Lightning aim to strike early to bolster big 2019 campaign
NETBALL: The Sunshine Coast Lightning will need to strike hard and fast in 2019 if they are to be among the frontrunners chasing premiership glory, says coach Noeline Taurua.
Taurua is back on the Coast following a roller-coaster campaign leading the Silver Ferns in the Constellation Cup and has been quick to shift her attentions towards a refreshed Lightning outfit.
Despite the departure of heavyweights Caitlin Bassett, Geva Mentor and Kelsey Browne, Taurua was optimistic about the incoming talents and the squad's chances of success come next year.
"I'm really excited by Lightning and, with us being premiership winners two years in a row, I don't feel it's to the same degree as starting afresh in 2017 - I feel we have a better base and we have really clear routines and practices,” she said.
Not only is Taurua gearing up to mentor and build cohesion with a slightly different line-up but will lead the charge into a new-look calendar for Super Netball.
In light of the netball World Cup in July, the third season of Australia's domestic competition will be split into two. The first nine rounds start on April 27 and then the season breaks for four weeks, resuming on July 27.
They recovered to championship success after losing the opening three rounds last season, but Taurua said it was key for the Lightning to avoid a sluggish start in 2019.
"Strategically we need to be able to start faster or at a better standard than we have over the last two years,” she said.
"(We will aim to) Have a lot of presence in the first nine rounds and the intention is that we will either be number one or two so post worlds we don't have to worry about placings.
"A push ahead (on the standings) in the start of the season is definitely our goal.”
Silver Fern Laura Langman will return to the fold next year, with Peace Proscovia, Phumza Maweni and Annika Lee-Jones newcomers to the Coast side.
The former was touted by Taurua as being in the mix for a top position.
"She (Langman) is a possible Lightning captain and the players plus also our CEO Danielle (Smith) and myself all vote for the players that we feel will pick up the leadership role and what our structures moving forward are,” she said.
"Those leaders will come out in the wash so to speak and she is likely one person who will be nominated.
"Laura has got a massive work ethic and training ethic so she always brings the standards and not only has she done that for New Zealand netball but she will do that for Lightning.”
Although pre-season training with a full squad is a while off, the platform for a strong campaign will soon get under way.
"Peace (Proscovia) will come in the next couple of days so I'm looking forward to meeting her and doing some work with her prior to her going to play her test match with Uganda against England,” Taurua said.
"And then slowly over the next couple of weeks everybody else will start coming in but officially we have the full squad (together) after the Quad Series in January and that's when we will be able to start working with the team.”