2018 Overall Placing: 1st

 

Coach: Noeline Taurua

 

2019 Gains:

Annika Lee-Jones (West Coast Fever)

Laura Langman (New Zealand)

Phumza Maweni (South Africa, Severn Stars, UK)

Peace Proscovia (Uganda, Loughborough Lightning, UK)

 

2019 Losses:

Caitlyn Bassett  (Giants)

Kelsey Browne  (Collingwood Magpies)

Geva Mentor  (Collingwood Magpies)

Erena Mikaere  (Northern Mystics, ANZ Premiership)

 

2019 Team: Stephanie Wood (GS/GA/WA), Peace Proscovia (GS), Cara Koenen (GS/GA), Laura Scherian (WA/C), Jaqueline Russell (C/WD), Laura Langman (captain) (C/WD), Madeline McAuliffe (C/WD), Karla Pretorius (vice-captain) (WD/GD), Phumza Maweni (GK/GD), Annika Lee-Jones (GK/GD/GS).

 

The 2017 and 2018 Suncorp Super Netball champions have undergone some mammoth changes in their line-up for the 2019 season.

Sunshine Coast Lightning have suffered a huge loss following the departure of Lightning captain and English superstar Geva Mentor (GK), Australian captain Caitlin Bassett (GS) and Diamonds debutante Kelsey Browne (WA), with all three headed to southern teams this season. Sunshine Coast fans could be forgiven for thinking the Lightning’s 2019 season was over before it began, but coach Noelene Taurua has other ideas.

With the arrival in the off-season of international players Peace Proscovia (Uganda) and Phumza Maweni (South Africa), along with Australian Netball World Youth Cup young-gun Annika Lee-Jones and the return of New Zealand powerhouse Laura Langman, there is no reason why Sunshine Coast Lightning can’t be on track for their third consecutive Suncorp Super Netball title.

The 2019 season will also see the return of Sunshine Coast Lightning regulars Steph Wood, Laura Scherian, Cara Koenen, Karla Pretorius, Maddy McAuliffe and Jacqui Russell. Although the loss of high profile players Bassett, Mentor and Browne is a blow for the Lightning, 2019 will be a chance for the remainder of the team to step out from their shadow and shine.

Recently crowned Queensland Sports 2018 Coach of the Year, Noelene Taurua is renowned for her holistic approach to coaching with a dedicated focus on discipline, hard work and fun. With changes this year in player combinations across all thirds of the court, fans can be confident she will be working hard bringing these new players in and rebuilding a solid and cohesive unit that Sunshine Coast Lightning are famous for.  

Peace Proscovia will make her Suncorp Super Netball debut in 2019. Photo: Simon Leonard

Goal Third

The introduction of goal shooter Peace Proscovia is a masterstroke by Taurua. Ugandan born Proscovia played in the Vitality Netball Superleague in the UK from 2015-2018. Her daily training regime of shooting a target of 700 successful goals is legendary and helped lead the 193cm tall Proscovia to top score in the 2017 and 2018 Superleague seasons. Captain of the Ugandan netball team, she brings a wealth of experience and talent to the Lightning team.

The combination of goal attack Steph Wood with Proscovia in the goal circle will definitely be an exciting one to watch. Wood’s elevation into the Australian Diamonds side has seen her mature into a powerful and clever playmaker. No shot is ever too close or too far for the dynamic Wood and she is a player to keep your eye on in this year’s line-up.

Cara Koenen has played more of a cameo role over the last two years, but was recently promoted to training partner for the national side, and will be keen to push for more court time. 

Maddy McAuliffe is a workhorse for the Sunshine Coast. Photo: Simon Leonard

Centre Third

The return of Sunshine Coast Lightning founding player and current New Zealand Silver Ferns captain Laura Langman promises to be a highlight of the 2019 season. A 151 international games veteran, Langman brings maturity, experience and athleticism to the centre court and will be a stabilising element within the Lightning’s new line-up. Although having played closely together in the 2017 premiership winning side, Langman will be working hard on re-establishing strong connections and combinations with centre court playmakers Maddy McAuliffe and Laura Scherian.  

McAuliffe – a former U19 and U21 Australian team member – is a dependable and committed workhorse for the Lightning. Standing at 180cm, this mid-court player is maturing into a solid and reliable player and is definitely a Diamonds player of the future. Expect these three players to slot right back into their 2017 championship winning combination in no time!

Jacqui Russell rounds out the midcourt, and has shown that she can make a strong impact from the bench when called on. She will push McAuliffe for the wing defence starting bib.

Karla Pretorius is crucial to the Lightning’s defensive pressure. Photo: Simon Leonard

Defence Third

The defection of Geva Mentor to the Collingwood Magpies this season has opened the door for South African import Phumza Maweni. The SPAR Proteas defender has played previously in the Vitality Netball Superleague in the UK, as well as her national team in the recent Quad Series and Diamond Challenge. Competing in the international arena has seen her develop a strong combination with fellow South African defender and Lightning team mate Karla Pretorius.

Topping the Super Netball ladder for the most intercepts of any player in 2018, Pretorius is a fierce competitor and a quiet assassin. The Lightning will certainly be relying heavily on the solid and experienced pairing of Maweni and Pretorius in 2019.

Another fresh face in the Lightning’s defence line-up this season is Annika Lee-Jones. At only 22 years of age and towering at 197cm, Lee-Jones is one of the tallest players in the League. She debuted for West Coat Fever in 2017 and was part of their playing squad again in 2018. With the playing experience of Maweni and Pretorius as her guide, it will be interesting to watch this young-gun further develop her game.