Coach backs derby bid

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - JON TUXWORTH

SUN­SHINE Coast Light­ning coach Noe­line Tau­rua says the suc­cess of Townsville’s first Test has proven the city is a vi­able op­tion to stage its block­buster derby against Queens­land Fire­birds.

Tau­rua took over the New Zealand coach­ing job this year and de­scribed Townsville’s re­cep­tion as “out­stand­ing” when more than 4300 fans packed into the En­ter­tain­ment and Con­ven­tion Cen­tre to watch Aus­tralia beat her Sil­ver Ferns in Oc­to­ber.

The Light­ning, who are search­ing for their third straight ti­tle, are look­ing for a venue for the round three Su­per Net­ball clash on Sun­day, May 12, when their home court will be un­der­go­ing a re­de­vel­op­ment.

The reign­ing coach of the year high­lighted the im­por­tance of tak­ing Su­per Net­ball games to re­gional ar­eas which don’t of­ten get the chance to watch elite ta­lent.

“My ex­pe­ri­ence through the Test with New Zealand in Townsville was amaz­ing,” Tau­rua said.

“What I found was the peo­ple were very sup­port­ive of net­ball. They feel like a sport­ing com­mu­nity and the wel­come was amaz­ing.

“I love the court, it was a very in­ti­mate court which de­liv­ered a great at­mos­phere.

“I’m as­sum­ing if it was to hap­pen that a big crowd will turn up given both teams are from Queens­land. We’re all wait­ing with bated breath to see where the game will be.”

A Su­per Net­ball game has never been staged north of the Sun­shine Coast.

Light­ning at­tacker Cara Koe­nen hails from Mag­netic Is­land, while Townsville ju­nior Kim Jen­ner would also be keen for a home­com­ing with the Fire­birds squad.

“It would be fan­tas­tic if we do play there, but there’s so much un­cer­tainty and we don’t want to get hopes up,” Tau­rua said.

“There’s up­side if we do play there, or other venues that don’t get to see games live. It’s about hit­ting the ar­eas in our catch­ment, to take net­ball out there into other com­mu­ni­ties is a huge pos­i­tive for us.

“With play­ers like Cara com­ing out of Mag­netic Is­land, we need to show you can come out of those ar­eas and com­pete at the top level.”

Given they play in Perth the week be­fore, the Light­ning hope a venue will be an­nounced as soon as pos­si­ble to aid prepa­ra­tions for their ti­tle de­fence.

After star­ring for the Di­a­monds in Oc­to­ber’s Test win, former Light­ning player Kel- sey Browne en­dorsed Townsville as a vi­able venue for mar­quee games.

“I love re­gional towns and play­ing in them,” mid­court gen­eral Browne said.

“Ob­vi­ously the Sun­shine Coast was re­ally spe­cial, we had a com­mu­nity that got be­hind us and I felt like I was back on the Sunny Coast ( in Townsville).

“It was so loud and ev­ery goal we scored I could hear Townsville get­ting be­hind us.

“For us to come to re­gional ar­eas is re­ally ex­cit­ing. I think Townsville should put their hand up.”

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