Lightning welcomes three new Training Partners for 2018 season

Sunshine Coast Lightning has bolstered its stocks with the signing of Steph O’Brien, Binnian Hunt and Sarahpheinna Woulf as Training Partners for season two of Suncorp Super Netball (SSN).

The trio will be fully integrated into the SSN Club and benefit from the same support services the current contracted athletes utilise.

Lightning Coach, Noeline Taurua said the Club made sure it secured the right group to join the Suncorp Super Netball champion.

“It was a thorough process to identify Training Partners for 2018. We took a long-term and strategic view to find athletes who we hope will be with our Club for many years,” Taurua said.

“All three players have so much potential and we want to provide an environment where they can learn and become better netballers.”

Assistant Coach, Kylee Byrne emphasised the importance of a seamless transition into Lightning life.

“To come into our tight-knit environment, we needed to identify athletes who would be a perfect fit and we believe these three provide exactly the right qualities we value,” Byrne said.

“They all have that natural ‘X’ factor which cannot be coached and we are looking forward to seeing what they can contribute to our premiership-winning team.”

It is a meteoric rise for 17-year-old Woulf who is still a student at John Paul College in Brisbane – the same school attended by Lightning duo, Maddy McAuliffe and Laura Scherian. Originally a shooter, the Golden South Jaguars’ player has moved into defence but could be used in the midcourt at Lightning.

“For such a young athlete, Sarahpheinna has a presence on court which we could not ignore. Paired with a maturity and desire to succeed, she was a great candidate to join our side,” Byrne explained.

Fellow teenager, Hunt is a former 17/U Queensland representative and Australian Schoolgirls team member who is comfortable at both Goal Shooter and Goal Attack.

The Deception Bay Product will work alongside current Australian Diamonds Caitlin Bassett and Steph Wood.

“To come into a premiership-winning team and learn from two of the best Goal Shooters in the world is such an exciting opportunity for her and we are certain she will make the most of it,” Byrne said.

“Due to injuries in recent years, Binnian has not been able to show the natural skill and talent she has but she is on track for a big season.”

Current Captain of Brisbane West Lions, Steph O’Brien was part of the state’s second-tier elite team, Queensland Fusion in the Australian Netball League last season. A former Queensland representative in under 17 and 21 age groups, the formidable midcourter has impressed already

“Steph is an extremely smart player who has the ability to thread a ball with finesse or power when needed. With limited opportunities in the past, we are excited to see what she can produce at this level.”

The three players will train with Lightning for up to 100 hours during the season whilst also playing in the Queensland State Netball League.