Round 1 Preview

2 months ago

Round 1 of the Suncorp Super Netball season has finally arrived with the Melbourne Vixens set to take on the Queensland Firebirds this Sunday at Nissan Arena in Brisbane.

Both sides have new players set to take the court with Kiera Austin and Olivia Lewis joining the Melbourne Vixens over the off-season, and Eboni Usoro-Brown and Donnell Wallam signing with the Firebirds.

Although not a new signing, the return of co-captain Liz Watson after a year on the sidelines with a foot injury is front of mind for Vixens fans, with the star wing attack set to bolster the attacking unit.

“I’m very excited, I feel like it’s been such a long time since I’ve played a proper match for the team. Everyone’s feeling really good, we’ve had a good pre-season and the real work starts now. I can’t wait to get out there and play,” Watson said.

“It is special to be out there playing, mum and dad are going to come up and watch. I feel really good, the foot feels fine which is giving me lots of confidence to go out there and play.”

Watson is looking forward to the challenge against the Firebirds and blowing out some cobwebs in a state that has played host to such great memories.

“We’ve had lots of success in Brisbane which is great, we love Nissan Arena. I’m excited to get away as a team and actually experience travelling and going to another state. It’s Round 1, so we’re really excited to just the play the game. We’ve done so much work this pre-season physically, mentally and I think we’re ready for it.”

The Vixens will have a different Firebirds frontend to combat heading into Round 1 with Wallam receiving the official call-up this week, replacing Jamaican stalwart Romelda George-Aiken.

Expect Jo Weston and Emily Mannix to come out with a strong desire to contest the high ball going into Wallam and aerial maestro Gretel Bueta, to shut down the attacking momentum of the Firebirds.

Coming off a successful Team Girls Cup, with the Vixens securing the title and beating the Firebirds in Game 1, the Vixens are aware of the expectations but know that the season proper is a whole other ball game.

“In Team Girls Cup there’s lots of changes, clubs try new things. It was a tricky environment for some teams so you don’t know where teams are at until the season really starts,” said Watson.

“We do take confidence in our own game and how we’ve been able to build in each one, but the real work starts now in Round 1.”

Entering her tenth season with the club, fellow co-captain Kate Moloney will be in for a tough battle against newly appointed Firebirds captain, Kim Ravaillion. Moloney is renowned for her leadership and gut running and will be aiming to impose her defensive mindset on Ravaillion in the early stages of the game to gain the upper hand.

Signing on for her first season in Suncorp Super Netball, goaler Rahni Samason will have her eyes on the prize after a debut performance she will never forget. Samason sunk the winning super shot after the siren back in Round 5 of the 2021 season against the Firebirds, and now with a full pre-season under her belt will be hoping to replicate that performance.

Heading into the match, the Vixens are eager to put out a strong four quarter performance and showcase their ability to build upon their pre-season outing according to Watson.

“Obviously we want to win and start our season off strong.”

“We are aiming for consistency across a whole match. I think we have shown that we can lapse a bit in that department in Team Girls Cup and even our practice matches back here. I think having four quarters of good netball, and a successful trip away will start the season really well,” she said.

The last time these two sides met was in Round 14 in 2021 with the Firebirds taking out a four-goal win, a result the Vixens will be hoping to reverse this time to kick their season off in style.

Vixens fans can tune in to the match live on Fox Netball or stream it free on Kayo Freebies, from 2pm AEDT.

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