Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

Netball: Steel win race for Jamaican star Fowler-Reid

Jamaican super shooter Jhaniele Fowler-Reid has committed to the Southern Steel for a fifth season. Photo/Christine Cornege
Jamaican super shooter Jhaniele Fowler-Reid has committed to the Southern Steel for a fifth season. Photo/Christine Cornege

Jamaican international Jhaniele Fowler-Reid has become the first import to pledge her allegiance to the New Zealand league, re-signing with the Southern Steel for the 2017 season.

The 1.98m super shooter was a key target for clubs across the Tasman in the rival Australian competition, but opted for a fifth season with the southern franchise.

Fowler-Reid is the Steel's first signing for the new ANZ elite league, which gets under way in April next year, and the first player announcement of the post-transtasman league era.

Player contracting for the new Australian competition has been put on hold while administrators across the Tasman grapple with the finer details of the players collective.

Fowler-Reid said she is excited to embark on a new competition with the Steel.
"Honestly I am just so keen to embrace it. I know it's going to be just as exciting and just as intense," she said.

"Family is so important to me and I feel like family here. Everyone looks out for me and wherever I go I feel like I'm home. This is my second home and happy players players make good players.

"I was only ever signing for the first year (2013) but being here has exceeded my expectations."

The most prolific shooter in ANZ Championship history, Fowler-Reid set a new league record of 779 goals during the recent season with an accuracy rate over 90 percent and snaffled 88 offensive rebounds.

The Steel recorded its most successful campaign in the competition's nine-year history, and Fowler-Reid was keen to see the team stick together and continue the momentum.

"It was more than a step up, I think we have taken a few steps up. I think we will be a force to be reckoned with this coming season. There is much more to come because we do have a lot of room to improve. Imagine if we improve on what we're already doing - we're going to be dominating," she said.

Steel chief executive Lana Winders said she was thrilled to re-sign Fowler-Reid.

"She's one of our first full signings for the new elite league and provides an incredible platform from which to build the rest of the player roster," Winders said.

"I'm very excited for our savvy Steel fans who know just how crucial Jae's contribution on the court is. I rate her as the best GS on the planet right now and we are thrilled she wants to come back to Invercargill again next year and take the court for the Steel in our new elite domestic competition."

Together with husband Andre and their six-year-old daughter Drehannah, Fowler-Reid departs for Jamaica tomorrow. She will have just two weeks rest before embarking on an international campaign with the Sunshine Girls, including a return trip to New Zealand to take on the Silver Ferns.

The ANZ Championship era came to a thrilling end yesterday, with the Queensland Firebirds claiming their second consecutive title and third in six years with a tense double overtime victory over the NSW Swifts.

A flurry of player and coaching announcements is expected over the next few weeks from the New Zealand franchises, as the race for the top international talent heats up.

- NZ Herald

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