PIES TAKE POSITIVE STEPS IN PRE-SEASON TASSIE TRIP

Tiarne Swersky - April 3, 2018

With an elongated off-season, the Collingwood Magpies Netball team hasn’t wasted any time in preparing for its 2018 Super Netball season.

From Perth to Hobart, to Traralgon and back to Tasmania once again, the Pies have come up against both domestic and international competition in its pre-season schedule.

Over the Easter long weekend, as part of Netball Tasmania’s TNIS tournament, the Magpies’ SSN and ANL squads travelled to Hobart and Launceston, competing against Wales and Northern Ireland in pre-season action.

The Collingwood Magpies, who were missing four of its players due to Commonwealth Games duties, defeated both Wales (56-50) and Northern Ireland (54-32) in physical outings.

“To be able to play off against international opposition is always something that you value and the TNIS gave us that opportunity which we’re extremely grateful for,” Magpies Netball head coach Kristy Keppich-Birrell said of her team's trip to Tasmania.

“The SSN is filled with international netballers, so it’s always good to be able to adapt and adjust our game plan according to the different styles that these players/teams challenge us with.

“Off the court, the trip was a great chance for us to work on our team development. Tasmania is such a beautiful place, and you can’t underestimate those off-court opportunities and the time you get to spend together as a team.”

With six of its players and the team’s training partners available, the Magpies trialled different combinations on court across the two games.

“Pre-season games provide a great opportunity for us as coaches to see which are instant connections on court and which combinations need to be worked on.”

“We have so many different athletes who can play multiple positions, so it’s exciting for us to see how our players work together in different scenarios.

“From a loading perspective, the different combinations provides us with the opportunity to manage our athletes, particularly if they are coming back from injury.”

One of those players under a loading management was defender Sharni Layton, who made her return from an ankle injury in the second game against Wales, playing three quarters of action in her first game time since June.

“It’s always great to have Sharnz back on court.”

“Her influence and presence on court is substantial. For every minute she played against Wales, her skill set continued to flourish.

“It was great to have her out on court for three quarters and we’re excited to see that load increase as we get closer to the season.”

Ash Brazill also suited up for her first netball game since finishing her AFLW season with the Magpies, and looked sharp on court as she applied relentless defensive pressure.

Similarly, attacking duo Erin Bell and Alice Teague-Neeld continued with their pre-season form, often outworking and out bodying their international defenders.

The Tasmanian Magpies, playing without captain and prominent goaler Cody Lange, put in strong performances during the TNIS, but ultimately fell to both Wales (45-71) and Northern Ireland (43-52).

For Tasmanian Magpie Kelsie Rainbow, the trip will be one to remember for a long time, after wing attack made her pre-season debut for Magpies Netball in front of her hometown crowd.

The Melbourne-based Tasmanian played a half of action in each of the SSN Magpies’ games, and made an impression in front of her local crowd.

For both the SSN and ANL programs, the attention now turns to the start of the 2018 season.

Magpies Netball kicks off its season against the Melbourne Vixens on Saturday 28 April, while the Tasmanian Magpies begin their campaign on Saturday 5 May against the Western Sting.

TASMANIAN NETBALL INVITATIONAL SERIES

MAGPIES V WALES: 56-50

MAGPIES V NORTHERN IRELAND – 54-32

NORTHERN IRELAND V TASSIE MAGPIES: 43-52

WALES V TASSIE MAGPIES: 45-71