BIG SIGNING: England's Geva Mentor, left, will play for the Sunshine Coast Lightning.
BIG SIGNING: England's Geva Mentor, left, will play for the Sunshine Coast Lightning. Rob Griffith

Lightning completes playing roster with swag of signings

NETBALL: The Sunshine Coast Lightning has finalised its roster for the National Netball League.

Having already signed Australia representative sharp-shooters Caitlin Bassett and Stephanie Wood, the new team announced its other eight signings.

Among them is England defender Geva Mentor, seasoned New Zealand representative Laura Langman and South African international Karla Mostert.

Defender Erena Mikaere, midcourters Kelsey Browne and Laura Scherian, shooter Cara Koenen and Madeline McAuliffe complete the line-up.

On paper, it appears to be a strong squad for the new-look Australian competition.

"Each of these athletes bring a different dynamic to the team, but like all teams the strength lies in the collective group," head coach Noeline Taurua said.

"While we have the makings of a competitive team, we have a lot of work ahead of us to be ready for the start of the new competition in February.

"I am really excited and I can't wait until we start training together in November to see the potential unfold."

In a press release, the club said it had a blend of proven international pedigree and young homegrown talent.

The inclusion of Mentor and Langman adds a wealth of experience and durability to the team.

The pair were foundation players in the ANZ Championship, each playing for the duration of the nine-year competition and securing three titles between them.

Mentor was a grand final winner with the Melbourne Vixens and Adelaide Thunderbirds while midcourter Langman featured for New Zealand's only winning team, the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic.

Both have played over 100 tests, with Langman's unbroken international streak stretching back to 2005 and including 137 caps.

With the inclusion of Bassett, Langman and Mentor, the Lightning are well-served for experience in each third of the court.

Also joining the defensive end is the experienced Mostert, who featured in the recent Quad Series. The versatile and hard-working defender is the first South African to feature in the National Netball League and is a renowned intercept specialist.

Adding to the defensive mix is the towering figure of Mikaere who became the first New Zealander to play for an Australian team in the ANZ Championship with the West Coast Fever. She was part of the 2012 winning Magic team.

Looking to establish her credentials in the attack line, talented Browne joins the Lightning from the Melbourne Vixens while local trio Koenen, Scherian and McAuliffe complete the squad.

Shooter Koenen and midcourter Scherian highlighted their future prospects at the elite level by scooping the Netball Queensland Under 21 State Team MVP and Division 1 Player of the Year awards, respectively, at the weekend.

The squad will converge on the Sunshine Coast over the coming months as they complete their international playing commitments.

Sunshine Coast Lightning is a joint venture between Melbourne Storm and the University of the Sunshine Coast. The Lightning is one of three new teams in next year's eight-team league.

2017 Sunshine Coast Lightning Squad

Shooters

Caitlin Bassett, Stephanie Wood, Cara Koenen

Midcourters

Laura Langman, Laura Scherian, Kelsey Browne, Madeline McAuliffe

Defenders

Geva Mentor, Erena Mikaere, Karla Mostert



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