The DC North East Blaze are ready to rise-up to the challenge and claim back-to-back Premierships in the Bupa Victorian Netball League, says defender Micaela Wilson.
Maintaining a large portion of their winning Squad, and recruiting some big names to the club, including 2017 Magpies netballer Cody Lange, the Blaze are looking in good stead to continue their success from last year.
However, with key players such as Lange and Mary Livesey missing parts of the season due to the alignment of the Bupa VNL and Deakin University ANL seasons, and club stalwart Ella Bayliss missing the first half of the season, adjustments will need to be made in the Blaze team.
“There’s been a bit of movement within our Championship team, with Ella Bayliss out for the first half of the season at least and missing a couple of our girls to the ANL program,” said Wilson.
“We’re just focussing on some new combinations and building different partnerships across the court.”
2017 was a standout year for Wilson. The former Magpies Netball and Melbourne Vixens athlete claimed Grand Final MVP in her team’s inaugural win, and also took home Margaret Caldow Most Valuable Player Award, the league’s best and fairest.
In 2018, Wilson will look to continue that form, but with added challenges: missing her long-time defensive partner, Livesey, for the start of the season.
“I’ve worked with Mary for as long as I can remember, and I love it. That girl can read my mind,” said Wilson.
“However, this won’t be the first time our Championship group have had to be flexible with players in and out with other netball commitments, so the show goes on. We are lucky to have so many other talented defenders ready to slot in and take the court.”
Whilst ANL commitments take some athletes away, an opportunity presents itself to other players to step up within the Championship Division.
One of these players is Sarah Hogan, who is the currently the Assistant Coach for the U17 Victorian State Team.
“Sarah is an experienced player with amazing creativity and smarts. She has really stepped up her leadership this pre-season and is hungry to back up her performances from last year, so she’s one to watch for us,” Wilson said.
Another athlete to watch for the Blaze is Tayissa Coppinger, who can take the court in five of the seven positions.
“She could play Goal Keeper, Goal Defence, Wing Defence, Centre and Wing Attack, which is amazing.
“Depending on where we need her, she just puts on the bib willingly and has a red hot go.”
New combinations aside, the Blaze will be out to look for back-to-back Premierships.
With a target on their back? Wilson thinks so.
“I would say so, but we’re all up for the challenge.”
The first round of the Bupa Victorian Netball League begins on Sunday 29 April.