Sunbury Lions are hoping more stability this season will help them reclaim the title of the best team in the Ballarat Netball League.
While the Lions claimed the minor premiership last season, they had a disappointing finals series and were knocked out in the preliminary final.
Lions’ coach Adam Boldiston said the number of changes each week throughout the last season had come back to haunt them, but there wouldn’t be a repeat this season.
He said the preliminary final loss had hurt the group and they were keen on some redemption.
“Last season we had no consistency in the line-up,” he said. “We didn’t have those connections in the attacking end come finals.
“This year we only have one player playing VNL [Victorian Netball League] and I haven’t had that before.
“I think the players will be fresher mentally and physically.”
The Lions will have the same core group as last season, led by Ash Hardy and Tarryn Munro. Only Kate Fletcher and Tarnee Adams, who both missed several games with VNL commitments and injury, aren’t returning.
Boldiston has looked within to fill the A-grade side, with Amanda Cusack, Suzi Johnson and Lauren Wishart all stepping up from B-grade. All three played several games in the top side last season.
“They know what it is about and have played there before,” Boldiston said.
“Amanda showed she can match it with the defenders and is a lot more aerial than the other attackers we’ve had. It’ll be a different element and she will combine nicely with Ruth.”
The B-grade side, which finished runners-up last season, has had several changes, and will include five under-19 players.
Boldiston said he was excited to see what this team could do.
“There’s just two players left from last year’s team,” he said.
“Some have stepped up and others have stepped down a grade. We needed some change. The young ones are finally ready to step up.
“We’ve lost some experience, but we will have that youthful excitement.”
Boldiston said some of the under-19 players would also get opportunities in the A-grade side at times to help with their development.
He said the C-grade side, which won the premiership last year, would be stronger, as would the under-19 team, with the playing group a year older.
The Lions will also have D-grade and for the first time an E-grade side.
Boldiston said overall, it would be a different feeling for the club’s netball program.
“There is an element of surprise,” he said.
“People won’t know what to expect as they haven’t matched up against these teams.”