Squads showcase netball talent

A COMBINATION of youth and experience will carry the hopes of Warrnambool and District in the 2014 Western Regional State League.

Warrnambool and District selectors have named a 10-player open squad for the nine-week tournament, which gets under way on January 30.

Premiership-winning Old Collegians coach Lisa Arundell will guide the side, which also includes Warriors Steph Townsend and Sophie Ballinger.

Rachel Jaynes (East Warrnambool), Steph Jamieson (Panmure) and Josie Ellerton (Panmure) complete an impressive attacking group.

Panmure’s Mandy Van Rooy, Timboon Demons’ Kelly Plozza, East Warrnambool’s Kate Ryan and Deakin University pair Lisa Anders and Liz Fowler also feature.

Arundell said five of the squad  — Townsend, Ballinger, Van Rooy, Plozza and Ryan — earned selection in the 2013 WDFNL team of the year. “I haven’t had a lot of involvement with the State League team until last year but I’m looking forward to it,” she said.

“It’s a fairly good team, there’s a lot of talent. I think we’ll have a red-hot go.”

Arundell said the squad, arguably the strongest the WDFNL has fielded in the WRSL, had a fast midcourt and height at both ends.

She said training would focus on “getting our combinations right and seeing who gels best in goals”.

“By the time we take to the court we want the girls working in together really well. They’ve played against each other but never played together,” she said.

Meanwhile, Warrnambool City has put together a seemingly formidable line-up for its Western Regional State League debut.

New Russells Creek coach Rhiannon Cuomo is at the helm of the eight-player squad, with players from a variety of competitions.

Goalers Katie Burt and Leah Kermeen lead an experienced attacking line capable of shooting match-winning scores.

Defenders Genevieve O’Connor and Jordyn Billings were part of Ballarat Pride’s 19 and under squad.

Katie O’Keefe, better known as one of Warrnambool’s top basketballers, will also have a defensive post.

Anna Archie, Sarah Jacobs and Liz Byrne are the midcourt options while there are other players Warrnambool City can call on if required.

Cuomo said she was still learning about her team but was upbeat about its prospects in the competition.

“I think it’s pretty even across the court. Obviously our two goalers are pretty well-known and respected,” she said.

“You’ve got more of a junior defence end. Katie is the older head but she hasn’t got the experience of playing netball for years.”

Cuomo said she expected the WRSL to be a high standard. “I’ve had a quick look  through the other teams and they’re all very good quality”.

She said the competition would also give her insights into players Creek could come up against during the WDFNL season.

“It’s good for the start of your own season, Hampden or District league — you’re already on a roll,” she said.

“You’ve got quality from the get-go rather than warming up for the first few games.”

The 2014 WRSL will have seven rounds of matches before a two-week knockout finals series. The grand finals are on March 27.

afawkes@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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