Firebirds fixture fantastic for foundation club

Sunshine Coast will take on the might of Queensland in a pre-season practice match on Saturday 28 January, in a pre-cursor to a blockbuster showdown between the two teams in the opening round of the inaugural Suncorp Super Netball competition.

The 2011, 2015 and 2016 Trans-Tasman netball league winner will host the match at Brisbane’s Ormiston College, in what will be Lightning’s fifth ever match as a Club.

Former Firebird, Laura Scherian, will line-up in the Lightning midcourt and said the impending clash was a fantastic opportunity for the foundation Club.

“The quality of their players means it’ll be a good hit-out for us,” Scherian said.

“It’ll be awesome to play a fellow Queensland team and it’ll be great practice for us before we meet again next month.

“They are a very different side to the one that won last year’s competition but they still have plenty of incredible talent at their disposal.”

While Scherian stated Lightning’s focus was on itself and not the opposition ahead of the massive match-up, there was one player the pint-sized powerhouse couldn’t ignore.

“Romelda Aiken is an awesome test for us. She’s been playing at the highest level for a long time and will be a massive challenge,” Scherian said.

“She’s an amazing player but I think we (Lightning) match-up well across the court so it’ll be a good battle.”

Queensland’s vice-captain this year, Caitlyn Nevins, said she was looking forward to learning more about Firebirds’ northern neighbour.

“Having a new team on the block just up the road certainly gives us motivation and adds rivalry to the competition. We want to be the best Queensland netball team and over the years to come I am sure our rivalry will become fierce,” Nevins said.

“The practice match will be a great opportunity to suss each other out. We got a little bit of insight into the Lightning’s game style during the matches at Sunshine Coast Grammar School, but we’re looking forward to a full game to better assess some of their new faces.”

Lightning Assistant Coach, Kylee Byrne, acknowledged it’ll be a tough hit-out but a beneficial one.

“We are concentrating on being better than the last time we were on court and building towards that first-round match. Playing the reigning premiers will give us a clear indication of the improvements we need to make between now and meeting them again on 18 February,” Byrne said.

“Most of the squad, who are in a heavy training phase, have had time to put their hands up and show Noeline and I what they are capable of and this match provides another opportunity for our athletes to put out a great performance.

“After our first two practice matches (Swifts and GIANTS) our training went up another gear. The lead-in to Firebirds this week means it’ll step-up another level again.”

The Queensland derby will be for Firebirds’ members only. Tickets will not be available to the public.