Sporting blue blood bolsters ‘Birds
THE Queensland Firebirds have tapped into a rich sporting bloodline by adding midcourter Lara Dunkley to their roster for the 2020 Suncorp Super Netball season.
The 24-year-old is the daughter of former Sydney Swans star defender Andrew Dunkley and the sister of 2016 Western Bulldogs premiership player Josh Dunkley and Melbourne Demons mid-season draft pick-up Kyle Dunkley.
She made her national league debut in 2019 with the Melbourne Vixens but will head north next year as a temporary replacement for centre Mahalia Cassidy who is recovering from a knee reconstruction.
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Dunkley captained the second-tier Victorian Fury in 2018 before being promoted to the Vixens squad as a replacement player where she honed her midcourt craft behind internationals Renae Ingles, Kate Moloney and Liz Watson.
Dunkley joins 11-Test South African goal attack Ine-Mari Venter and 191cm-tall defender Rudi Ellis as new faces on the Firebirds roster while midcourter Macy Gardner has been elevated from training partner to the full-time squad.
Netball Queensland High Performance boss Richard McInnes said Dunkley was a good fit for the Firebirds both on and off the court.
"When we look for new players, we have one eye on their on-court skills and abilities and the other eye on their off-court persona … will they be a good fit and will they add to our culture," he said.
"Lara is a real team player and has a lot of promise at the SSN level. She'll help us cover that mid-court while we wait for Harls (Cassidy) to come back.
"We are very keen to get Harls back in purple, however as a club we need to ensure we are well prepared for the 2020 season, and bringing a player like Lara in will help us do that."
Firebirds coach Roselee Jencke said the 180cm-tall Dunkley could provide cover across wing attack, centre and wing defence.
"Having the flexibility to use Lara across three positions is beneficial and will give us added advantages when it comes to match-ups and opposition strengths," Jencke said.
"I'm looking forward to seeing how all these athletes work together. It's going to be an exciting season," she said.