The Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel has launched its 2022 recruitment drive by securing English playmaker George Fisher.
The international shooting sensation has played a pivotal role in Steel’s success this season, her trademark accuracy and dynamic combinations formed proving influential.
Fisher was “super excited” at the prospect of returning to Steel for the 2022 ANZ Premiership campaign. Turns out she’s rather fond of her southern home.
“When I came over I was so nervous that I was going to miss home and kept telling myself ‘it’s only six months’. Now I don’t want to leave. I love everything about it,” she said.
“When they said to me about coming back, it was a definite yes. It wasn’t a hard decision at all.
“I think Shannon (Saunders) summed it up perfectly the other day when she said she had never been part of a team culture like this. Literally everyone genuinely likes each other and has each other’s backs. We don’t just train together, we hang out. It’s awesome.”
Steel chief executive Lana Winders was delighted to secure Fisher’s signature.
“It was great to have that commitment from George early in the contracting process. It’s just created a real anchor for the conversations I’m having with other players as part of our recruitment,” she said.
“We’re thoroughly enjoying having George in our environment. She’s developed an amazing understanding within our attacking ranks and I think that has strengthened her game and added even more to her vast range of skills as the season has progressed.”
Despite the resulting 54-49 loss, earning a place in Sunday’s Elimination Final against The Good Oil Tactix at ILT Stadium Southland reflected the Steel’s evolution as a team.
“It has been a great pleasure for all of us behind the scenes who worked to put the 2021 roster together just to see some of those risks that we took back then coming to fruition so beautifully,” Winders said.
“While last year we had some quite significant gaps to fill, this year our strategy is very much one of consolidation and retention. The amazing potential of these players is really exciting – their development as a team in just one year has been exceptional and we just can’t wait to see what’s possible in two.”
Fisher ventured to New Zealand determined to evolve as a player.
“I think I’ve had a very interesting season. I’ve had some games which I’m super, super happy with and some not so much,” she said.
“The main reason for me coming here personally was to learn and that is something I’ve done absolutely loads of. From watching my first game to watching now, it’s literally completely different. What I’m most happy about is genuinely how much my game has changed and how I have grown.
“I’m seeing things, the way I move and hold – it’s all so different and that’s what I wanted. I’m really happy with the way it’s gone so far.
“Something I’ve learned this season actually is that being in the hurt box is a fun place to be. Before I kind of shied away from it but it’s really good.”
Steel had exceeded the expectations of netball pundits and Fisher was confident it was the start of something special.
“We’ve surprised everyone as is … everyone just wrote us off so hard so it’s nice that we can just be ‘nah, we’re a real good side’.”