especially because I’ve known Georgie on a personal level, she means a lot to me. It’s very special.”
The Steel has regular-season games against the Pulse and Northern Stars left to cement its spot in the final three. Fifita is determined to play her role to help get her team there.
“For me, personally, it’s just trying to do my best and giving everything a go because obviously we do want to be in that top three.”