Netball: Sharp-shooter Dehn signs with Southern Steel

By Dana Johannsen

Firebirds coach Vicki Wilson has no hard feelings towards Megan Dehn after the former Australian shooter, who walked out on the Queensland side in the pre-season, this week joined the Southern Steel.

The Steel have special dispensation to sign Dehn as a replacement for shooter Daneka Wipiiti, who will withdraw from the team as she is expecting her first child.

Dehn had originally signed to play with the Firebirds for the 2009 season but pulled out of the squad earlier this year citing work commitments.

It was a big blow for the Firebirds, with Dehn expected to form a potentially lethal combination with superstar import Romelda Aiken in the shooting circle.

While Wilson, who is in Christchurch for today's clash against the Canterbury Tactix, was surprised to see Dehn link up with the Steel for the rest of the season, she said she was not bitter about the move.

"Relocating to Brisbane just wasn't going to work out for her and if this suits her better, then good luck to her."

Although the Tactix are in seventh place in the standings with just three wins this year, Wilson considers the Canterbury side to be very dangerous because they have come close to knocking over several top sides this season.

"I think they've been a little bit unlucky with some of the results but they've just proven how tough they can be and how competitive they are, so we're ready for the ambush without a doubt," she said.

The Firebirds are looking to firm up their place in the top four with a good win today. But they will also have to contend with the unfamiliar style of umpiring, which has proved to be the major hurdle for visiting teams to overcome in transtasman matches.

"We've been watching very carefully what [the New Zealand umpires] call," Wilson said. "We know what challenges are allowed, what isn't allowed, so I think it's about time the smart netballers put up their hand and play according to what they're allowed to do."

However Wilson was frustrated to discover upon her arrival in Christchurch yesterday there had been a late change to the umpires, with Bronwyn Meek replacing Mandy Nottingham.

After knocking over competition leaders the Melbourne Vixens last week, the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic have a different sort of challenge ahead of them tomorrow when they take on the bottom-placed Central Pulse in Wellington. With goal differential set to play a big part in determining the make-up of the top four, Noeline Taurua said it was crucial her side not only win, but win well.

The Adelaide Thunderbirds will be searching for another big win at home tomorrow when they take on the West Coast Fever. While Thunderbirds trounced Fever by 20 goals two weeks ago, Fever will have collected confidence from their decisive win over Southern Steel on Monday night.

The Steel must beat the Northern Mystics this Monday to remain in finals contention. After suffering their first loss of the season in round 10, the Vixens will be looking to recover for their Monday night match with defending champions NSW Swifts.

ROUND 11

Today: 2pm Canterbury Tactix v Queensland Firebirds, Christchurch.
Tomorrow: 4.30pm Adelaide Thunderbirds v West Coast Fever, Adelaide; 6.30pm Central Pulse v Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic, Wellington.
Monday: 7pm Southern Steel v Northern Mystics, Invercargill; 9pm NSW Swifts v Melbourne Vixens, Sydney.

- NZ Herald

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