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Captain Mentor takes game to new level

GEVA MENTOR NEVER KNEW HOW FINE A CAPTAIN SHE COULD BE.

In fact, she never gave it any consideration.

So when Sunshine Coast Lightning coach Noeline Taurua appointed the England international skipper for the inaugural Suncorp Super Netball season, Mentor was as surprised as anyone.

“When it got down to the nitty gritty, I assumed it would be C-Bass (Caitlin Bassett) or Laura (Langman),” Mentor said.

“I’ve always been one of the experienced players but never the one with the title.

“It’s only been this year that I’ve really thought about it and it means the world to me.”

But the success so far of 2017 – the second-placed Lightning face GIANTS Netball in Round 14 ahead of next week’s finals – has proved Taurua knew what she was doing.

Yet it surprised many when Mentor was handed the job.

Her only previous captaincy experience was leading England during the 2015 Netball World Cup, a role that spanned barely two months.

At both her previous two clubs – Adelaide Thunderbirds and Melbourne Vixens – the captaincy was ably filled by Natalie von Bertouch, Sharelle McMahon and Bianca Chatfield.

And there was a school of thought that Mentor was past her best as a defender.

Those doubters have been proved wrong by the 32-year-old’s stunning performances this season, during which she has claimed the scalps of every shooter she faced.

Just like former opponent Laura Geitz did at club and international level, Mentor has the ability to produce something special – a deflection, rebound or intercept – at critical moments to spark action from those around her.

“Going by the statistics, it does look like I’ve improved,” she said.

“But it’s more important to me to have gained the respect and trust of teammates.”

Mentor was never promised the captaincy when she signed with the Lightning but her leadership and communication skills have been a major factor in the side’s march to the finals.

With the support of Taurua, Langman and Bassett, the Lightning’s leadership team has built a strong, respectful and happy culture.

The World Cup experience taught her that captaincy is as much about communication as performance.

“You need to be in tune with the coach,” Mentor said.

“You’ve got to have those honest and frank conversations about everything, particularly when it comes to selecting the team and tactics.

“You’re the gauge.

“If there’s got to be a conversation with the nutritionist or the strength and conditioning coach, then you’re the one giving feedback.

“You’ve got to have those honest and open communications, and I’ve never felt more valued.”

With second place up for grabs, Mentor’s Lightning faces the challenge this week of finding a defensive answer to the Giants’ rotating attack end.

Sunshine Coast Lightning travel to Sydney for their all-important clash with GIANTS Netball at Qudos Bank Arena, Saturday May 27. Get your tickets or watchthe game live on 9Gem or the Netball Live mobile app.