NT sets sights on ANL consistency

The new Suncorp Super Netball points system would suit the Northern Territory’s Australian Netball League team, the Territory Storm, perfectly.

It’s not being unkind to suggest that the Storm probably won’t be in ANL finals contention this year, having previously been winless in the competition for many seasons.

But with Sunshine Coast Lightning’s training partners and a strong core of young talent in this year’s squad, it’s not out of the question that they might snare a memorable breakthrough win.

For now, though, coach Penny Shearer says the team is focused on winning quarters first, which happens to be a key component of the new Super Netball system, under which many of the squad members aspire to one day play.

“For us, keeping the margins as close as possible is definitely a target for us, and potentially looking to win some quarters,” Shearer says.

“We’d love that to translate into an entire game, but if we start off winning quarters here and there and one by one, then that (winning) game is going to come.”

The Storm has faced familiar hurdles in 2018, with their athletes living far and wide and only coming together for the first time in March.

“For us it’s been tough, as it always is, considering we’ve got athletes spread all over the place,” Shearer says.

“We’ve got an athlete in Alice Springs, an athlete in Darwin, Melbourne, Sydney. Although we’re lucky this year in that we’ve got seven of them in Queensland, so we’ve actually had a bigger number in the one place this year, which is great because they’ve been able to train together.”

In truth, Territory Storm’s stocks have never been stronger, as the team enters the second year of its partnership with the Lightning.

Lightning training partners Emma Tickner, Steph O’Brien and Binnian Hunt will spearhead the Storm’s assault on this year’s eight-week tournament, and Shearer says it’s exciting to be giving exposure to players like Alice Springs’ Ruby Farthing, who captained NT’s 19/U team at the recent National Championships.

“From an ANL perspective we’ve got a fair bit of youth. We’ve got a few that played last year, a few that are new and obviously our Queensland counterparts, some of whom have been a part of (Queensland ANL side) Fusion in the past,” she says.

“We’ve actually got a bit of experience this year, which is nice.”

“For us, we do measure success by both on and off the court. It’s very much about the holistic athlete development, not just about netball performance as a team. As long as all of our athletes have shown some growth and development and improvement, giving them some resilience and tough skills to transfer into other parts of their life, that’s important.”

The Territory Storm start their ANL campaign on Saturday May 5 and Sunday May 6 with games against Fusion in Queensland. Their first home games are the following weekend at Marrara Stadium in Darwin.