Stacey Peeters: New Zealand netball player's Christmas in Wales

Stacey Peeters
Stacey Peeters spent four seasons with New Zealand side Southern Steel

Few people would swap summer for winter given the choice, but New Zealander Stacey Peeters has done just that.

Peeters has moved to Wales to join Superleague netball team Celtic Dragons ahead of the new season, which starts in the New Year.

But before then Peeters is enjoying the build up to another season - the festive season.

"In my spare time I spend looking around Cardiff and I'm loving the Christmas atmosphere," Peeters told BBC Radio Wales Sport.

"We don't have this in New Zealand because obviously it's 25 degrees.

"I walked down Cardiff's main street and the lights are out and then there's the markets and the cakes that they've got out, oh my gosh.

"I hope Trish isn't listening!"

Trish Wilcox
Celtic Dragons and Wales coach Trish Wilcox previously worked for Netball New Zealand and Auckland Netball.

Trish is Trish Wilcox, coach of Wales and Celtic Dragons who was influential in Peeters' decision to sign for the Welsh team.

Peeters, a mid-court player, was a regular for Dunedin-based Southern Steel in last season's ANZ Championship, a semi-professional competition which features teams from Australia and New Zealand.

After finishing her degree she started work with the Otago Academy of Sport, where she co-ordinated the elite New Zealand Motorsport Academy.

But the 24-year-old wanted to travel and continue with her netball career and was keen to join a team in the UK Superleague.

"I've been pretty busy for four years and I wanted to travel but I still wanted to do netball and I thought the Superleague would be a cool challenge," added Peeters, who was part of the New Zealand Under-21 team who were Junior World champions in 2013.

"There was a lot of research because I didn't know too much about the competition.

"But a lot of people back home knew Trish because she's done a lot of work in Auckland with the Northern Zone and they said 'have you spoken with her?'

"They said 'you'll get on like a house on fire' and I spoke to her over a Skype session one day.

"One thing she mentioned was the team's values and how that's a big deal and having a great team culture and that's what I'm all about.

"A happy team off court is a happy team on court and you'll perform."

Ian Hunt and Stacey Peeters
Stacey Peeters with Radio Wales Sport presenter Ian Hunt

Peeters is confident the Welsh side are in for a positive year in a new-look Superleague.

The Cardiff-based side, captained by Suzy Drane, finished seventh out of eight in last season's competition, which will feature 10 teams in 2017.

Dragons, who begin their campaign against Team Bath in February, have also signed Trinidad & Tobago's Kalifa McCollin as their second overseas player.

They have promoted Wales Under 21 players defenders Fern Davies and Leila Thomas, and goal shooter Lydia Hitchings to their squad, while former England age-group international Lois Rideout also as a defender.

Peeters says the freshness of the squad could cause a few surprises during the coming season.

"We have such a new team this year and so much youth and willingness to learn that we could really push the other teams," she added.

"They're not going to know what to expect and I think that's a really positive thing for us.

"I don't really know what to expect to I'm going to go out there all guns blazing."

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