Waratahs keen to build on encouraging start

As they headed to Brisbane for last weekend’s opening round of the Australian Netball League, NNSW Waratahs coach Briony Akle was unsure what her team would produce.

The Waratahs had been forced to make late changes to their original squad on the eve of the season through the loss of experienced ANL athletes – in particular Kim Commane and Emily Keenan.

Fortunately, NSW has an abundant of emerging talent to call on from the state’s Netball Australia underage national championship teams – and Akle was delighted how quickly they handled the step-up as Waratahs returned home with a win and a draw from their opening matches against QLD Fusion.

Pictures courtesy of Peter Burton Photography and David Callow

She highlighted the performances of 17/U defender Teigan O’Shannassy, 19/U shooter Kiera Austin and 21/U midcourter Madeline Hay – a former Swifts squad member – as important.

BurtonPhotography-12234664175“From our original starting 12 we lost some experienced players to ANZ Championship sides – which is fantastic for them – but it was great to see their replacements come in, play so well and fit in so well last weekend,” Akle said.

“There’s huge potential in our squad to keep growing considering if you went through the names on our list, they haven’t had a lot of court time together. It’s building culture and belief that they’ll get opportunities for court time.

“So it was an encouraging start.”

This weekend the Waratahs host the Canberra Darters in two matches at Netball Central, Sydney Olympic Park, on Saturday night and then Sunday afternoon following the ANZ Championship encounter between the NSW Swifts and New Zealand side Central Pulse.

Darters were competitive in both losses against reigning champions Victorian Fury in Melbourne and Akle said the Waratahs wouldn’t be taking them lightly.

She said the Darters’ line-up looked strong with imports Hayley Mulheron, the Scotland captain, Natalie Eldridge (NSW) and Mary Livesy (Victoria) leading the way.

“They’ve got a couple of New South Wales players in their squad and I know what their potential is,” Akle said.

Darters coach Melinda Clarke took a lot of positives from their opening round against the Fury.

“We had some really competitive quarters where we matched Fury. But at this level you need to have four good quarters and that’s our challenge for this weekend,” Clarke said.

“Much of what we need to improve on we can control – such as our starts to games – so I’m confident of a positive showing against Waratahs.”

Akle said Swifts coach Rob Wright would wait until Sunday to decide whether any of his squad will be available to line-up for Waratahs.

Week Two Fixtures
Netball NSW Waratahs v Canberra Darters

Saturday, May 7
Netball Central, Sydney Olympic Park

Sunday, May 8
Netball Central, Sydney Olympic Park
Click here to follow the scores and detailed stats.