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Why Byrne Is Buoyant For Round 1 ‘Away’

A blockbuster start to the season for Sunshine Coast Lightning will have Members and fans on the edge of their seats and Head Coach Kylee Byrne is patiently waiting for Saturday 1 May to arrive.

While Lightning won’t have the privilege of playing in front of a home crowd until Round 3, Byrne said there is benefit to getting on the road early, particularly with new faces in the side.

Lightning will take on Collingwood Magpies on Saturday 1 May 2021 in a Saturday night clash in Melbourne.

“I am quite happy that we get to get on the road first and can look after ourselves and form that real team connection that we were missing last year,” Byrne said.

“I’m happy with the away game so that we can get some netball under our belts to then come home to our members and fans.”

In previous seasons Lightning has regularly claimed away fixtures bring the team together and look forward to those bonding experiences interstate.

Of course, in 2020 those frequent travel opportunities were missed, with the Club only required to travel once to Townsville as part of the Queensland hub format.

Collingwood is known to challenge even the best sides when on song but a change in leadership with new Head Coach Nicole Richardson means they remain a bit of an unknown commodity.

Senior player Steph Wood, who expects to be fully fit for a Round 1 return, said when playing the Magpies you have to anticipate they will put out their absolute best performance.

“They are a quality team, they have quality players across the court and they have a new coach – who knows what she can bring and if she can bring them together,” Wood said.

“While in previous years they may not be in the top four but they are not a team that you can take lightly, as they can turn it on and wipe the court with you.

“We have to be prepped for Round One and make sure we don’t leave any stone unturned.”

New dynamics in the 2021 lineup will see an evolution to the Lightning style of netball and Wood said the team has enjoyed taking time to establish the brand they want to put out on court.

“We’ve been looking forward to what we can do as a team,” she said.

“While there’s not massive changes, we’re bringing new players in and, for example, I think Mahalia [Cassidy] is a different player to what Lauz (Laura Langman) is.

“It’s about finding out how we can play as a team – is it how we played last year or are we moving in a different direction?

“While we have the foundation of the past four years, it’s about adding that different aspect.”

After Collingwood, Lightning face a tough initiation to Season 2021, facing each of the opposing finalists from last year in Melbourne Vixens, West Coast Fever and NSW Swifts.