Top-three am­bi­tion

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Netball Countdown - BY SARAH SCULLY

War­rack Ea­gles will look to push fur­ther into Wim­mera Net­ball As­so­ci­a­tion fi­nals in 2018 af­ter re­tain­ing the ma­jor­ity of the club’s A Grade team.

Play­ing coach Sarah Spicer, who will again share the role with non-play­ing Jane Richard­son, said it would be busi­ness as usual as the team looked to build on its strong foun­da­tions.

“We ended up fin­ish­ing third on the lad­der last year and fourth in fi­nals,” she said.

“Our aim is to fin­ish in the top three again and then to go one bet­ter in fi­nals.

“Our ma­jor goal is al­ways a premier­ship, but if you can go one bet­ter than the year be­fore then that’s good too.”

Spicer said she and Richard­son had se­lected a squad of nine in­stead of 10 this sea­son.

“Not much has changed in A Grade, re­ally,” she said.

“The main dif­fer­ence will be that I only played three games last year and then I had to have a knee re­con­struc­tion, so I’ll be right to play some­time af­ter May.

Me­gan Werner, Bri­odi Mcken­zie, Emma Kos­chitzke, Penny Fisher, Jess Kelly, Brite­nie Power, Jenna Schulz and Zan­dria Malone are all back for an­other sea­son.

All eight played A Grade matches at some stage last year.

Spicer said she was ex­pect­ing all her charges to play their role, how­ever she

was ex­pect­ing mid­courter-de­fender Kelly to step up this sea­son.

“Jess has come a long way in the past three years and I’m look­ing for­ward to see­ing her con­tinue on. Her fit­ness is re­ally good and she’s been train­ing well,” she said.

“I’m hop­ing Bri­odi can step up in goals this year and I think she will. She’s also look­ing re­ally fit.

“In say­ing that, I’m ex­pect­ing every­one to do what I know they are ca­pa­ble of. They’re all good play­ers, that’s why they’re in A Grade. I’m look­ing for them to be com­pet­i­tive and con­sis­tent each week.”

Spicer said pre-sea­son was trav­el­ling well, with the club at­tract­ing good num­bers again this year.

She said a high­light for 2018 was the re­turn of a 17 and un­der team.

“We haven’t had the num­bers in our ju­niors to have un­der-17s for a cou­ple of years and to have a team again was def­i­nitely an aim for the club this year,” she said.

“Although we’ve had strong se­nior num­bers we haven’t had the op­por­tu­nity to bring up ju­niors through the se­nior ranks and pro­vide them with that ex­pe­ri­ence.

“We’ve only just got enough for un­der-17s and an un­der-15 team but we’re hop­ing to con­tinue to build up our ju­niors and we’re ex­cited about work­ing with them this year.”

The Ea­gles had an­other good sea­son on the court in 2017, with A, B and C grades all en­joy­ing a taste of fi­nals ac­tion.

“Our B Grade made it to the grand fi­nal, which they haven’t done in a while. Mak­ing fi­nals in all three se­nior grades is a very healthy sign for the club and we’ll be out to do the same this year. With the teams we have I think we are ca­pa­ble of it and hope­fully we will all be able to go a step fur­ther,” Spicer said.

The Ea­gles will start their 2018 cam­paign when they host league new­comer and fel­low Yar­ri­ambi­ack force South­ern Mallee Gi­ants on April 14.

“It’s go­ing to be weird be­cause I’m a War­rack girl and grow­ing up we al­ways had a ri­valry with Beu­lah, even though we were in dif­fer­ent leagues,” Spicer said.

“I think it’ll be great to have an­other team in the com­pe­ti­tion though. I’m not too sure what to ex­pect from them but I guess we’ll see soon enough.

“I’m look­ing for­ward to the sea­son start­ing. Af­ter you put in eight to 10 weeks of pre-sea­son, you’re ready to be re­warded with some time on the court.”

Jess Kelly

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