QUEENSLAND Firebirds star Romelda Aiken is under no illusions about the task awaiting the reigning national champions next season now that the players have "targets" on their heads.
Aiken, who was at Nambour yesterday for a netball clinic, said rival teams would be even more eager to knock off the Firebirds in 2012 after the side ended its long championship drought in an undefeated season this year.
But the Jamaican shooting sensation is confident the side will reveal itself to be a "true champion".
"I reckon everyone is coming at the Firebirds. Everyone normally does (when you win the title)," she said.
"Everyone who's won anything, they'll definitely be the targets, but we know what we expect and we're just happy to get out on the court and do the same thing we did last year.
"Yeah, there'll be a lot of pressure. That's when true champions stand."
The Firebirds created trans-Tasman netball league history by becoming the first team to win the competition undefeated.
The side completed a perfect season with a record 57-44 grand final hiding of the Auckland-based Northern Mystics at Brisbane Convention Centre in May.
It was their 15th straight win.
That means the Firebirds will be gunning for win No.16 when they open their 2012 ANZ Championship campaign against Melbourne Vixens on April 1.
Aiken, 22, who is entering her fifth season with the Firebirds, said the players always knew they had the ability to win the championship.
"For some reason it just never came together (in previous seasons)," she said. "This year we pretty much got stuck in and gave it our best every time."
The towering Aiken, who made her debut for Jamaica in 2005, traditionally splits her time between her homeland and Australia.
But after the 2011 world championships, she decided to return to Brisbane for the off-season to spend time promoting the sport.
"I am enjoying getting out and about to local schools and associations to meet all the Firebirds fans," she said.
Aiken is also about to start a hairdressing course.
"I love to do hair," she said.
"I enjoy doing it myself."
She also loves tormenting defenders, and Firebirds fans will be hoping there will be plenty of that in 2012.
Fire in the belly
- The Queensland Firebirds begin their defence of the ANZ Championship against Melbourne Vixens on April 1
- The side created history last season by finishing the season undefeated
- A victory over the Vixens would make it 16 wins in a row
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