Flyers welcome premier challenge in new format

The 2017 Ipswich Flyers netball team.
The 2017 Ipswich Flyers netball team.

FROM making another grand final last season to an exciting new state-wide challenge.

The Ipswich Flyers netball team is embracing what awaits them in the Queensland Premier League SE Queensland Cup competition starting on Thursday night.

The Flyers and new regional team Goodna Sapphires are among the 16 associations represented in the SE Queensland zone.

After each team plays each other once and contests a final series, the SE Qld champions will play in a carnival against winners from three other regions around the state.

Experienced Ipswich Flyers player Emilie McInally conceded the new format provided a lot of unknowns at the State Netball Centre.

"I've been in the team for the last 10 years and I can't ever remember playing Redcliffe,'' she said.

However, McInally said that increased the competitive challenge for each side.

"You normally get to play against everybody twice so it sort of gives you the chance to size a team up the first time you play them,'' she said.

"If you don't quite come off so well, then you get a second shot at them. But this year we only play everybody once.

"We'll probably be having to pay a lot more attention to outcomes and all of the games every week and make some assumptions due to what other teams score.

"You are under a bit more pressure from the get-go and have a really good start to the season.''

Loyal Ipswich player McInally welcomed the new concept. "Change is sometimes good and it shakes the competition up,'' she said.

Preparing to play Downey Park at 6.30pm on Thursday night, the Flyers have retained a core of the side that finished runners-up to Western Districts in last year's SEQ Challenge Division 1 grand final.

Returning with McInally are Erin Ellis, Tahlia Vandenberg, Tayla Rosin, Tara Bramwell and Bridget Cumming.

McInally, 30, is the oldest member of the Flyers team that has enjoyed considerable success over the past 10 years.

The Flyers have lost last year's co-captain Liz Hales (moved to Gold Coast), Larissa Hughes, Melissa Beutel and Nicole Grant (work commitments).

However, former Ipswich juniors Rachael Sarra and Kirsty Brennan bolster the Flyers' depth.

Sarra is returning to netball from basketball with Brennan having been heavily involved in horse riding.

The team also has training partners, Emily O'Connor and Rayna Verrenkamp, able to play if one of the regular 10 representatives is unavailable.

The Flyers team coached by Tricia McInally spent more than a month on fitness work leading up a full game at Monday night training to complete their preparations.

Kerry Moore returns as manager with Kylie Weller helping out.

The revitalised Goodna team opens the new season against QCCNA on Thursday night.

The Flyers and Sapphires are also playing in an Ipswich-hosted representative carnival at the Doris Howes courts on Sunday.

More than 120 teams have registered to play, starting with first round games at 8.30am.

The 2017 Ipswich Flyers team: Tara Bramwell, Tahlia Vandenberg, Tayla Rosin, Erin Ellis, Bridget Cumming, Ella Taylor, Rachael Sarra, Kirsty Brennan, Darcie Smith, Emilie McInally. Training partners: Emily O'Connor, Rayna Verrenkamp. Coach: Tricia McInally. Assistant coach: Kylie Weller. Manager: Kerry Moore.

Game day

Queensland Premier League SE Queensland Cup at State Netball Centre on Thursday night: 6.30pm - Ipswich Flyers v Downey Park.

9.30pm - Goodna Sapphires v Qld Catholic Netball Association.

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