Big names re­turn to bol­ster side

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

War­rack Ea­gles will be strength­ened in 2017 by the re­turn of two Wim­mera Net­ball As­so­ci­a­tion Heather Hatcher medal­lists.

Ex­pe­ri­enced de­fender Penny Fisher and mid­courter Sarah Spicer will no doubt have plenty to of­fer the club on and off the court.

Spicer has stepped up into the A Grade coach­ing role along­side Jane Richard­son.

The pair has taken over the reins from Emma Kos­chitzke and Zan­dria Malone, who will coach other grades this sea­son.

Richard­son said she was pleased to wel­come back two 2015 pre­mier­ship play­ers.

“Penny is back from a year off fol­low­ing a knee re­con­struc­tion, while Sarah had a year off to have a baby,” she said.

“They’re back train­ing and play­ing well. We also have a cou­ple of po­ten­tial play­ers we’re talk­ing to.”

The club has re­tained the ma­jor­ity of last sea­son’s A Grade team, but will be with­out tal­ented young shooter Ella Bibby in 2017.

“Ella has been se­lected to play for Bal­larat Sov­er­eigns’ un­der-19 team,” Richard­son said.

“We’ve also lost Leiah Mcken­zie, who will play for a Bal­larat team while she goes to univer­sity. Kiani Ste­wart is off to uni in Bendigo and will play over there.”

Richard­son said the Ea­gles were yet to make team se­lec­tions, with grad­ing oc­cur­ring through­out the next few weeks.

She said pre-sea­son was pro­gress­ing well.

“Our num­bers have been re­ally good, even at our very first train­ing night,” she said.

“We have a lot of girls to choose from, in­clud­ing a lot of lo­cal girls, which is great.

“We’ll fill all se­nior teams and we’re hop­ing to have a 17 and un­der team this year, de­pend­ing on num­bers.

“There is a re­ally good at­mos­phere around the club.

“The girls are re­ally happy and en­thu­si­as­tic and look­ing for­ward to the sea­son.”

Richard­son said the club was rel­a­tively happy with how it fared in 2016.

The Ea­gles’ A, B and C grades made it through to the semi-fi­nals, while the 13 and un­ders pro­gressed to a pre­lim­i­nary fi­nal.

“I think last year A Grade was happy to make fi­nals con­sid­er­ing the de­par­ture of so many girls from the year be­fore,” Richard­son said.

“The team im­proved as the sea­son went on. They were dis­ap­pointed to lose their fi­nal by a goal, but over­all, they were happy.”

Richard­son said all teams would aim to qual­ify for fi- nals in 2017. “We’ll work on im­prov­ing what the girls did last year and see how we go,” she said.

She ex­pects the tough­est com­pe­ti­tion to come from ‘the usual sus­pects’.

“Hor­sham and Minyip-mur­toa will be up there again,” she said.

“From what I’ve been read­ing in the me­dia, a lot of teams look like they will im­prove and some have re­cruited well.

“To read that Nhill is in a much stronger and pos­i­tive po­si­tion this year is great. It’s good for the club and the com­pe­ti­tion.”

War­rack Ea­gles are train­ing twice a week on Tues­days and Thurs­days.

Richard­son said net­ballers would play prac­tice matches against South­ern Mallee Giants on March 24.

“It will give us a good op­por­tu­nity to try a lot of dif­fer­ent com­bi­na­tions,” she said.

War­rack Ea­gles start their 2017 Wim­mera league cam­paign against Dim­boola at Dim­boola on April 22.

Pic­ture: WILLAMY IMAGES

WEL­COME RE­TURN: 2015 pre­mier­ship play­ers Penny Fisher, GD, and Sarah Spicer, C, will re­turn to War­rack Ea­gles’ A Grade line-up this sea­son.

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