Sunshine Coast Lightning roster boasts plenty of spark
NETBALL: Inaugural Sunshine Coast Lightning coach Noeline Taurua has expressed her delight at the make-up of her squad, after it was revealed on Tuesday.
The 10-woman outfit was finalised with a host of signings, including some international stars.
"I'm absolutely rapt by the calibre of players we've been able to secure... it's a great start,” Taurua said.
New Zealand midcourter Laura Langman and England defender Geva Mentor were among those added to the roster of the team which will compete in a new-look National Netball League.
South Africa represent- ative Karla Moster and towering former ANZ Championship-winning player Erena Mikaeire will bolster the defensive ranks.
Midcourter Kelsey Browne joins the Lightning from the West Coast Fever while shooter Cara Koenen and mid-courter Laura Scherian come to the club after scooping major gongs in the Netball Queensland awards at the weekend. Skilful mid-courter Madeline McAuliffe is also in the squad.
They join the already- signed Australian represent- atives Caitlin Bassett and Stephanie Wood in the team. The shooting duo were named in the line-up last week.
Now, Taurua is eager to put her charges through their paces when the pre- season starts in earnest on November 3.
"It's good to have a great team on paper but you've got to be able to put it into action and do the time on the court and work hard and smart,” she said.
The season starts in February and some of the players' training will be interrupted by international commitments before then.
"Because of the limited time we have together we will start to build our base right from the start and fitness and conditioning will be a big part of that,” Taurua said.
"Plus developing our court strategy and building our culture and team values and getting game time on the training court.”
Langman's presence in the midfield should provide the team with a significant boost. She has played 137 consecutive matches for the Silver Ferns and Taurua believes the 30-year-old is capable of stepping things up a notch for the Lightning, after her stint with the Sydney Swifts last season.
"Her work ethic and training ethic is very high,” Taurua said.
And Mentor's experience in the defensive line could be crucial. She has played more than 100 games for England and was last season at the Melbourne Vixens.
"Geva is a leader and she's always willing to teach others,” the coach said.
With Bassett at the front, the Lightning has a star international player in each third of the court.
Taurua said it wasn't easy to secure players to a new team but the appeal of the Sunshine Coast as a region proved particularly attractive to many of the recruits. She believed each of the eight teams boasted strong line-ups but made particular mention of the other two new identities.
"I think Collingwood is outstanding and so is GWS (Greater Western Sydney).
"It's going to be a very cut-throat competition and it will be played at a high level.”
The Lightning is a joint venture of the University of the Sunshine Coast - where they will be based - and Melbourne Storm.
Shooters: Caitlin Bassett, Stephanie Wood, Cara Koenen
Midcourters: Laura Langman, Laura Scherian, Kelsey Browne, Madeline McAuliffe
Defenders: Geva Mentor, Erena Mikaere, Karla Mostert