SUNSHINE COAST, AUSTRALIA - JULY 14: Maddy McAuliffe of the Lightning looks to pass during the round 11 Super Netball match between the Lightning and the Magpies at University of the Sunshine Coast on July 14, 2018 in Sunshine Coast, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)
SUNSHINE COAST, AUSTRALIA - JULY 14: Maddy McAuliffe of the Lightning looks to pass during the round 11 Super Netball match between the Lightning and the Magpies at University of the Sunshine Coast on July 14, 2018 in Sunshine Coast, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images) Bradley Kanaris

Lightning keen to put skills to test in pre-season clashes

NETBALL: Sunshine Coast Lightning's Maddy McAuliffe expects two-time wooden spooners Adelaide Thunderbirds to be a stronger attacking outfit this year and is looking forward to battling them in another pre-season clash.

The Lightning will travel to Sydney on Thursday for their final tests against Super Netball squads and, in the space of 48 hours, will not only take on the Thunderbirds but Giants as well.

McAuliffe said it was yet another chance for the Lightning to fine-tune skills and strategies just a month out from round one of Super Netball.

"I think there will be some tough games and maybe a few sore bodies when we get back but we need that practice before the season starts,” McAuliffe said.

"On court and off court there have been some really nice connections happening. On court we're definitely starting to see that flow and we saw that with Swifts in the past week and I think that's just going to grow as we continue.”

She expected some hotly contested passages of play during the matches, with Thunderbirds set to be a force in attack due to Maria Folau's likely presence.

"We didn't get to play them with Maria in the pre-season tournament,” she said.

"I'm excited to see how that dynamic works on court because that should have quite a big impact on their attacking end.”

She expected the cellar dwellers to provide stiff competition this season.

"The Thunderbirds have always had the personnel to have a big impact on the competition and I think Maria will definitely have a massive impact on that attack end,” she said.

"I think for them possession and ability to score has always been something where they've thrown away a few balls and things like that.

"Their defensive line has always been strong and that's something we experienced in the pre-season tournament.”

Looking ahead, McAuliffe admitted she was still unsure as to where she'd hit the court in Super Netball this year but relished the challenge wherever it may be.

"I've been training a lot more in centre than I have been in wing attack which is different to previous years but I honestly think we don't know,” she said.

"I think our strength this year will be the ability to interchange that and the versatility that we do have on the bench but at the end of the day you've just got to consistently put out good performances and hopefully you'll end up on court.”

McAuliffe joined Lightning players Jacqui Russell and Laura Langman plus a bevy of fans at USC Stadium yesterday to celebrate the club reaching 2000 members.

"It's great to see our members here today and to hear that we've hit 2000 members is really exciting,” she said.

"Everybody who is involved in netball knows the importance of growing the sport and we're lucky here on the Coast that people are really invested in it and passionate about it so the more people we can get involved the better.”


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