Meegan Rooney is delighted to be recalled to the Queensland Firebirds after a year out of the squad.
Meegan Rooney is delighted to be recalled to the Queensland Firebirds after a year out of the squad.

Meegan achieves goal

By MITCHELL DALE

INSTEAD of spitting the dummy after being dropped from the Queensland Firebirds National League netball squad for 2004, former Coffs Harbour girl Meegan Rooney saw it as an opportunity to get things done.

In the last 12 months, Rooney was able to focus on study, save a bit of cash and work hard on the finer points in her game.

They are three things that she says would have been difficult to do if she was in the Firebirds squad.

With netball one of the few top-level sports that doesn't pay it's elite athletes by the truck-load, Rooney admits it was tough to fit in study, work and netball when she was in the Firebirds squad during 2003.

"It was really hard trying to balance the lot, you end up having to scrimp on everything," she said.

"We (Firebirds squad) train like professional athletes, but get paid nothing ? but we wear it because we love the sport.

"We train eight times a week, which makes it tough to fit in study and a job, especially when we have to travel for games every second week."

After re-claiming a spot in the Firebirds squad for the 2005 season, Rooney, a former Australian Under-19 representative, will defer her Primary Education degree at QUT to focus on cementing a starting position.

"Deferring Uni will make life a lot easier," she said.

"I will work on making the starting seven by the end of the (2005) season.

"Over the next couple of years I will try to work my way into the core of the team."

The 20-year-old defender says national representation is not a top priority just yet.

"Not at the moment, maybe a few years down the track," she said.

After spending last season with Queensland State League team Kedron Wavell Services Club Cougars, where she won a premiership during her first year in Brisbane in 2002, Rooney believes she is now a much better player.

"In my first year with the Firebirds I wasn't able to do as much specialised training as I would have liked," she said.

"This year I had a really good coach and I was able to bring my game up to a higher standard.

"It was also a good chance to get Uni back on track and save a bit of money."

The Firebirds kick off preparations for the 2005 Commonwealth Bank Trophy next weekend and are setting their sights high.

"We will start with pre-season training like weights, sprints and conditioning ? all the fun stuff" she said.

"We have a lot of new blood this year, which should put a bit more fire in the belly."



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