Franchise offers ray of light to hopefuls
NORTHERN Rays coach Jillian Joyce is adamant the region has more than enough talent for the franchise to be competitive in the inaugural Sapphire League, but says they must act fast to lock up the region’s best players.
Joyce was yesterday officially announced as coach of the Rays, who will represent Townsville in partnership with the Cairns and Whitsundays netball associations.
A two- month contracting window has just begun and Joyce’s main focus is on signing as many top local players as possible.
“We have to move quickly, but we also have to be really smart in what we do,” Joyce said last night.
“There’s some players up here within this region that are fantastic players, and I think we can have a highly competitive team.
“But there’s six franchises in the southeast that are also very interested in some of our players. We need to make sure we’re moving quickly to make sure those players feel secure in the North.
“I’m really confident the program we’re offering is going to be hard to match.”
The Sapphire Series aims to bridge the gap between the former Queensland State Netball League – which featured the Magnetic North Steelcats – and the elite level including Super Netball.
The Steelcats will still field a team in the underpinning Ruby League, with coaching appointments to be made in the new year.
Joyce said the Sapphire Series means players avoid the tough choice of deciding whether to move south to chase their netball dreams, or stay at home to pursue employment or study.
The seven- team Sapphire Series will commence in June.