“The Excitement is Real”

We finally have a confirmed start date for the Hart Sapphire and Ruby Series. There’s been new people appointed to the competition structure, meetings and draft formats (still in negotiation). The excitement is real. Time for old sticky nose to start hunting through team lists to see who’s who in the zoo.

Even though we are Ruby, I still need to know what is going on at Sapphire level. Player and coach movement in Sapphire can impact us, and has impacted us in the past when it comes to player movement between teams, particularly in the early rounds. I have been around long enough to be familiar with many players, and identify key players for Sapphire teams, and the players that may roll back into Ruby at some point.

It’s an interesting thing looking at players who have moved franchises over the break. I think the main 3 reasons for moving are relationships with coaches and team members, court time and playing opportunities, and for Ruby players on the cusp, the opportunity to crack into a Sapphire squad. I’m sure there are many other factors that come into play, but in my opinion these are the Top 3. I will also add that this mainly applies to the metropolitan franchises; regional franchises also need to factor in relocation for work, study, and opportunities; even possibly burn out from travel commitments.

There has been a fair bit of movement; some of which really surprised me. I can’t speculate without knowing facts; we all know there is always three sides to a story. Coaches moving franchises, sponsors/partners going sideways, it’s all happening! I am looking forward to seeing how it all pans out. With Sapphire moving towards becoming professional, franchises will have to do what they can to recruit well. While part of me feels sad that often local talent is overlooked for an import, it’s the reality of the beast that is professional sport. Let’s hope the Ruby teams can keep the focus on keeping the pathway a possibility for the players coming through their ranks.

Just looking on paper, my opinion on the Sapphire teams in 2020:

Cougars – the experience of Liz White, her knowledge of the game, track record and ability to recruit and retain players is a proven, winning combination.

USC Thunder – a stronger alliance with Lightening, and the addition of all Lightening Training Partners. A disappointing 2019 season, but I believe have the potential to be true contenders.

Tigers – on paper were a force to be reckoned with in 2019, but produced disappointing results. They have picked up a couple of players from other Franchises…..will need to wait and see how it comes together.

Bond – the late addition of Sigi Burger provided some much needed wins, although the late surge was not enough, particularly in the semi-final when they were absolutely run over by Jets. I haven’t seen her announced to return, which would be quite a blow to Bond. Who knows….they might have another surprise import up their sleeves?

Wildcats – the most heavily impacted team coming out of 2019. I believe they have enough core players, who are loyal to their region, to dig deep and overcome some big changes, after winning the Sapphire Premiership in 2019.

Northern Rays – every ounce of my body wants this team to do well. I personally think they would bode well in the Ruby Series, but they could make me eat my words after getting the first season, and baptism of fire out of the way. They do need a couple of key, experienced players to support the young ones to improve results.

Ipswich Jets – 2019 saw the Jets come in 3rd place. A dominant semi-final win, led to a disappointing preliminary final game, where it seemed the pressure got in the way in the second half. They have a good spread of talent and experience across all areas of the court, will be interesting to see if they can gain consistency in 2020.

Looking at all the Ruby squads, there has been a bit of movement, but nothing too significant that I think will impact general positions on the ladder. Tigers are still the benchmark, with a strong line up of experienced players to support their rising stars, and strong, underpinning pathways. It will be interesting to see if the Covid preparation, both physical and mental, of some teams (or lack of) will be a determining factor in results.

As for Panthers, we have been disciplined in our conditioning during Covid, and the girls are very excited and keen to hit the court and start brushing up on those ball skills and footwork. It’s also the social aspect we are keen for, that constant contact (not physical, of course), support and drive to push each other to be better than we were yesterday. There is so much more motivation to do that in person!

I’m signing off to go and do a bit more detective work (sticky beaking really, ha!), start planning our season overview and our session breakdown now we have the green light. I’m feeling reignited now I know it’s all happening. Look out when Bec feels reignited……..the mind starts running and God only knows where it ends up!


It’s Game On!