FOCUSED: Cara Koenen.
FOCUSED: Cara Koenen. Patrick Woods

Battle heats up for Lightning role

GOAL shooters Cara Koenen and Peace Proscovia are locked in an intense battle for the starting role at the Sunshine Coast Lightning following the off-season departure of Australian star Caitlin Bassett.

Koenen got the nod for their round one loss to Collingwood last weekend bu coach Noeline Taurua said the spot was up for grabs ahead of their grand final rematch against West Coast in Perth on Sunday.

"This week is huge for both players, as it is for everyone, to put their presence out there and earn a starting seven (position)," Taurua said.

"They've got to earn it ... they've got to be able to back themselves."

Koenen has been part of the Lightning camp since the Sunshine Coast outfit entered the national competition in 2017 while Ugandan international Proscovia was signed in the off-season after starring role in the England competition.

It was largely assumed the 29-year-old would start the campaign in as goal shooter but Koenen was preferred first up.

"It (the decision) wasn't taken lightly," Taurua said.

"Obviously with Peace being an import and with international experience, there was the expectation even from us that she would take the starting seven but Cara earnt the right (via her pre-season efforts)."

Cara Koenen battles former teammate Geva Mentor in the opening round.
Cara Koenen battles former teammate Geva Mentor in the opening round.

Koenen made the most of her opportunity, the 23-year-old nabbed 18 goals from 21 attempts against the Magpies before being replaced by Proscovia (10 from 11) in the third quarter.

"I thought she (Koenen) actually did well," Taurua said.

"I thought she provided mobility in that shooting end.

"Her statistics were very high so that's a good thing but (she) probably wasn't able to consistently hold that performance going into that third quarter.

"However, I also feel those players in and around her didn't probably do their own jobs, so it impacted her to some degree and the pressure just rolled on to her as well. That's a learning thing for her.

"There were some positives to come out of it for her first start."

Peace Proscovia flies high during her cameo appearance.
Peace Proscovia flies high during her cameo appearance.

Taurua said she was looking forward to seeing whether Koenen could retain the starting spot with her performances at training "or whether Peace comes into her own".

Proscovia had limited time in her maiden appearance in the national league.

"There is also a lot of learnings from Peace's end as well, in regards to angles and her availability into the circle, so we've got a lot of work to do," Taurua said.

"But it's a starting point.

"The pressure (of Super Netball) she's getting used to and also the program as well."

There's plenty of interest surrounding the role, given it was occupied by superstar Bassett, who is now with the Giants.

Meanwhile, Fever's best two players are in doubt for Sunday's grand final rematch against Sunshine Coast, with captain Courtney Bruce (elbow) and goal shooter Jhaniele Fowler (ankle) both facing a race against the clock.

News Corp Australia


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