NETBALL: The prospect of success has nerves tingling in the Capricorn Claws camp ahead of their first fixtures in the 2013 Mission Queensland State Netball League.
After an intense preseason, the Claws will start their campaign with a double header in Brisbane against quality sides Brisbane West Lions and Carina Leagues Club Tigers, on the back of a bye in last weekend's opening round.
Coach Barbara Ahmat said the side would be fighting fit. "The girls are excited after months of training to show what they are capable of, and they are nervous as we know we have two important games coming up," she said.
"There is some pressure, I know because I am feeling it myself, because we've had the best preparation we have ever had and we knew how capable we were before, and I guess we are about to find out how much more we are capable of."
Ahmat selected her most experienced team to play in Brisbane as it was vital to start strongly against these two teams.
"For the last couple of seasons we have played the top two teams in the competition, North Brisbane Cougars and Suncoast Lynx first up," she said. "While you want to win, you can afford to lose these games but when you are up against these two mid-range teams, wins would be ideal and help us later. It would set the tone of the season."
In 2012, the Claws finished eighth out of 12 teams while the Lions and Tigers both finished in the top six. Ahmat said her team was anticipating two close games from strong sides.
It would be crucial to have accurate goal shooting from Kira-lee Leo (goal shoot), and goal attacks Tia Konui and Kate Lang.
"It comes down to accuracy with these games...we will also be taking a new player, Emma Walsh, who is one of these wonderfully freakish players who can play at either end of the court - goal defence-goal keep or goal attack-goal shoot."
Each team will play the other once in the competition, and the top six teams then play off in a finals series.
Elimination finals will be played in the first week of that round for all teams barring the top two, Ahmat said. "With this format it is important to start the season well...we would prefer to be sitting in third, fourth or fifth ahead of the finals, otherwise we have to play the third-placed team," she said.
The Claws remained the only country side to make a grand final back in 2010 against North Brisbane Cougars, who won.
North Brisbane was unbeaten in the five years the competition used this format and was the obvious team to be wary of but this competition was very close, Ahmat said.
Shooters: Kira-lee Leo, Tia Konui, Kate Lang; Mid court: Lizzy Egerton, Carmen Anderson, Tracy Upton, Shanita Smith; Defence: Keanna Hopkins (c), Bec Thompson, Emma Walsh.
2013 Mission Queensland State League, Week Two Draw. March 9, Capricorn Claws v Brisbane West Lions, 5.30pm, State Netball Centre; March 10, Capricorn Claws v Carina Leagues Club Tigers, 10.30am, Beenleigh Arena.