Despite some early reservations, Abby Erwood has found that city living suits her just fine as she goes about expanding her credentials with Central Manawa in the National Netball League (NNL).
Used sparingly last year after five seasons and 52 games for the Southern Steel, Erwood took a leap of faith when making the move from the family farm in Waitahuna, situated between Dunedin and Invercargill, to the big smoke of Wellington.
Primarily a goal defence, it hasn’t taken long for the 1.81m Erwood, 24, to settle into the groove of life and netball in a new setting.
Playing the full game, Erwood turned in a player of the match performance against South in Manawa’s last outing while also getting one-up on her twin sister Sophie, who was in the opposition, their father watching from the stands and taking an unbiased stance by sitting in line with the middle of the court.
Also, a training partner and back-up player on game-day for senior team Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse, Erwood has a busy schedule but is a happy contributor on all fronts.
``I came up here for a change of scenery and I’d heard this is the best place to get some really good defensive coaching, so I just wanted to come up here, add some more tools to my tool belt and execute a few more different things,’’ she said.
``In the first few weeks, I’ve definitely learned heaps defensive-wise and now it’s just a matter of implementing it in the games and for a full 60 minutes.
``Coming from the farm and a small town, moving to the big city, I thought I wasn’t going to enjoy it, but, other than the expensive rents, Wellington’s actually a really nice place to live.
``I absolutely love the Manawa team and all the girls. They’re a really good bunch to get along with and they’ve really welcomed me with open arms.’’
Erwood is sharing a flat in the seaside suburb of Seatoun with Pulse players Aliyah Dunn and Parris Mason.
With two wins and a loss so far in their campaign, Manawa have a big challenge looming when they come up against the Northern Comets, in a televised match, in Auckland on Sunday. Coached by former Silver Ferns midcourt whizz Temepara Bailey, the Comets have posted some hefty scorelines on their way to four straight wins.
``The Comets are definitely the team that are on top at the moment,’’ Erwood said. ``They haven’t had a loss, so for us, it’s about really showing up for that game and making sure this week that we’ve practised those finer little details while being able to execute the one percenters. That’s probably what it will come down to.
``The standard at this (NNL) level has continued to rise and the competition itself is a lot closer. It’s a battle every game, so you never know who’s going to win or lose.``You can’t pre-determine anything and you don’t know which ANZ Premiership players will be coming down to play each week. So, it’s very unpredictable and you’ve just got to show up each game and put your best foot forward.’’