It could take Lightning more than a month to find rhythm
NETBALL: Sunshine Coast coach Noeline Taurua admits it could take more than a month for the reigning champions to find their rhythm, following their disrupted lead-up to the Super Netball season.
The Lightning have been training without four star players, who were on representative duties with national teams.
Defenders Geva Mentor and Karla Pretorius and attackers Caitlin Bassett and Stephanie Wood this week re-joined the squad after the Commonwealth Games and lead-up camps.
Taurua expects the Lightning will spend at least the first four rounds getting players established in positions and forming connections between them.
"We will need that time to be able to jell our team and slowly progress from game to game," she said.
"I think we did that quite well (last year) and by the end of the season we were hitting top notch but we still need time to transition everybody in (this year), plus also give players opportunities."
The coach is uncertain what combinations will work best.
"We don't really know what the chemistry is like out there, especially with our defence end," Taurua said.
The likes of Madeline McAuliffe and Erena Mikaere should be granted court time during the early rounds, to press their claims for the wing defence spot vacated by star player Laura Langman.
And given the team's relative lack of cohesion early in the season, Taurua said they would need to be smart in attack.
"We may not look pretty at times. The whole thing will be to ... make sure we do score when we have ball in hand, to counteract the time we need to set our foundation as a team."
Regardless of their interrupted preparation, the coach believed her side still had a "solid base" to be competitive.
After all, the Lightning won last year's national league title and nine of the 10 players from that squad remain.
They will be tested by the Giants in a grand final replay at Qudos Bank Arena on Sunday.
The Sydney-based side's captain Kim Green has already said members of her side want some redemption. But Taurua said she didn't really mind who their opponents were in the opening round.
"It's a fantastic start for the league, that you've got the two teams that played in the grand final...but I don't really care who it is (against). I'm just looking forward to getting (the players) out on court," she said.