The addition of two exciting young players from the southern region has completed the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel squad.
Shooter Jamie Hume, of Clyde, and defender Abby Erwood, of South Otago, join a Steel roster stacked with talent to contest the 2016 ANZ Championship.
Steel coach Janine Southby said the dedication shown by the duo whilst in the Steel Development Squad earned promotion into the elite ranks.
"The passion and commitment they have is huge," she said.
"While we might not have the numbers of other areas, we definitely have got the talent here and we need to give these players the opportunity. It makes sense to invest in these girls for our future.
"They have both had a wee taste of our environment and now the reality will be the day-to-day demands of it."
Hume, 19, admits to being “super excited” when offered a contract.
“It’s been a crazy week,” she said. “I think it’s been harder on dad to keep it a secret though - my parents are really proud and excited for me.”
Erwood, at home last week enjoying a break from commerce studies at Otago University, initially missed Southby’s call as she was out on the farm.
“When I did speak with her, I was so stoked words can't really describe it. It hasn't really sunk in yet,” she said.
“Every rep team you make, they always tell you it will be another level but this will definitely be the biggest step up so far. I do feel ready for it though and can’t wait to learn as much as I can.”
The Steel environment isn’t foreign to Erwood and Hume. They attended a pre-season tournament with the Steel in February and Erwood, 18, replaced injured defender Storm Purvis for the Magic game in the latter stages of this year’s championship.
“That was a really good experience for me in terms of knowing what to expect,” she said.
Selection of the pair reinforces the pathway available for players to reach the sport’s top echelon in the south - something Hume hopes will set an example for others to aspire to.
“To be able to come from a rural school like Dunstan High School and be signed by a franchise team is just insane - I never would have thought it would happen but it just shows it is possible,” she said.
Erwood, whose grandmother Shirley Patrick is a former Silver Fern, echoed her thoughts: “Hopefully other players will see anyone can make it if you just put the time and dedication in.”
As their debut ANZ Championship season looms, the pair also have a national focus aiming for selection in the New Zealand U21 team to contest the World Youth Cup in Botswana next year.
And while they have spent the season playing in opposing club teams in Dunedin, Hume and Erwood will join forces as team-mates for Otago to contest the Lion Foundation Championships in Wellington in October.
The 2016 Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel squad is:
Te Huinga Selby-Rickit
Te Paea Selby-Rickit