Roos ex­plore new for­mula

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Netball Countdown | Footy Countdown - BY DEAN LAW­SON

The ever-chang­ing cir­cum­stances in­volv­ing year-to-year player per­son­nel again looms as a chal­lenge for Dim­boola in Wim­mera Net­ball As­so­ci­a­tion.

But for Roos A Grade coach An­toinette Toet the un­cer­tainty of how the A Grade team will come to­gether pre­sents as much an air of op­ti­mism as any­thing else.

The feel­ing comes from Dim­boola A graders ex­ceed­ing ex­pec­ta­tions last year, mak­ing the fi­nals for the third year in a row de­spite fears the club might tum­ble as a re­sult of a sig­nif­i­cant line-up change.

“We con­sid­ered any suc­cess we had last year as a bonus,” she said.

“We drew our team from B Grade and up-and-com­ing ju­niors and we re­ally sur­prised our­selves.

“We’re in a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion now as we were last year, and in­stead of sim­ply think­ing about be­ing com­pet­i­tive the ex­pec­ta­tions are higher.

“We have a bit of depth in the club and I’m one for pro­mot­ing play­ers, es­pe­cially ju­niors who we like to re­ward with a chance to ex­pe­ri­ence the pace of A Grade and se­nior net­ball.”

Toet said while the Roos would miss sev­eral es­tab­lished play­ers for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons this year, the club would wel­come back ex­pe­ri­enced cam­paign­ers who were ab­sent in 2016 with preg­nancy.

“Last year we had four preg­nan­cies in A Grade and now most of the girls are train­ing again,” she said.

De­fender and 2014 club best and fairest Abbey Greig, ath­letic Carly Werner, Tahlia Avery and Ly­dia Sch­nei­der are back in the mix and will join the likes of teenagers Bil­lie Bar­ber, who had a break out 2016, de­ter­mined mid-court tal­ent Rhi­anna Kuhne and de­cep­tive high-leap­ing Grace Lutze.

But Toet said off­set­ting the re­turn of es­tab­lished tal­ent were the de­par­tures of Grace Braith­waite, who is hav­ing time off to travel, Olivia Jorgensen, who is set to join ACE Sovereigns in Vic­to­rian Net­ball League while study­ing in Bal­larat, and Pam Ex­ell, who is go­ing to Kal­kee with her fam­ily.

Con­fi­dent

Toet, who has en­joyed a long-stand­ing rep­u­ta­tion as a high-qual­ity player in the re­gion, said she re­mained con­fi­dent enough in her group, in the early stages of the sea­son build-up, to step back from on­court du­ties and stand aside for young tal­ent on the rise.

“I’m train­ing but I’m happy to make way for new girls com­ing through,” she said.

“If there is some­thing I can of­fer the A Grade dur­ing the sea­son I’m happy to do that, but I’m also happy to sit back and play in B Grade and coach the A Grade from the side­lines.

“We train to­gether – As, Bs, Cs and 17s. We find this works for us. We can see who is show­ing prom­ise and who is per­form­ing well at spe­cific times of the year.

“We have a core group of a few fa­mil­iar faces but there is an open op­por­tu­nity for other girls.

“It is of­ten dif­fi­cult in small towns to keep a group of girls to­gether. We lose so many stu­dents to gap years and univer­sity com­mit­ments, but we’re re­ally get­ting good num­bers, which is great.”

Toet said the Roos would con­cen­trate on fitness with a mix of cross and cir­cuit train­ing be­fore ‘hit­ting the court’ at the end of Fe­bru­ary.

She said plans were in place for at least two prac­tice matches be­fore the start of the sea­son. Last year Dim­boola fin­ished the Wim­mera as­so­ci­a­tion home-and-away sea­son with an 8-8 win-loss record, which was enough to se­cure fourth po­si­tion and squeeze the Roos into the fi­nals.

The A Grade sea­son ended with Stawell, which had fin­ished fifth, beat­ing the Roos by three goals in a thrilling elim­i­na­tion fi­nal at Mur­toa.

Pic­ture: GABRIELLE ROSS

RIS­ING TAL­ENT: Rianna Kuhne, who has just turned 17, is among young play­ers the Roos will be look­ing to step up into A Grade this year.

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