The Melbourne Vixens will get a taste of home this weekend as they go head-to-head with their cross-town rivals for the first time this season.
While the Vixens have eased back into hub life on the Sunshine Coast, it is the bi-annual clash against the Collingwood Magpies that will see them travel to Sydney for three days to compete at Ken Rosewall Arena on Saturday.
Twenty-year-old, rising Vixens defender Allie Smith highlighted the team is focusing on maintaining as much of a normal routine as possible in the lead up to the game. She expressed how grateful the Vixens are for the amazing facilities they are provided with whilst being away from home.
“Simone has a great schedule in place in order for us to get the adequate amount of training in that we need for the game,” Smith said.
“It came down to us deciding as a whole whether or not we commit and continue to do something that we love which is our career, or we renege and stay home and potentially get stuck in Melbourne.
“We are all thinking of home so much. Obviously, we have all of our family and friends back there who are doing it tough in the current Covid situation. We send so much love back home and hope to be back as soon as we can be.”
“Looking ahead to the Collingwood match there is always going to be that rivalry between the two Melbourne teams. It’s always such a great game, and we are really pumped to hit the ground running.
Head coach Simone McKinnis OAM echoed the sentiments of her dynamic defender turned midcourter, indicating the emotions that come with a Collingwood game are still well and truly there.
“It is a rivalry, and we love playing the game back in Melbourne, but unfortunately that’s not the way it’s going to be, it’ll be in Sydney,” McKinnis said.
“We’re two teams that love it, and we have respect for each team, but both teams desperately want that win.
“I think they’ve been finding some good form over the last couple of weeks, so I mentioned some of the things about the consistency in our game and certainly that strong start and our ability to execute under pressure and consistently – that’s what we’ll need to do to overcome them.
“But also, it’s about going for it, and particularly with defence contesting ball and having a crack.”
Neither the Melbourne Vixens nor the Collingwood Magpies will be granted a home court advantage given the relocation, yet both have already had experience on the new court this year.
After getting a glimpse of hope from the round 5 win, Vixens star shooter, Mwai Kumwenda is excited to step out and put up a strong fight against the Magpies.
“We don’t need to think much about them, we just need to play our own game and be short and sharp - drive quick and shoot,” Kumwenda said.
“We have great depth within our young playing group who are showing up and are working hard, so we have great trust in each other.”
It is undeniable that Collingwood defender Geva Mentor is a fierce competitor with mighty strength, and an opponent whom Kumwenda is aware she needs to prepare for.
“She is one of the best players in the world, so when we are playing against her, we just need to be tough every time,” Kumwenda said.
Yet, the Vixens will be bolstered by key defender Emily Mannix who returns to the line up following two weeks on the sidelines with a broken knuckle.
“Yes, it’s great news for Emily. She had her splint taken off this week and she did full training – no problems at all. She is available and will be playing this weekend,” McKinnis said.
“She’s rooming with Kate Eddy and I know that Kate has told me she’s been prepping her up, throwing everything from strapping tape to clothes and everything in their room, but yes she is all good to go.
The Vixens will battle it out with Collingwood on Saturday, 12 June at Ken Rosewall Arena. The match will be played as a double-header following the GIANTS Netball and Sunshine Coast Lightning match which will begin at 3pm, tickets are available here.
You can catch all the action of the Vixens game on the Netball Live App from 5.30pm. The Netball Live App is free for Telstra customers and a free two-week trial is on offer for everybody else. A quarterly membership (3-months) can be purchased for just $7.49.