Centre Josh Biasa
Centre Josh Biasa Chris Ison

Claws out to help NQ men's squad

THE North Queensland men's netball team wound up their weekend training session at Rockhampton with coach Julia Larkin happy with the progress being made by her squad.

"We had a few key players away sick," she said, "but we had good numbers there."

Over the weekend the coach was working on combinations and an area of the game where she felt the team did really well was in the defensive circle.

The North Queensland team is set to play in the Reserve grade of the National Championships and Larkin has only had a short time to prepare her squad.

"We had trials in November," she said, "training began in December."

With the players coming from Cairns, Townsville, Mackay and Rockhampton the training sessions are held monthly, making it a difficult job to get the message home.

Rockhampton has four players Mark Grant, David Gela, Kyle Moffat and Travis Broom represented in the North Queensland squad.

Larkin, who is based in Townsville, said it is also about getting players to adapt to the rules of the game and calls of the umpires.

"Most have come from indoor netball and we have to adapt to the outdoor game," she said, "but the boys are coming along really well."

Coaching a men's team is an exciting challenge for Larkin who would like to see more male players involved in the sport.

"I would like to see more men in the outdoor competition," she said.

With more players involved it would provide the representative team with a greater variety of opponents to assist their title preparation.

On Saturday at Rockhampton Grammar School the team played a "scratch" side of male players before facing the Capricorn Claws yesterday at The Cathedral College.

The coach said in both sessions the team went well.

"I'm extremely proud of the boys," she said, "I was really happy with our game play."

The game against the Claws was beneficial for both teams and for Larkin it was not so much about winning 49-20 but the performance of her shooters who managed a success rate of over 80%.

Despite the loss Claws coach Barbara Ahmat was also happy with the match against the boys.

"It was just what we needed," she said, "it shows their (men's team) ability as they pretty much trounced us.

"We found their defence strong as it was very tough to get a ball through (to feed the shooters).

As expected, Ahmat said her players had difficulty in combating the men's height, elevation and reach.

"I can't fault my girls as they had to adapt their game," she said.

The Claws best performance came in the second quarter when Kira-Lee Leo and Amanda Goody combined well in the shooting circle for the Claws.

Defensively Keanna Hopkins also stood out.

"She did an amazing job against one of their top players," Ahmat added.

Ahmat said she has invited the Rockhampton based male players to train with the Claws as a part of their build-up to the National Championships.

The Claws get another chance to play the North Queensland men when the teams meet at Mackay on February 25-26 as a part of a quadrangular tournament when they will also play games against Whitsunday and Magnetic North.

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