Sunshine Coast Lightning has announced Netball World Cup gold medallists Steph Fretwell (née Wood) and Cara Koenen will return to the Club in 2024.

The two shooters have formed a formidable combination for Lightning’s attack-line, after seven strong seasons at the Club under their belts as Lightning foundation players.

While Fretwell announced her retirement from international netball in August following the World Cup, she was Lightning’s Captain last season — her smarts, experience and leadership invaluable to the side.

Koenen is one of the most illusive and reliable goal shooters in the game, not only providing a strong connection with Fretwell, but is a crucial target for Lightning’s attack-end who has also proved her ability to play both goal shooter and goal attack.

Lightning Head Coach Belinda Reynolds spoke highly of the duo along with their individual strengths and connection on court.

“Steph and Cara are the backbone of this Club and I couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome them both back in 2024 for their eighth season at Lightning,” she said.

“Steph is a fearless leader both on and off the court. She gives her all to this Club and leads by example at trainings and on game days. She continuously out-smarts her opposition and plays an instrumental role in our attack-end.

“Cara is an incredibly strong player, but it’s her footwork, speed and athleticism which has really cemented her as one of the best shooters in the league. She continues to grow her game and I am excited to see what she will bring to the 2024 season.

“The connection these two players have on the court is up there with the best in the competition and it only improves year-on-year. It’s incredible to watch.”

2023 Captain Steph Fretwell said returning to Lightning was an easy decision.

“There was never a doubt in my mind about returning to Lightning for another season. This Club is my home and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” she said.

“I’m really excited to return for my eighth season and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can achieve in 2024.”

Koenen reflected on her time at Lightning and said she was excited for a new challenge.

“It’s pretty wild that I’ve been at Lightning for seven years. I love our fans and the Sunshine Coast community, and I can’t wait to line up again for my eighth season with this Club,” she said.

“With a few new players coming into the mix I’m excited for the challenge of working them into the Lightning environment.”

Lightning’s official 2024 roster:
  • Mahalia Cassidy
  • Ava Black
  • Liz Watson
  • Leesa Mi Mi
  • Steph Fretwell
  • Cara Koenen

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