Don’t write off Queensland teams, warns Aussie coach
AUSTRALIAN Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander says the undisputed championship pedigree in Queensland will ensure both the Firebirds and Sunshine Coast Lightning will do some damage in the 2019 Suncorp Super Netball season.
The last four national league grand finals have been won by Queensland clubs with the Firebirds winning the last two trans-Tasman ANZ Championships before the Lightning went back-to-back in the first two Super Netball seasons.
Ahead of this weekend's opening round, the GWS Giants, West Coast Fever and two Melbourne clubs head the premiership betting with Ladbrokes with the Lightning on the fifth line of betting and the Firebirds ahead of only Adelaide who did not win a game last season.
Alexander said all the premiership medals and trophies north of the Tweed River still count for something.
"The Queensland clubs will be very competitive as always. They are not to be underestimated at all,'' Alexander said.
"They have two extremely well-credentialed and experienced head coaches. Both Roselee Jencke (Firebirds) and Noeline Taurua (Lightning) know how to win.
"They've done it all before and that sort of experience is priceless in what will be a very tight and competitive season.''
Alexander said even though the defending champion Lightning had lost a significant amount of star power with Geva Mentor, Caitlin Bassett and Kelsey Browne heading to rival clubs in the off-season, the Sunshine Coast had reloaded nicely.
"They've got Laura Langman back so she is a huge factor for them. They have also got some nice balance in their side with Peace (Proscovia) and Phumza (Maweni) at either end as the shooter and goal keeper.
"So they have the bones of a very good team there and you know they will be prepared extremely well by Noeline and Kylee Byrne.''
Alexander said the stability at the Firebirds was their biggest positive heading into the season that gets underway with a double-header on Saturday when Queensland take on the Vixens and the Lightning clash with Collingwood at Melbourne Arena.
"That front-end of Caitlyn Nevins, Gretel Tippett and Romelda Aiken is a championship-winning front-end so they've still got the firepower,'' Alexander said.
"If they can keep the scoreboard ticking over, it will take the pressure off the defensive end.
"Laura Clemesha has been around for a few years and knows how to anchor that defensive end while the two goal defenders (Tara Hinchliffe and Kim Jenner) … well the world is their oyster.
"Keeping that group together for a few seasons will really hold them in good stead and the Vixens know it will be a very hard game for them on Saturday.''
LADBROKES TITLE ODDS
GWS Giants $4
West Coast Fever $4.50
Collingwood Magpies $5
Melbourne Vixens $5.50
Sunshine Coast Lightning $7.50
NSW Swifts $10
Queensland Firebirds $11
Adelaide Thunderbirds $21
Vixens v Firebirds, Melbourne Arena, 3pm
Magpies v Lightning, Melbourne Arena, 5.15pm
Giants v Swifts, Sydney, 1pm
Thunderbirds v Fever, Adelaide, 3pm