SOUTH Warrnambool is preparing to reshuffle its midcourt ahead of its return to Hampden league finals.
Star teenager Ally O’Connor will miss the Roosters’ elimination showdown against Port Fairy at Koroit’s Victoria Park on Sunday due to Victorian Netball League commitments.
O’Connor will line up for Geelong Cougars in the open grand final.
South Warrnambool coach Mandy van Rooy admitted O’Connor’s absence would hurt.
But she is confident the Roosters’ depth will help them advance.
“It’s a massive loss. She’s our spiritual leader,” van Rooy said.
“Every time she steps on court she plays well but we don’t want to miss out on this opportunity just because she’s not playing.”
Van Rooy said Nikki Lowe, Annie O’Brien and Ruby Wilson could all play in wing defence or centre.
“The best thing this year is we have a really versatile side,” she said.
“Isabella Rea from the 17 and unders is in spectacular form and could be a fantastic option for us as well.”
The second-year Roosters mentor said she was yet to decide on a final make up for her side.
Marlie Boyd spent the first three quarters against North Warrnambool Eagles in round 18 in the goal circle alongside prolific shooter Eliza Dwyer.
But experienced goal attack Liz Byrne has been Dwyer’s partner-in-crime.
“I am still up in the air. I have changed my mind 25 times,” van Rooy said.
“Last week we knew we were going to make finals, so it was nice to make changes to know if it didn’t work that we’d at least tried it.”
South Warrnambool enters September action in a rich vein of form.
The Roosters have won five of their past six matches. Their only blemish was a draw with the Seagulls in round 15.
“We identified five or six weeks ago, which is very cliche, that every game was a final for us,” van Rooy said.
“We’ve been fantastic and I couldn’t have asked for a better lead in.
“Our work rate has lifted a lot. We were having patches of five to 10 minutes of really good netball and four or five minutes where we weren’t great.”
Van Rooy said the tie with Port Fairy was “a fantastic game”.
“It literally went down to the wire. It was a great game to watch – it was tough, physical and a highly skilled game.
“We didn’t convert well enough on the day. We had a lot of opportunities but weren’t as accurate as we’d like to have been. They are a fantastic side and move the ball well and play with speed, so we’ll have to step it up.”
Koroit and North Warrnambool Eagles meet in Saturday’s qualifying final.