Suncorp Team Girls Cup provides an opportunity to impress for the Sunshine Coast Lightning athletes, with Head Coach Kylee Byrne keen to see what each individual will deliver.
The chance to go head-to-head with four Suncorp Super Netball competitors in a tournament format is key to match preparations, with competition heating up for on court positions.
“We feel that the work that has been put in this pre-season, not just physically but connecting as a team and growing our netball intel, is going to set us up for some quality netball this weekend,” Byrne said.
“What this does though is raise the expectation from everyone, staff and players, about fine tuning the style we are going to play and how we are going to come together in a month’s time.”
Team Girls Cup also holds great significance for the Club’s training partners, with a position in the team currently open to replace Captain Karla Pretorius in 2022.
“We have given all training partners the opportunity in this pre-season to show us what they can do to be elevated to the match day team to replace Karla Pretorius,” she said.
“There are quite a few in contention and we are very excited to see what they can put out on court, with Ash Unie, Maddie Hinchliffe, Bridey Condren and Jada Gafa all having the potential to be given this opportunity.
“We were clear that after this weekend we would make some important decisions and the timeline had to work in with where all these athletes were, to give them all a fighting chance.
“Maddie and Ash were both coming off injuries in 2021 so allowing them time to get back to full training was only fair.”
Both Lightning and Swifts will be without their Head Coach in the first match of the series, with Byrne not allowed to join her team until Saturday evening due to COVID protocols, while Briony Akle is also isolating and has remained in Sydney.
“I am very lucky to have Christine and Vicki by my side and they will lead this team brilliantly this weekend,” she said.
“It will be different watching from home as I have never missed a Lightning match in the history of our Club.”
Lightning is poised to match up against NSW Swifts, Queensland Firebirds and Melbourne Vixens who have all been named in Pool A before facing a Pool B team in the finals on Sunday.
“I am excited with this 2022 Lighting squad, I feel we have the mix right and our early pre-season from was promising, particularly in Sydney,” she said.
This year is the first time since 2019 that the event has taken place due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its cancellation has reduced competitive game time afforded to the athletes before season proper.