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Mentor ready to take challenge to Fowler

Via Suncorp Super Netball

Saturday 12 May 5.00pm
USC Stadium

Broadcast:  Telstra TV, Netball Live App
On Demand Catch Up: 9Now, Telstra TV, Netball Live App

FOR SOMEONE WHO FACES ARGUABLY THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE IN AUSTRALIAN SPORT THIS WEEKEND, GEVA MENTOR DOESN’T SEEM CONCERNED IN THE SLIGHTEST.

Geva Mentor Sunshine Coast Lightning’s goal keeper will stand  against West Coast Fever’s Jhaniele Fowler on Saturday, in what shapes as the round’s most mouth-watering individual Suncorp Super Netball battle.

Fowler, whose 128 goals over the first two rounds are 44 more than any other player, presents a nightmare for opposition teams, with Magpies Netball’s Sharni Layton unable to quell her influence in another dominant display in Round 2.

But Mentor – arguably the world’s premier defender – says she’s more than ready to give Fowler the biggest test of the season thus far, as the Lightning bid to avoid a 0-3 start to the season after being crowned premiers in 2017.

“Unfortunately it’s a non-contact sport, so I can’t climb up the back of her like footy-style,” Mentor says.

“For someone who’s so tall and can jump as well it’s definitely a challenge but one I look forward to.”

Mentor says she’s fully prepared to be beaten dozens of times in one-on-one contests on the weekend, but knows that if the Lightning can take advantage of the small number of opportunities that do present throughout the match, they can take down the league leaders.

“When you look at it one on one she’s probably going to come off nine times out of 10 and be able to score those goals, so that’s really where it’s important that I connect with those out in front of me and we do score off and make those goals count,” she says.

The England international and Commonwealth Games gold medalist says that it’s almost impossible to stop Fowler once the ball is at the edge of the goal circle, so the Lightning need to create defensive opportunities further up the court.

“It’s exciting netball, isn’t it, the fact that you’ve got someone in there who’s so dominant and it really challenges those opposition teams like ourselves coming up against that.”

“That’s why I thank the lord that it’s a team sport and I’m not out there by myself facing her one on one, so I have some fantastic girls out in front of me and the pressure and the work that they do is really going to help me out the back.”

“For me I think it’s important that I keep my feet moving. It’s trying to win the ball earlier, in earlier phases through the court so as it’s coming through, trying to challenge the feeders as they’re feeding it in, making sure there’s arms up and I can … contest the ball outside the circle.”

Mentor’s cause won’t be helped by a rolled ankle she sustained in the team’s loss in the Queensland derby against the Firebirds last week, but she says the injury has come up well and she’ll be fit to play.

“I think it’s the nature of the sport, rolling ankles. It was strapped up well and I think that’s obviously proved me well this week because I’m back on court today, so I’m looking forward to getting out there with the girls,” she says.

“What a fantastic opportunity for us. Obviously we’ve been on the road for the first two games, so to actually have our home game here and to play the top of the table, they’re leading the way at the moment and it’s going to be a massive challenge for us not only in the circle but all the way through the court. I think the whole team are just really looking forward to not only getting in front of our own crowd but having that challenge in front of us.”

The Sunshine Coast Lightning take on the West Coast Fever on Saturday at 5pm AEST at the USC Stadium. Watch it LIVE on Telstra TV or the Netball Live app.