Batten down the hatches, the Lightning is ready to strike! That’s the ominous warning from the two-time defending premiers for their opposition ahead of this weekend’s pre-season tournament in Brisbane.
Head Coach Noeline Taurua said the Lightning was determined to make an early statement in 2019 and avoid a repeat of last year’s sluggish 1-3 start to their Suncorp Super Netball campaign.
“In previous pre-seasons the talk has always been ‘oh well we’re just going out there to have a feel’ but this time we’re actually going out to be competitive and put a stake in the ground,” she said.
“We want to start better than we have over the last couple of years. The intention is to be in a better position by the time we hit the bye round (in July) so we’re not having to play catch-up post worlds (championships) and for that to happen we need to start better.”
All eyes are sure to be on the Lightning when they face the Adelaide Thunderbirds in tomorrow afternoon’s opening match of the inaugural #TeamGirls Cup, especially new recruits Peace Proscovia (goal shooter) and Phumza Maweni (goal keeper).
The rookie duo face a daunting task replacing two of the world’s best in Australian captain Caitlin Bassett (Giants) and England skipper Geva Mentor (Magpies), who both parted ways with the Lightning after last year’s premiership success.
“They intuitively play the game differently and they’ve got amazing strengths so I can’t wait to see what that looks like against opposition,” Taurua said.
“Although we’ve lost some big guns I’m really happy with the recruitment we’ve done in the off season and what the new recruits bring. The combinations are going to be different but that’s good for us.”
The Lightning’s bid for a third consecutive Suncorp Super Netball title begins on April 27 against the Magpies in Melbourne. The defending champions will have to wait until May 25 for their first home match of the season, with the $9million expansion of USC Stadium set to be completed in time for their Round 5 clash with the Giants.
Mayor Mark Jamieson urged the Sunshine Coast to ramp up support for the region’s first national league sporting team in 2019.
“The Lightning has done the Sunshine Coast so proud during its first two years and the team thoroughly deserves more strong support from our sports loving community,” Mayor Jamieson said.
“The club has more than 2,300 members and the extensions to USC Stadium will increase seating capacity to over 3,000 and enable more netball fans to see the Lightning live in action.
“I wish the team all of the best for this weekend’s pre-season tournament, especially new recruits Peace Proscovia and Phumza Muweni who come from Uganda and South Africa respectively and add to the wonderful mix of international players in our Lightning side.”
The Lightning will meet the Queensland Firebirds (2pm) and Melbourne Vixens (7pm) in their other pool matches on Saturday, with finals to be played on Sunday.