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Settled Squad Provides Edge

A strong team bond will only aid Sunshine Coast Lightning’s preparations for the upcoming 2020 season according to midcourter Jacqui Russell.

Lightning boast the same ten squad members of 2019 and those well-established relationships can only work in the team’s favour as they look to regain momentum and solidify connections.

“It could give us an edge having the same group, especially once Phumza [Maweni] is back and we are together again,” Russell said.

“We have built a lot together as a group and as a Club.

“To pick back up from where we were before the break – that may come more easily to us, as opposed to other clubs who were perhaps just starting to gel with new players when training was cancelled or postponed.”

Training alongside her teammates again has been a motivational boost for Russell.

While the hiatus from court training and restrictions around contact drills means temporary adjustments have been made, the midcourter is confident the team will quickly return to peak form.

“We started talking over our strategies – we had a big discussion earlier on in the year and we’ve now revisited those ideas,” she said.

“It’s getting your head fully back into a netball frame of mind and I think that will take a couple of weeks as we haven’t been on court together in so long.

“In a few weeks there will be more focus on game strategy and we will start looking more specifically at individual teams, hopefully there will be a draw released sometime soon.”

Russell did not waste time during self isolation, taking on a teaching role in Brisbane while also following Lightning’s restricted training regime.

The 32-year-old enjoyed the sense of normalcy and routine that teaching provided over the break, as well as spending time with her loved ones.

“I got to spend time with my partner and family and I did some supply teaching down in Brisbane,” she said.

“I was supervising the kids whose parents are ‘essential workers’ and therefore have to physically come to school.

“It was nice to get back into a school and get back into teaching mode for a little while.

“It was good to have a stint with a bit more routine and structure for a few weeks, it felt like a normal life for that period as opposed to the rest of isolation.”