FINE PLAYER: Ipswich Flyers defender Tahlia Vandenberg.
FINE PLAYER: Ipswich Flyers defender Tahlia Vandenberg. David Nielsen

Vandenberg proves a 'rock' at a higher level of the game

IPSWICH Flyers defender Tahlia Vandenberg has been her team's rock at the back for "at least five years".

So it was about time Vandenberg got the chance to demonstrate her skill and resolve at a higher level.

When one of the Brisbane Lions Tier 2 (State Netball League) players was called into the Australia Schoolgirls team a fortnight ago Vandenberg got the call to replace her.

The Flyers had training games against the Lions not long before and Vandenberg had impressed.

It would come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Vandenberg and the work she has done inspiring Ipswich to consecutive Mount Franklin Challenge (Tier 3) titles in the past two seasons.

Vandenberg slotted in seamlessly, helping the Lions to a 61-27 win over Wide Bay and backed up in a 60-27 win over Darling Downs the next day.

"It was a really good experience to play at a higher level and be able to adjust my game to be able to work with different players," the Mt Marrow-based Vandenberg said.

"The girls were all welcoming and supportive on and off the court."

While it was a good taste of a higher level, which Vandenberg proved she could handle, she has not intention of leaving the Flyers any time soon.

Ipswich is third in this season's Mount Franklin Challenge. They face seventh-placed Logan City tonight.

"I enjoy playing for the Flyers at the Mt Franklin level and have no plans to play for a higher level permanently at this point," she said.

That does not mean she won't fill in again at some stage.

"We have had a few teams request the Flyers to fill in this season so there may be another opportunity," the 24-year-old said.

Until then Vandenberg, an administration/logistics co-ordinator is focussed on helping the Ipswich Flyers to a third straight title.

"We are in a good position sitting third going into round 2," she said.

"We started off the season confident with four straight wins and we have worked on taking positives from our losses this season.

"We have had the opportunity to mix combinations up due to players being absent or out with injuries, which has strengthened the team giving everyone a chance to step up on court."

Vandenberg is not the only Flyers defender to prove she can make the transition to a higher level this season.

Her defensive teammate for Ipswich in the past few seasons, Lauren Nieuwenburg is this season playing for the Logan Wildcats.



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