Busy captain welcomes break after helping next generation
AFTER a beneficial battle against the competition leaders and coaching at the state junior titles, Stephanie O'Brien appreciated a few days to relax.
The USQ Ipswich Jets captain was planning a short break at the coast before refocusing on her team's quest to make this year's Sapphire Series grand final.
The Jets beat Thunder 61-48 in their latest clash, a fortnight after finishing strongly against pacesetters Cougars and only losing by three.
O'Brien also coached the Jets 16 years side that finished seventh at the highly competitive Queensland Junior Championships last week.
She was thrilled to see Kiara Condon, Renae Cubby and Kirsten-Lupe Tanielu selected in the Netball Queensland under-17 squad for a training day before a final team was chosen for next year's national championships.
The Jets 18 years side finished fifth at the same tournament with Naomi Solomona and Olivia Roberts chosen in the state under-19 squad, also preparing for next year's nationals.
Solomona, Roberts and Condon are regulars in the Jets Ruby Series team, which trains with the Jets Sapphires.
O'Brien said the Jets players of the future gained plenty of encouragement after only losing by narrow margins to the eventual Bond University 16 years and 18 years victors.
"The girls were pretty excited by that to know that we could have beaten them,'' the Bremer State High School PE teacher said.
"It's a really good opportunity to play against the players that have played in Sapphires and Rubies competitions.
"Some of those (junior state titles) teams have pretty much their Ruby team backing up.
"For our girls that are playing at that level, it's a pretty tough competition. It's the best players in that age group.''
As captain of the Jets Sapphires and a dedicated coach, O'Brien was pleased to see the regional development.
That continued when Rubies regular Bella Rynne was promoted to the Jets Sapphires side for Sunday night's clash at the Queensland State Netball Centre. Rynne received her higher level opportunity at goal attack.
Wing attack/centre O'Brien said the latest top team win was important after facing the Cougars then having a bye.
"We did lose a quarter (the third) but clawed it back in the end,'' she said.
O'Brien conceded her team prefers to play every week rather than have a bye.
However, the short break allows the netballers to rest their bodies.
Vice-captain Brooke Hams was also closely monitored before the latest game after spending a night in hospital with a kidney infection.
However, Hams played on Sunday night to the relief of O'Brien and the Jets team.
Although losing the previous top-of-the-table battle with Cougars, O'Brien said the Jets gained valuable knowledge from their first loss of the season.
"That Cougars game, we were in it the whole time. It's just we had a few lapses,'' she said.
"Knowing that we didn't have our best game and we still only lost by three was huge confidence for us.
"When we do actually come up against them next time, we can play our full game.''
O'Brien also switched from her usual wing attack role to centre to strengthen Ipswich's mid-court after quality opponents.
"I'm pretty used to it,'' she said of positional changes.
She is more comfortable at wing attack because of the defensive duties.
"But either way, I'm happy,'' she said.
The unbeaten Jets Rubies play Tigers on October 11 in a top-of-the-table clash.
Both Jets sides teams have this weekend off due to Vicki Wilson Cup being played at Nissan Arena.