ON COURT: Jacqui Russell and Willow Perkins, 6, at a Lightning clinic at Caloundra.
ON COURT: Jacqui Russell and Willow Perkins, 6, at a Lightning clinic at Caloundra. Patrick Woods

Intensity lifts at Lightning as players jostle for spots

NETBALL: Sunshine Coast midcourter Jacqui Russell says the intensity has gone up a notch at training, as players jostle for starting spots in the lead-up to their season opener against Collingwood.

The Lightning will meet the Magpies at Melbourne on April 27, after a lengthy preparation.

But with a relatively new-look squad, it's unclear how the reigning premiers will line up for the clash.

Russell said the 10-member outfit was training in earnest for seven starting spots.

The 30-year-old has noticed a increase in on-court energy.

"It can be uneasy if you're in a position not knowing if you're going to start or not but it creates a really good environment at training,” she said at a clinic at Caloundra on Tuesday.

"Everyone is always fighting for that position. It lifts the intensity even more. Training's been really physical and challenging lately.”

She said while they were jostling for spots, they were also supportive of one another.

"It creates a competitive environment but at the same time I think we're all happy for each other to get out there and give it a crack.”

While the pursuit for round one berths was on in earnest, Russell expected all squad members to see game time during the Super Netball campaign.

"We have a really strong team of 10 and I think there is certainly an opportunity for everyone to get out on court at different times and we all have faith in each other.”

Russell was a member of the Queensland Firebirds in 2010-2011 but then spent years in the relative wilderness of the Australian second tier.

Persistence paid off and she received a national league lifeline at the Lightning last year, when she was called into the squad as an injury replacement for Sarahpheinna Woulf.

Sunshine Coast Lightning hosted an afternoon of school holiday clinics at Caloundra Indoor Stadium on Tuesday.

The clinics were designed to inspire the next generation of budding netballers on the Sunshine Coast, with a skills session run by Lightning athletes.



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