Russell continues impressive form during Lightning trials
NETBALL: Pre-season standout Jacqui Russell continues to impress onlookers, with Lightning coach Kylee Byrne further lauding her efforts during clashes with West Coast Fever.
The 31-year-old midcourter was among those to shine during the Sippy Downs-based outfit's two practice games against Fever at USC Stadium on Friday night and Saturday morning.
Lightning fell 62-57 in the first outing before winning 58-55 on Saturday.
Russell was among those to embrace multiple roles during the match, playing in wing defence, centre and even a quirky stint in goal attack.
"I thought Jacqui Russel did a fantastic job," Byrne said.
"She offered something really different for us in WD and C and her energy that she brings actually lifted people at vital times.
"We only came in with two shooters on (Friday) night just through a few niggling injuries so Jacqui played goal attack which we've never seen before and the Sunshine Coast crowd certainly loved it."
Cara Koenen was also solid in the outings, shooting 34 from 41 (83 per cent) on Saturday.
"I was very impressed with Cara Koenen ... she took some really tough ball from two international defenders in Courtney Bruce and Stacey Francis and then turned and had a really high volume of shooting," Byrne said.
Byrne had earlier lauded Russell's pre-season prior to the weekend's practice matches and was optimistic the midcourter would enjoy a big year for the club, especially with Super Netball's rolling substitutions rule in effect.
She believed Russell would be another genuine option to fill the centre role if needed.
"She came in to pre-season in really good condition and ready to put her hand up and we've certainly noticed her in all of our training sessions," Byrne said.
"Her ability in attack has been a big one and her ability to just lose that defender and get free.
"While it sounds pretty simple it's more the way she's been doing it in that she's so quick now and with a real pre-season under her belt she's got some real strength.
"Jacqui also brings some real smarts to netball so it's about being able to combine it all, you can be fitter and faster but it's the how and when to use it in netball and that probably has been my biggest impression of her at the moment."