Super Netball: Sam Poolman takes Giant leap into the unknown

SHINING LIGHT: Newcastle’s only Super Netball representative, Sam Poolman, at National Park netball courts on Tuesday afternoon. Picture: Michael ParrisNewcastle netballer Sam Poolman will step into the unknown in February when her fledgling Giants side take on Sydney rivals the Swifts in the first round of the new Super Netball competition.

The 25-year-old defender will be the only Hunter player inAustralia’s new domestic league, and she is unsure what to expect of the eight franchises who make up the competition.

The five Australian teams from the defunct trans-Tasman league, the Adelaide Thunderbirds, Melbourne Vixens, NSW Swifts, Queensland Firebirds and West Coast Fever, will join new sides the GWS-backed Giants, Collingwood Magpies and Melbourne Storm-linked Sunshine Coast Lightning in the competition.

“Our main goal is to make the grand final, and we will work hard to make that happen, but I guess, in terms of the league, it’s a new league,” Poolman said on Tuesday during a visit to her old stomping ground at National Park.

“Obviously in the off-season, with those three new teams, there was a lot of player movement. Now the teams that were stronger in the past, it’s all unknown now.

“You could take a bit of a guess on paper, but in terms of people clicking, combinations, and doing everything right and winning a netball game, it’s a little bit different, so that’s exciting.”

Collingwood have been among the most high-profile recruiters, signing Australian Diamonds representatives April Brandley,Ash Brazill,Sharni Layton,Kim Ravaillion,Madison RobinsonandCaitlin Thwaites.

The Giants have secured former Swiftscoach Julie Fitzgerald, Swifts stalwarts Kimberlee Green andSusan Pettittand English internationals Jo Harten and Serena Guthrie.

“There’s a lot of talk and a lot of media about Collingwood and their recruiting, but at the end of the day it’s proven in sport that you have a great team on paper, how you gel and your culture is completely different,” Poolman said.

“The Sunshine Coast look strong, and the Firebirds have been strong for the past few years and a lot of their players are the same.”

Poolman, who has played the past four years forAdelaide, joined the Giants to be closer to her family and her boyfriend, Jets goalkeeper Ben Kennedy. She has spent theoff-season in Newcastle andhas started commuting to trainingfive days a weekbut will move to Sydney this month.

“I don’t think it hit me until last week when I went to Sydney and turned up to training. I think it all sunk in that I wasn’t going away any more, and this was my home and this was who I was playing for,” she said.

“We’ve hit the ground running. It’s a new club, so we’re building that culture. Everything’s new.”

The Giants and Swifts, who are both owned by Netball NSW, launch the 14-round season on February 18 at Sydney Olympic Park Sports Centre then play the first of two double-headers a week later at the 20,000-seat Sydney Super Dome.

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