Oamaru netballer Taneisha Fifita’s meteoric rise in her chosen sport has continued after earning selection as a training partner for the Southern Steel national premiership side.
She was one of three players named as training partners by Steel head coach Regina Bloxham at the end of December, the others being Dunedin-based twins Kate and Georgia Heffernan (18).
The 16-year-old Waitaki Girls’ High School pupil represented Netball South in the second-tier Beko League in 2017, while she was part of the North Otago under-19 side that contested the New Zealand age-group championships in Wellington in July.
The 185cm defender, who played for Waitaki Girls’ Lightning Strike at club level last year, was also an integral part of North Otago’s Hanan Shield tournament win in Ashburton in August.
Bloxham believed all three players deserved their chance to impress at national premiership level.
“They are all very talented and I’m really excited to have them as part of our programme,” she said.
“They’ve come through our zone pathways so are home-grown players who have worked their way up through the ranks. That does foster belief amongst our emerging players and reinforces there is a tangible pathway to reaching our elite teams.”
With Steel mainstays Shannon Francois and Te Paea Selby-Rickit likely to be absent during parts of the pre-season due to Silver Fern commitments leading up to the Commonwealth Games in April, the training partners had an important role to play.
“They will be totally immersed in the whole programme to learn the ropes and see what it’s all about. They’ll definitely get to sweat, hurt, play, laugh and cry with the rest of the team.
“It really is a fantastic opportunity. Yes it’s tough and they have to work exceptionally hard but rewards do come.
“Three of our Beko players from last season – Dani Gray, Olivia Bates and Aliyah Dunn – were seconded into the Steel squad at various stages and all earned full ANZ Premiership contracts for 2018 as a result.”