The Melbourne Vixens will finally get the chance to reunite with their Melbourne members and fans this weekend as they return to John Cain Arena on Saturday.
Given the unpredictable continuation of the Super Netball season, six teams are now ironically housed in Melbourne due to current border restrictions, and a display of netball in the city after a long seven weeks hiatus will be the boost Victorians have been patiently waiting for.
With the squad of 11 and support staff returning home from the Sunshine Coast earlier this week, Vixens defender Kate Eddy said it was a welcomed relief amongst the team to be back alongside their family and friends.
“Our preparations for this weekend have been a bit of a rollercoaster. It started in the Sunny Coast, and we had a few weeks up there with the bye, and now finally back at home which is really exciting. We love being able to train at the State Netball Centre again and be back at the VIS,” Eddy said.
“I think everyone is pretty stoked to be back home with their families. We are on limited restrictions, so we do have to be very cautious with what we do.
“We have to be pretty smart and stay safe so we can’t just go wherever we want and catch up with friends, which is pretty hard because we’ve been away.
“But there are always ways that we can go see people, go for a walk outside – so it is really good to be back home.
“We’re just excited to finish off the second half of the year really well, so training hard and looking forward to the weekend.
Claiming only one win thus far, the Vixens camp is adamant they can transform their deflation into determination on Saturday. The mindset of the players has changed, with the team no longer looking back, choosing to focus only on what is ahead of them and the improvements they can strive for.
“For the rest of the season we want to just concentrate on our game and putting our best foot forward and being happy with what we are doing on court and our performance because I think that has lacked for the first half of the season.
“We want to be proud of what we do go out with and put on court, so that’s contesting, letting the ball go and just having some fun out there because that’s why we all play netball at the end of the day.”
The Vixens have gained a spark of joy coming off the bye and postponed round, with now veteran defender, Emily Mannix returning to the line-up following her recovery from the fractured knuckle she sustained in round 4.
“Em has had a tough trot; she thought that she was coming back, and then had a little bit of a disappointment in not being able to play that Magpies game.
“She’s been working super hard, doing extra running sessions out on court – she’s looking fit and fierce, and I can’t wait to see her out on court on Saturday.”
With an extended period on the sidelines, Emily Mannix is raring to go and hoping her injection can make a difference against a strong Lightning side.
“I’m super stoked to get back out on court with the girls and hopefully get a win against the Lightning on Saturday,” Mannix said.
“We’re not making any excuses for how we’ve been performing.
“The sad thing for us is we know we’re capable of doing better and that’s sort of the heartbreaking thing that we haven’t been able to put it out there in matches, and we know it’s there and we know we can beat some of those teams.
“So, I think for us, it’s just about believing that and going out there and executing the game plan. It’s as simple as that really.
As Mannix leads from the front alongside her captain Kate Moloney – the message is clear, go out there, play their team game and hold their heads up high until the end. The notion is mirrored by their devoted fans, who too sense that the Vixens season starts now.
Amongst seeing family in the stand, Eddy believes there really is no crowd better than one filled with Vixens supporters.
“We’ve definitely missed being away from our Vixens family, fans and everyone back here in Melbourne so it’s going to be great to run out and have friends and family in the stadium. It’s going to be super exciting.”
The Vixens will be hosted by Sunshine Coast Lightning in their own home stadium of John Cain Arena on Saturday, 3 July at 3pm. Tickets are open for Vixens members (who can redeem their free ticket using their membership barcode) and the general public and can be purchased here. Viewers from afar can also watch the game live on Channel 9 and the Netball Live app.