Sovereigns coach Joh Curran is excited by the prospect of mixing the club’s national recruits with some of its most promising young talent in next year’s Victorian Netball League season.
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Sacha McDonald and Ashley Ryan were standout performers throughout the Sovereigns 2016 VNL 19/under campaign. The pair were acknowledged in the VNL team of the year and further rewarded with selection in this year’s Sovereigns championship side.
The additions will make for a new-look championship side as the exciting duo take to the court alongside former Australian Diamonds Demelza Fellowes and Renae Ingles. While the club has also retained the likes of Casey Adamson and Alice Coakley.
Young gun Ally O’Connor will train alongside the championship side as a training partner and play in the division one team.
"Watching them over this year and seeing them develop in the 19/under competition - they've been standouts,” Curran said.
“We’ve rewarded them for the fact they were named in the 19/under team of the year for VNL and we want to try and reward that local talent. So giving them an opportunity to step up and be a part of the senior group, we'll see what they're made of and it's really important that they get their chance.
"There's a really good mix of exciting youngsters, the whole point of Ballarat is to provide that pathway through and we've got some 19/under's who have been elevated...those three girls to be given the opportunity is great.
"I think it was really important for us to make some changes based on wanting to grow Sovereigns and that success. We have put a lot of time and effort into what we think will be successful.”
Curran said the club felt it lacked on-court leadership last season and while it will again be a youthful side, the experienced recruits will help immensely.
Curran said there was a great feel around the group and the weekend’s preseason camp was a good opportunity to not only develop the girls’ fitness, but also a chance to bond with new teammates and "build the culture".
"It will enable us to have more leadership out on court, which is really important in the development of those younger players. Having their leadership and their awareness of what it takes to be successful will be a really important part.
"That's what we identified from this year, we need some more people who are prepared to step up and take that on – just having that talent and experience will help us moving forward.
"I think we have a great opportunity to make Sovereigns a really strong club within the VNL...I think we've started off the year on a really positive note - there's a good vibe among all the groups.”
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