Lightning strikes twice on Sunshine Coast

Sunshine Coast Lightning’s quest for back-to-back Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) titles has started in earnest with the announcement that all 10 premiership-winning players will return to the Club for the 2018 season.

Headlining the re-signing news is the retention of Lightning’s highly experienced leadership group. Captain, Geva Mentor had a stellar 2017 season, culminating in her SSN Player of the Year award as well as selection in the SSN Team of the Year at Goal Keeper. Midcourt maestro, Laura Langman was also picked in the honorary side at Centre, while prolific goal scorer, Caitlin Bassett was the league’s most consistent Goal Shooter with 589 goals at 94 per cent accuracy.

The trio will be joined by fellow international representatives, Australian Diamond, Steph Wood who will add to her two Test caps when she contests the Constellation Cup in October, and South Africa’s Karla Mostert, whose dominant defensive display in the 17-goal Grand Final victory won her the Nissan MVP medal.

The inspiring displays by former Australian 21/U representatives, Laura Scherian, Kelsey Browne and Maddy McAuliffe were positive, so too the national league debut of the squad’s youngest player, Cara Koenen. Veteran defender, Erena Mikaere helped Lightning become the competition’s top defensive side with the fewest number of goals conceded in the regular season (726).

Lightning Coach, Noeline Taurua, who will also return at the helm next year said retaining the entire team was heartening.

“We have players returning who were part of establishing this Club and its values and that’s massive,” Taurua said.

“Those 10 athletes have the same mindset which is the intention to get better and build upon what we created.

“There are good people involved in helping the Club progress and that’s promising.”

Netball Australia has confirmed the next instalment of Suncorp Super Netball will begin in April to allow for an uninterrupted campaign following the Commonwealth Games. Taurua believes the extra time to prepare is an invaluable commodity.

“We cannot underestimate the new start date. Knowing what we can do and implementing routines properly will be so beneficial for us,” she said.

“Now we can reflect on the 2017 season and identify what worked well and be clear on our objectives moving forward.

“It (extra time) provides us with a fantastic opportunity to be even more specific, efficient and effective to ensure what we put out on court next year is even better.”

The Club is pleased to announce that on top of re-signing the players and coaches, a number of Lightning’s off-court personnel have also committed to next season, with the remainder being finalised in the coming weeks.

“We are proud of the culture our Club has developed in a short space of time and the fact that important staff are back on board to defend the title is testament to that,” Lightning CEO Danielle Smith said.

Smith believes it’s imperative Lightning doesn’t rest on its laurels and finds innovative ways to be successful in season two.

With access to industry leaders in the fields of strength and conditioning, dietetics, sports psychology, physiotherapy, sports medicine, performance analysis and statistics, Lightning is well equipped for the rigours of professional netball in Australia.

“The University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) is a tremendously valuable asset for our organisation. We are extremely fortunate that it provides so much expertise in various fields,” Smith explained.

“Lightning and USC will have a coordinated and integrated approach to ensure a collective buy-in from those involved with the squad.

“Our philosophy remains the same but now we can be smarter in what we do. USC can help us find new systems that will take the team’s playing performance to a new level.

“The outlook is an exciting one for not only our Members and fans but the entire Sunshine Coast community.”

Sunshine Coast Lightning will announce its training partners for 2018 in due course.

2018 Sunshine Coast Lightning squad

#1 Steph Wood

#2 Kelsey Browne

#3 Laura Langman

#4 Geva Mentor

#5 Caitlin Bassett

#6 Cara Koenen

#7 Erena Mikaere

#8 Maddy McAuliffe

#9 Karla Mostert

#10 Laura Scherian