Sport

Lightning ramps up talks with players for next season

TEAM EFFORT: The Sunshine Coast Lightning.
TEAM EFFORT: The Sunshine Coast Lightning. Peter Wallis

NETBALL: Sunshine Coast officials will on Tuesday ramp up their efforts to form another premiership-winning team.

The Lightning sent shockwaves through the sport on Saturday, when it won the national league in its first campaign.

Now, the club is focused on collating a squad which can defend the crown.

"We know there's a window of three weeks, post grand final, when what I call the meat market opens," coach Noeline Taurua said.

That's the time frame in which clubs can jostle for any players who are unsigned for 2018.

The club had been able to speak to its own players, who were unsigned for next year, during the past seven weeks but opted not to hold in-depth discussions until after the season was finished.

"We decided as a team to get though the grand final and just put all the energy (into that)," Taurua said immediately after the match.

"I think it was really important for the players, leading into the grand final ,that we concentrated on that and then people can go away and discuss matters with whoever they need to.

"I don't think we needed to push them into making a decision. We'd all committed to winning the competition and those (other) matters will come up in due course."

South Africa's Karla Mostert was the most valuable player of the grand final.

When the 27-year-old goal defence was asked post-match if she was signed for next year, Taurua replied by saying "we're working on that".

Lightning CEO Danielle Smith said the club will focus on player signings during the next fortnight.

"We commenced discussions with our uncontracted athletes prior to the end of the season, however we wanted to ensure that our athletes could fully focus on their court performance during our finals campaign."

"As a result, we put a hold on finalising discussions until after the grand final. Now that our athletes have enjoyed time to celebrate their momentous premiership victory, we will focus on finalising negotiations in the next week or two."

Clubs will be required to finalise their rosters by mid-July with the season to start in April.

This year's edition started in mid-February but organisers want to wait for the Commonwealth Games to finish before getting things under way next year.

Each of the eight clubs will have up to $500,000 in total player payments.

At the completion of the official contract signing period, clubs will also have the ability to sign training partners.

The Firebirds has already announced its squad for next year, swooping on rising young star Tara Hinchliffe. The state under-19 captain is a talented defender.

Topics:  sunshine coast lightning super netball


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