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New team no tall order for Taurua

Via Damien Stannard (@dstanno) / Suncorp Super Netball

THERE WAS NOT EVEN A DESK UNDER WHICH TO TUCK HER FEET – LET ALONE PLAYERS – TO GREET NOELINE TAURUA WHEN SHE STARTED BUILDING SUNCORP SUPER NETBALL CLUB SUNSHINE COAST LIGHTNING.

Yet in the space of six months, one of netball’s finest coaches has shaped a team of which the region and the sport should be proud.

“Looking back, when it all started, I had no balls and no bibs so we’ve certainly come a long way in a short space of time,” Taurua recalled of her first days in the job.

That seems a faint memory now for Taurua who on Sunday will preside over the Lightning’s historic first home game, against the Melbourne Vixens at the University of the Sunshine Coast.

The club’s birth has delivered a band of heroes to a thriving region which has until now been deprived of a national league sporting team to call its own.

And this is a formidable outfit.

Signing arguably the world’s best shooter, Caitlin Bassett, the game’s premier centre, Laura Langman, and one of its top defenders, captain Geva Mentor, was a no-brainer. A sturdy structure needs pillars.

With the help of former Firebirds assistant, elite development coach and selector Kylee Byrne, Taurua then went to the tree to harvest some of the country’s brightest untapped talent.

Goal attack Stephanie Wood had already represented Australia, but midcourter Madeline McAuliffe and goaler Cara Koenen were representative of a fully-equipped next tier just dying to make an impact.

Former Firebird Laura Scherian was also a key recruit.

She had tasted elite netball in 2010, and been on the cusp of a recall several times before the Lightning gave her a second chance.

“She’s a mature player and a mature person and that shows on court,” Taurua said of the midcourter.

“We needed some one (in that role) to do the simple things well and work hard, and that’s her character.”

The Lightning host the cohesive Vixens who have not concealed their ambition to win Super Netball in its inaugural season.

Goal attack Tegan Philip was a model patient last year when she worked diligently on her rehabilitation from knee surgery.

And it showed, with the capped Diamond starring against the Magpies and likely to play an influential role against the Sunshine Coast.

“I’d like to think I’m a good rehabber,” she joked.

“As boring and as taxing as it is, you know you’ve got to listen to the physios and strength and condition staff and get it done.”

The Lightning host the Vixens on Sunday 26 February at 12.00pm local time at the University of the Sunshine Coast Sports Stadium (USC). Purchase tickets here or tune in to Telstra TV and the Netball Live App to watch the game live.

Photography: Getty Images

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