ON COURT: Madeline McAuliffe of the Lightning attempts to stop Caitlyn Nevins of the Firebirds during a Super Netball match between the Queensland Firebirds and Sunshine Coast Lightning last year.
ON COURT: Madeline McAuliffe of the Lightning attempts to stop Caitlyn Nevins of the Firebirds during a Super Netball match between the Queensland Firebirds and Sunshine Coast Lightning last year. Darren England

Firebirds take aim at Lightning ahead of new season

NETBALL: The Queensland Firebirds have fired a warning shot at the Sunshine Coast Lightning, declaring their intent to be the top team in the state.

The Brisbane-based unit had a stranglehold on the sport in the north for years but the Lightning caused a sensation by winning the national premiership in their maiden campaign last year.

Now, the Firebirds are determined to strike back.

"We really want to be the dominant club in Queensland so we want to take on the Lightning this year," wing defence Gabi Simpson said.

"They had a phenomenal season last year but it's a totally clean slate and we're ready for the challenge."

The Firebirds missed out on a play-offs berth in the 2017 Super Netball.

"We're competitive people and we did not like sitting back and watching the finals unfold last year so that's what we're doing now, starting the pre-season, making sure we are in finals this year."

Firebirds players were in what could be considered enemy territory on Friday, when they did a surf drills session with Sunshine Coast surf sports icon Grant Kenny at Mooloolaba.

"We are the Queensland Firebirds and we've come up here (still in Queensland borders) in the past for many of our camps," Simpson said.

"It's amazing to be up here and to get out of our Brisbane bubble."

Fellow Firebirds star Laura Geitz did not play for the side last year, after having a baby boy.

She's eager to hit the court against the Sunshine Coast in 2018.

"Obviously the Lightning had a stand-out season. (As) premiers, everyone will be wanting to hunt them down," she said.

"We've been in that position (before) which is sometimes a bit of a tricky position to be in.

"There will be a rivalry (between the Firebirds and Lightning) but I think there will be respect as well."



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