Firebirds learn from opening round loss
GOAL attack Gretel Tippett is looking forward to seeing a familiar face courtside today when her Firebirds host the Magpies.
Making her debut on Channel 9's Super Netball coverage will be former teammate and netball great Laura Geitz.
"It's going to be weird seeing 'G' on the sideline," Tippett, known as "Aunty Grets" to Geitz's little boy Barney, told News Regional.
"It's going to be hard not running over there and giving her a big hug ... (but) yeah, got to be professional."
A three-time domestic title winner with the Firebirds and two-time world champion with the Diamonds, Geitz retired last year.
As she begins her media career, the 31-year-old is pregnant with her second child.
It will be a doubly special occasion for the Firebirds today with the team playing their first official match at the $44 million Queensland State Netball Centre at Mount Gravatt. The game starts at 3pm.
"That will be awesome to be a part of it ... on the other side of the sidelines," Geitz said.
"The commentary is a great way to stay involved in the game, but just from a different angle."
For the current crop of Firebirds, the new stadium has been a blessing.
Previously, they were forced to venture all over Brisbane for training sessions, gym work, and visits to the physio and doctors.
"It cuts out so much travel time," Tippett said.
"We can get so much more done and be so much more productive. It's been unreal.
"I think we're still pinching ourselves that it's for us."
In front of 5000 fans, the icing on the celebratory cake would be a win over the Magpies, who arrive after upstaging reigning premiers the Lightning.
The Firebirds suffered a first-round loss to the Vixens (73-61) after leading 19-15 at quarter-time.
"I think we gained a lot of confidence from the first half particularly," Tippett said.
"If we could keep playing like we did in that first quarter for the rest of the three that would be ideal."
Fledgling Firebirds goal defence Kim Jenner, 21, and goal keeper Tara Hinchliffe, 20, will again be in the spotlight against Magpies pair Shimona Nelson and Nat Medhurst.
Geitz said of her prodigies: "It was pretty brutal first round for them, but you're biggest learning lessons are from your losses, not your wins.
"Tara and Kim had never played a full game together in the SSN (Super Netball) ... it's about building for them.
"That defensive combination, they are going to be unreal, a formidable force, they just need time together, game experience."
Tippett said she and attacking partner Romelda Aiken had been working hard with the two defenders.
"I think they've shown really promising signs. During training they make it super tough for us," she said.
"That's probably the thing I'm most excited about, seeing them progress throughout the year.
"Kim and Tara have played together in under-17 and under-19 Queensland teams so they've already got that connection."
The Magpies will be without co-captain Madi Browne (ACL).