Diamond stars join Sunshine Coast Lightning
  • Thursday 22 September 2016
sunshine coast lightning, netball

Sunshine Coast Lightning has signed the world’s best shooter, Caitlin Bassett and her Australian Netball Diamonds shooting partner, Stephanie Wood in a major coup for the region’s first-ever elite national sporting team.

The Diamonds shooting duo were headhunted as key pillars of Coach Noeline Taurua’s team and become the first two inaugural Lightning players announced on Thursday at Sunshine Plaza in front of a sea of netball fans.

The Sunshine Coast Lightning lured Perth native, Bassett to her second ever National Netball League team throwing the doors wide open on the new eight-team Australian competition. The former West Coast Fever player is one of netball’s most decorated players with 118 ANZ Championship games, 62 Diamonds caps, two Netball World Cups and one Commonwealth Games gold medal to her name.

The 193cm Bassett, was the first player in ANZ Championship history to shoot 600 goals in a season (2015). She eclipsed her 2014 international shooting record of 49 goals in a match, with a new record of 53 goals from 60 attempts in September’s Quad Series.

Partnering with Bassett in the goal circle in her Diamonds debut in September, Queenslander Stephanie Wood is no stranger to the Sunshine Coast, having played for the Suncoast Lynx for four years in the Queensland State League before signing with the NSW Swifts two years ago.

The 24-year old goal attack is a netballer on the rise having been part of the Swifts last two epic grand finals against the Queensland Firebirds. Wood has enjoyed a successful junior representative career having worn the Queensland bib in the 17/U, 19/U and 21/U state teams. She led the 19/U Queensland team to a remarkable National Championship win in 2010 and was named Tournament MVP before being selected in the Australian 19/U team.

Wood then captained the 21/U Queensland team in 2011, again being named in the 21/U Australian team all the while playing for the Queensland Fusion ANL team from 2009-2014 and was named Queensland Fusion MVP.

Coach Noeline Taurua said she was thrilled to have secured Bassett and Wood as part of her Lightning team.

“I believe we are looking at the next permanent Diamonds shooting combination,” Taurua said.

“Steph has the maturity, speed and smarts, and has now been given the opportunity to expand her playmaker skills, she is a product of Sunshine Coast and was the first player that we needed to sign.

“Caitlin is world class. She is agile, unassumingly physical and mentally tough and she will do her job over and over again under extreme pressure.

“Caitlin has, and will continue, to win games single-handedly. She is the lynchpin of our team.”

On her signing with Sunshine Coast Lightning Bassett said; “I can’t wait to get to the Sunshine Coast and play for the Lightning, I am used to the heat being from Perth and I have heard how amazing the beaches are and I love the beach.

“I think the new league is going to be really exciting and this move is a great opportunity for me to continue my growth and experience as an athlete, alongside a new coach and teammates in a new playing environment,” Bassett said.

“It is really exciting to see the growth of netball and being part of bringing the game to a coastal community. Igniting a passion for netball plus building that new fan base from the ground up, becoming part of a new team and culture is the most exciting part.”

Wood said she was excited by the prospect of playing with Bassett and returning home to play in front of her family.

“I’m excited for the chance to play with Caitlin. She is at the top of her game and to align myself with her and go to work with her in the upcoming season is exciting, especially with the chance to build our combination week in week out at the Lightning.

“To be part of a new team like the Lightning with the chance to build a culture, especially as the first elite regional team in the National Netball League, is great for the Sunshine Coast and I can’t wait until it all begins.

“I am so excited about coming home. Family is important to me and the chance be close to family is amazing. I was ready to give netball up a couple of years ago so I am just taking the opportunities given to me, and having another team in Queensland has given me the chance to come back home which is a dream come true.”

The team will continue to make their player signing announcements to the Sunshine Coast community over the coming the weeks as the start of pre-season in November approaches.

Sunshine Coast Lightning is a joint venture between Melbourne Storm and the University of the Sunshine Coast with the 2017 season kicking off in mid-February.

The new franchise has already announced Head Coach Noeline Taurua, Assistant Coach Kylee Byrne and CEO Danielle Smith.