Sharni Layton - June 13, 2018

If there’s one thing we love in Australia – it’s holidays.

Whether that be a public holiday, a long weekend or just a day off here and there, the chance to refresh and recharge doesn’t go unappreciated.

As athletes, that comes in the form of the bye week mid-season.

For us netballers, that was the week that’s just passed. For our friendly club mates in the AFL program, they’ll be enjoying a well-deserved break this week.

The SSN is a 17-week competition, including finals.

If you compare that to the AFL season, it doesn’t sound very long, but when you include the six-month pre-season that we completed before the first game, it’s a fair stretch of time.

And for those players that endured the Commonwealth Games campaign on the Gold Coast, this bye came at an even more opportune time to rejuvenate the body and mind.

Before the bye, we secured a great victory in Tasmania against the Firebirds.

It was an incredible team effort and one that can really galvanise a group going into the second half of the season.

It was the type of performance we needed and it was the type of result we deserved.

After the game, I had a lot of people asking me about starting on the bench against the Firebirds.

To put it simply, after putting in a massive amount of work throughout the pre-season and the season so far, Matilda ‘Tilly’ Garrett earned the black and white stripes and earned the starting spot.

And while I may not have started the game on the court, I knew that I could still have an impact coming off the bench.

Whether you’re on or off the court, you’re always reading the flow of the game; you’re always talking to your teammates and you’re always preparing yourself to make an impact when called upon.

While I think it’s normal for an athlete to want to be in the thick of the action all the time, it’s such an exciting time for our team and our fans to see the young stars coming through and competing and earning their positions.

It keeps all of us pushing and striving to be the best players and people that we can be.

Whether you’re playing netball, football or any other sport, no one’s spot is guaranteed in the team. You need to earn it and prove yourself week in and week out.

Sometimes it’s your week; others it might not be.

And it’s that healthy rivalry and dose of competition that keeps you going every week.

I was so proud of the way Tilly battled against Romelda Aiken and the Firebirds in Launceston.

She’s only 19 and has already made two starts in her first year of Super Netball.

Keep an eye out for this one because she’s going to be in and around the netball scene for a long time to come.

Anyway, I got off track there a little bit. But pre pep talk, what I was saying is that I believe we are in a strong position as a team after coming off an important victory and a nice break from the bye.

This week, we meet the Giants in Sydney. They will be no easy feat. In fact, they are the ones that knocked us out last year.

They’re currently sitting second on the ladder behind the West Coast Fowler Reid (all love and laughter) and they are the number one defensive team in the league.

This will be an almighty challenge for us but I’m confident we can use the momentum from our round six win and the break from the bye to launch all that we have at this Giants outfit.

If you’re in Sydney, head along to the game at Qudos Bank Arena.

If you’re watching from Melbourne, or in Australia or around the globe, tune into Channel 9 or the Netball Live App!