Lightning Building Into 2021 Season
The untapped potential of this Sunshine Coast Lightning team has Head Coach Kylee Byrne excited.
Despite the external noise and naysayers, there’s an air of confidence from within the Lightning change rooms.
While feeling prepared for Round 1, Byrne believes you can’t put a cap on what this team can achieve.
“I just feel from where we start in Round 1 to hopefully that Grand Final we will see a completely different team, just from how much they’ve grown,” Byrne said.
“There seems to be a different energy – that excitement when we were first building this Club and entering the competition is there again.”
Lightning will come up against Collingwood Magpies side on Saturday night and last year’s wooden spooners will be playing with something to prove under new Coach Nicole Richardson.
“We are not taking this game lightly, and nor should we,” Byrne said.
“I think it’s a massive danger game – Collingwood always come out of the blocks quite strong.
“We’re fully aware of the pre-season they’ve put in and they have a pretty stable group.
“They’ve had their internationals in for most of pre-season, so they have been able to begin forming combinations months ago, which other clubs have not been able to do.”
Building connections has been a priority for Lightning – despite internationals Karla Pretorius, Phumza Maweni and Australian Diamond Cara Koenen spending time outside of the Lightning environment.
What it has allowed is for Byrne to trial combinations and positional changes across the court that will boost Lightning’s competitive advantage throughout the season.
“The great thing about this team is the versatility,” she said.
“They know when we get out on court that they have to challenge each other to bring out the best for the team.
“All through our centre court they are all capable of playing different positions – there is depth across all positions, two or three deep.
“We’ve been experimenting with Mahalia [Cassidy] and Karla [Pretorius] at wing defence, we have so many combinations we can throw out there.”
Newcomer to the defensive circle Kate Shimmin is eager to play her first game in Lightning colours – which is poised to be her 100th National League Match.
“I’m more excited than nervous to play against them,” Shimmin said.
“Although Collingwood didn’t do too well last year, all teams have had a really hard pre-season and worked on their gaps and every team will be hard to play against in every single round in 2021.
“We have to be ready, we can’t be complacent.”
Lightning will need to reserve their energy for the Saturday evening game, with the match set to take place at John Cain Arena from 7pm on Saturday 1 May 2021.