Busy Goodna players refreshed to win back QPL title
THE Goodna Sapphires have enjoyed one benefit from the delayed Queensland Premier League season starting on Thursday night.
Rather than a hindrance, captain Robyn Walsh said it was helpful for her team to have some time away during the normally busy winter netball season.
"Most of our team play indoor netball as well, and we average about 3-4 games per week combined with Sapphires games,'' the experienced representative player said.
"So it was good to take a break and give our bodies a rest.''
Goodna is playing MacGregor Open Red in Thursday night's first round match of the new QPL SEQ Cup competition, delayed due to the coronavirus.
"It has been difficult, as nothing could be organised until Suncorp Super Netball had figured out their structure for the 2020 series,'' Walsh said.
"Once this was completed all other competitions were then able to sort out their season, hence the late notice for the draw/structure etc.''
Like other teams returning, last year's runners-up will have to follow a host of changes.
They include 12 minute quarters, instead of 15, to allow time to clean courts and equipment between matches.
Players and supporters have a limited time to warm up after checking in via an app.
"Netball Queensland have a new app called Live Scores,'' Walsh said.
"This is used to mark attendances, keep scores, etc. All information, draw, ladders etc can all be found on the app.
"I figure they are trying to be all digital to avoid contact.''
Walsh said most of the Sapphires players had done their own home workouts during the break from competition.
"We were fortunate enough to have a training game last week against the Ipswich Jets,'' she said.
The Ipswich Jets Reserve Grade side play in the higher level Ruby Series. The Jets Rubies made last year's grand final.
"It was great to have a game before the season started and even more pleasing that we came away with the win,'' she said.
"With little to no netball played in the last five months, we were very happy with our performance we put out on the court.''
However, the Sapphires will be without senior player Angela Ray who fractured her finger.
The highly respected team leader said everyone was just happy to be finally playing.
"It is very important,'' she said of netball returning.
"We are all really good friends and all highly competitive, so to be able to get back to normality and do what we love is a relief.''
As for her fourth season as captain of the three-time grand final champions, Walsh said she was going "really well''.
"I did a lot of work in the off season and during COVID, so looking forward to seeing if all my hard work paid off,'' she said.
"I play against players much younger then myself so I need to be able to keep up with them.
"We have a great bunch of girls with a mix of experience and youth, so we just need to put it all together on the court.
"We do not put expectations on ourselves, however we play to have fun and win.''
Thursday (6.30pm) - Goodna v MacGregor Open Red at Queensland State Netball Centre.
Goodna Sapphires squad for 2020 season: Robyn Walsh, Rebecca Asquith, Lisa Tucker, Tayla Collier, Angela Ray, Renee Keith, Sarah Cullen-Reid, Renea Kalao, Chrissy Peever. Coach: David "Scooby'' Eustace. Manager: Lauren Lavea.