Sunshine Coast Lightning will play the Collingwood Magpies this weekend as part of First Nations Round at UniSC Arena on Kabi Kabi Country.

After losing to GIANTS Netball last weekend, playing in finals is no longer possible for the Sunshine Coast side, but there is still plenty to play for with four rounds left of the season.

Lightning Head Coach Belinda Reynolds said it’s important the team finished strong.

“Obviously with finals out of reach, our focus does shift slightly. We’ve been proud of most of our performances this season, and it’s certainly a focus to finish off strong, but also look to focus on what we need to do for next year,” she said.

Looking ahead to the game this weekend, Reynolds reflected on the last time Lightning played Collingwood.

“We played really well against Collingwood on ANZAC Day. Obviously Collingwood are in a world of hurt at the moment and they’re rallying together so we know it will be a strong united front coming for us this Saturday night. We’re going to prepare just as well as we have done for every other game,” she said.

“We expect a tough battle against Collingwood but again we do match up really well against them, so certainly looking forward to that contest and we want the win as well.”

The Lightning camp has experienced a number of season-ending injuries this season, with three players ruled out with ruptured ACLs.

“We’ve definitely had to rotate our roster this year because of the injuries we’ve had already this season. I thought when the younger athletes in our squad have taken the court this year, they’ve had great impact. We will look to see what they can do in the games ahead, and I’m sure they will take those opportunities with both hands and work towards the opportunity,” she said.

“Injury hasn’t been ideal this year, but we’ve made no excuses for that. We’ve obviously been really close in our performances but we haven’t put that down to injury, we’ve put it down to making sure we’re finishing off games. So we’re certainly looking to make sure we’re searching for that fourth quarter performance in the last few games.”

Charlie Bell is looking forward to the game on the weekend and putting out a strong performance.

“We just really want to finish these last four games strong. Our goal is to finish top of the bottom four,” she said.

“Collingwood are going to come with nothing to lose this weekend. They’re going to come all guns blazing and just really hit us with whatever they’ve got – and we’re definitely ready. The preparation we’ll have in training tonight and the next couple of days will be really good for our game on Saturday.”

Bell spoke highly of the First Nations design the players will be wearing on their dresses for the next two weeks.

“I love all the colours. The serpent is probably my favourite part because each of the body parts on the snake represents the seven players of the team, which I just feel like really unites us as we’re wearing it on game day,” she said.

“It’s a really special round and I think not only should it be celebrated for this round and the next, but every round. I think putting the Indigenous community on display more is definitely something we need to work towards in our sport.”

Sunshine Coast Lightning will take on the Collingwood Magpies this Saturday at 5pm at UniSC Arena on Kabi Kabi Country. Watch live via Foxtel or Kayo Freebies.

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