- Tuesday 27 September 2016
An exciting blend of proven international pedigree and young homegrown talent is set to feature in the inaugural Sunshine Coast Lightning team for the 2017 National Netball League.
As one of three new teams in next year’s eight-team league and with the Diamonds shooting duo of Caitlin Bassett and Stephanie Wood already secured, the Lightning have finalised an accomplished roster which includes experienced playing depth and exciting young potential.
The inclusion of classy England defender Geva Mentor and Silver Ferns stalwart Laura Langman adds a wealth of experience and durability to the team. The pair were foundation players in the ANZ Championship, each playing for the duration of the nine-year competition and securing three titles between them.
Mentor was a grand final winner with the Melbourne Vixens and Adelaide Thunderbirds while midcourter Langman featured for New Zealand’s only winning team, the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic.
Both have played more than 100 tests, with Langman’s unbroken international streak stretching back to 2005 and including 137 caps.
With the inclusion of sharp shooter Bassett, Langman and Mentor, the Lightning are well served for experience in each third of the court.
Also joining the defensive end is experienced South African international Karla Mostert, who featured in the recent Quad Series. The versatile and hard-working defender is the first South African to feature in the National Netball League and is a renowned intercept specialist.
Adding to the defensive mix is the towering figure of Erena Mikaere who became the first New Zealander to play for an Australian team in the ANZ Championship with the West Coast Fever. She was part of the 2012 winning Magic team.
Looking to establish her credentials in the attack line, talented midcourter Kelsey Browne joins the Lightning from the Melbourne Vixens while local trio Cara Koenen, Laura Scherian and Madeline McAuliffe complete the 10-strong line-up.
Shooter Koenen and midcourter Scherian highlighted their future prospects at the elite level by scooping the Netball Queensland under-21 State team MVP and Division 1 Player of the Year awards, respectively, at the weekend.
Starting from scratch in assembling the region’s first-ever elite national sporting team had proved a challenging exercise but head coach Noeline Taurua is delighted with her final 10.
“Each of these athletes bring a different dynamic to the team, but like all teams the strength lies in the collective group,” she said.
“While we have the makings of a competitive team, we have a lot of work ahead of us to be ready for the start of the new competition in February.
“I am really excited and I can’t wait until we start training together in November to see the potential unfold.”
The squad will converge on the Sunshine Coast over the coming months as they complete their international playing commitments.
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.
2017 Sunshine Coast Lightning Squad
Caitlin Bassett, Stephanie Wood, Cara Koenen
Laura Langman, Laura Scherian, Kelsey Browne, Madeline McAuliffe
Geva Mentor, Erena Mikaere, Karla Mostert