The thing about a long off-season is that you’ve got a huge amount of time to dwell on what happened the previous year.
And NNSW Waratahs did their fair share of soul-searching after a disappointing 2017 Australian Netball League showing, in which the traditional netball powerhouse finished the season just one rung off the bottom of the ladder, after making the grand final the previous year.
It’s a position that doesn’t sit well with returning team member Sophie Halpin, who says the Waratahs have thoroughly reviewed last year’s campaign and taken steps to ensure they’re back in finals contention this time around.
“Obviously last season wasn’t what we wanted. Definitely this year coming into it we’ve spoken about what went wrong, things that worked for us and things that we want to take into this season,” Halpin says.
While she’s not giving too much away about exactly what the Waratahs have done differently in order to be better prepared this season, she says a team-focused approach is at the heart of how they’ve tackled their pre-season.
“Having more experience, looking at our set plays and working on that together, becoming more unified, has helped,” she says.
“We’re definitely coming into this guns blazing and looking to make finals.”
Halpin says the team has a good mix of youth and experience, with Victorian Elle Bennetts, who previously played for Victorian Fury and has just come off a season with GWS Giants in the AFLW, bolstering the line-up, while NSW 17/U representative Matisse Letherbarrow is also an exciting prospect.
“We’ve got Matisse, and then Elle Bennetts, she’s just come from Fury and she’s a more experienced player, so having her in a New South Wales dress will be nice,” she says.
The Waratahs will know pretty quickly whether they’ve got it right this season – they take on the Fury in a Round 1 weekend double-header at Melbourne’s State Netball Hockey Centre on Saturday, May 5 at 5pm, and at Margaret Court Arena on Sunday, May 6 at 5.30pm, after the Melbourne Vixens’ game against the NSW Swifts.