Call up caps off Cassidy’s whirlwind week

2014 21/U National Championships  NSW v QueenslandIt’s been a whirlwind week for Queensland’s pocket dynamo Mahalia Cassidy.

Not only was the teenager part of the Queensland team that won the bronze medal at the 21/U National Netball Championships in its home state, she was also named as a Australian 21/U squad member at the conclusion of the tournament.

Now the 19-year-old has been called up as a replacement player by ANZ Championship side the Queensland Firebirds to cover for the injured Verity Simmons.

It’s the second time this year that Cassidy has been called into the Firebirds squad. She travelled with the team to Sydney for the pre-season Summer Shootout while Firebirds’ captain Laura Geitz was recovering from knee surgery.

Cassidy said she was thrilled to be joining the Firebirds for the next couple of months.

“It is an awesome opportunity; I am really excited and I can’t wait to see what I can do with this chance to play for the Firebirds,” Cassidy said.

“It is really disappointing to hear about Verity. She is a great player and will be back really strong. In the meantime I will try and fit in and do what I can to help the team.”

Cassidy was one of three Queenslanders chosen in the national 21/U squad after the titles on the Sunshine Coast.

The others were Firebirds’ shooter Beryl Friday and up-and-coming defender Hulita Haukinima.

“It has been a really eventful week. Nationals was really fun with all the girls but it was tough and I felt exhausted,” Cassidy said.

“So after winning the bronze meda_MCA8394Lil, the selection in the Australian squad and being called up for the Firebirds, it feels like all of the hard work is paying off, which is great.”

Firebirds coach Roselee Jencke has been an admirer of Cassidy’s game style for Queensland’s Australian Netball League side and the state’s 21/U team over the past 12 months and is looking forward to having her as part of her squad.

“Mahalia fitted in really well with the team when she came away with us for pre-season and was solid when she was given opportunity on the court,” Jencke said.

“She played extremely well at the (21/U national titles) in that wing attack position and her performance with the team at training and at pre-season earned her the spot.”

The squad of 22 players will have a training camp in Sydney and play practice matches against the Australian Diamonds and New Zealand Silver Ferns ahead of the Netball World Cup 2015 SYDNEY in August.

Champions South Australia and runners-up Victoria both have six players chosen in the squad, New South Wales is represented by five athletes and two are from Western Australia.

The 2015 Australian 21/U squad is: Gia Abernethy (SA), Kristina Brice (NSW), Kaitlyn Bryce (NSW), Mahalia Cassidy (Queensland), Taylah Davies (NSW/NSW Swifts), Beryl Friday (Queensland/Queensland Firebirds), Hulita Haukinima (Queensland), Madeline Hay (NSW), Cody Lange (SA/Adelaide Thunderbirds) Chelsea Lemke (SA), Maggie Lind (Victoria), Sarah Klau (SA), Emily Mannix (Victoria/Melbourne Vixens), Kristiana Manu’a (NSW/WBOP Magic), Kaylia Stanton (WA/West Coast Fever), Alice Teague-Neeld (Victoria/Melbourne Vixens), Numi Tupaea (WA), Maddy Turner (SA), Georgie Virgo (SA), Chloe Watson (Victoria/Melbourne Vixens), Liz Watson (Victoria/Melbourne Vixens), Jo Weston (Victoria/Melbourne Vixens).