Shanita Smith and Mel Hayman compete for the ball in a fixture last season but this year they will both be in Colts colours.
Shanita Smith and Mel Hayman compete for the ball in a fixture last season but this year they will both be in Colts colours.

'And the girls light up'

NEW players, new teams but still one aim as netball gets under way tonight at Jardine Park with the first round of grading games.

For many of the coaches the games will give them the opportunity to test out different combinations and experiment with players as the A-grade season nears.

Some of the teams will be at least as strong as last year while others are about to start the process of rebuilding their squads for future years.

Runner-up for the past two seasons, Colts are likely to be as strong as last year even though coach Marianne Difford admits she has had little time with her players due to work commitments.

"We still have a strong core of players from last season," she said.

Experienced players Carmen Anderson and Renee Iddles have been looking after the squad, preparing the players for the grading rounds.

"They have been taking the training as a part of their leadership role," Difford said.

"Our fitness levels should be good."

Fitness of all players will be tested in the grading rounds as teams play two matches each Wednesday.

Colts may have lost some players but the quality of recruits is high with Mel Hayman (formerly Clarke) returning after having a baby and Claws wing defender Shanita Smith moving to the club from Bluebirds.

"Shanita is an asset and we are happy to have her on court," Difford said.

"We will probably have Shanita around the defensive circle."

Difford said Hayman would ease her way back into the game but added to the experience level in the team.

"We do have a lot of depth, it is just about getting the right combinations," she said.

Frenchville Mustangs coach Peter Reaburn is happy at the way his squad is shaping and believes the team will have a good balance of talented youngsters and experienced players.

"We are confident we will mix it in A-grade," he said.

Emily Champion has moved to Mustangs from Bluebirds while youngster Bridget Fletcher has come through the club's junior ranks.

Lucy Loran and Hannah Thompson, both 14, are Reaburn's "floating juniors".

"I think we will be nice and strong in mid-court," he predicted.

Ideally he would like more depth in the shooting department while he sees the defensive circle as a work in progress.

The lack of depth with shooters could be exposed tonight as Lisa Gilshenan will be missing from the Mustangs line-up.



6.15pm Crt 4 Bluebirds Hawks v RGS Magic, Crt 5 Brothers Crimson v Frenchville Mustangs

6.55pm Crt 4 RGS Magic v Angels Titans, Crt 5 Bluebirds Hawks v Frenchville Brumbies

7.35pm Crt 3 Frenchville Mustangs v Angels Titans, Crt 4 Brothers Fuchsia v Frenchville Brumbies, Crt 5 Cap Coast Marlins v Colts

8.15pm Crt 4 Brothers Crimson v Colts , Crt 5 Brothers Fuchsia v Cap Coast Marlins