Versatility Key For Wood In 2021
The maturation of Steph Wood as a player and person has been evident already in Season 2021 and points towards a stellar season ahead for the shooter.
An increased level of self-awareness both in training and on game day from the Sunshine Coast Lightning Vice Captain has helped Wood accept the versatility that is required of her this year.
“Taking on a leadership role I can have an influence on other players, so I need to make sure I’m calm and collected out on court because that can influence people around me,” Wood said.
The 29-year-old is showing no signs of a restricted pre-season, named MVP in Lightning’s first game of the season and continuing to build into game 2.
“I’m really enjoying my netball,” Wood said.
“My 2 games have been very different, the first game I shot more goals but on the weekend I didn’t really need to, Cara [Koenen] was doing it all so I was happy to give her the assists.”
Wood posted 8 goals and 1 Super Shot in the Melbourne Vixens win, in comparison to 18 goals and 2 Super Shots the week before – her influence in attack, however, was pivotal in both games.
The mentality shift is not lost on Head Coach Kylee Byrne.
“What I loved about Steph’s performance on the weekend – and we spoke about it after quarter time – she knew Cara had the hot hand and was totally dominating the goal keepers, so she knew the role she had to play, which was completely different to the week before,” Byrne said.
“Now with her maturity and experience she was able to say ‘it’s alright that I don’t have the same number of attempts as last week’.
Wood is known to be Lightning’s commander in attack and this selfless attitude will only help her grow and develop further as a leader.
“Her understanding of where she fits in is a huge strength for us and she will probably have to play a different role again against Fever and maybe it could be more balanced this week, who knows,” Byrne said.
“But in the heat of the moment that’s why she’s so valuable, to know the role she has to play.”
Lightning’s attack end have produced some excellent passages of play in the first 2 rounds of the Suncorp Super Netball but there is belief that this combination will only continue to grow.
A strong focus in pre-season was to finesse Lightning’s cross-court connections with the introduction of Mahalia Cassidy, however her addition has also brought about a feeling of nostalgia for Wood.
Products of the Queensland development pathway, Cassidy, Koenen, Laura Scherian and Wood have at times played side by side through the Australian Netball League feeder competition.
“Harls and Cars and I – even with Shezzy – we played together in ANL so it feels like I’m young again, it feels like I’m 22!” Wood joked.
Sunshine Coast Lightning take on West Coast Fever at USC Stadium on Saturday 15 May 2021, from 7pm.