After a disappointing 2019 season, the Firebirds are looking to go back to the form from their 2018 season.
Only winning one game last season was disappointing for the firebirds, but with a few exciting new additions, they could be on the up in 2020.
Resigned: Gabi Simpson, Gretel Bueta (nee Tippet), Romelda Aiken, Tara Hinchcliffe, Kim Jenner, Mahalia Cassidy**, Jemma Mi Mi.
In: Lara Dunkley* (Melbourne Vixens), Ine-Mari Venter (Melbourne Vixens), Rudi Ellis (Victorian Fury), Macy Gardner (Firebirds Training Partner)
Out: Tippah Diwan (Injury), Laura Clemesha (retirement), Caitlyn Nevins (retirement) Lenzie Potgieter (Adelaide Thunderbirds)
*Temporary replacement player
**Still contracted for 2020 even though injured
What happened last season?
They won one game against the Fever late in the season, but had a few close games, including a one-point loss against the eventually premiers In the Swifts.
They also had two draws, the first was against the Magpies early in the season, the second was also in the first half of the season against the Fever.
The challenge for the Firebirds was staying in games. They would get a good lead, but the opposition was always able to chip it back.
For example, in the Round 2 draw against Collingwood, they had a fair lead going into the third quarter, but Collingwood were able to chop down that lead in the third quarter, scoring a whopping 18 goals to 11.
What to look forward to
You can look forward to a lot of X factor from the Firebirds in 2020, with shooting duo Gretel Bueta and Romelda Akien always putting on a show in the goal circle.
Adding a new goaler into the mix in Ine-Marie Venter, it’s going to be interesting to see how the combinations work and bounce off each other.
“I think it'll be really exciting having them," Firebirds defender Tara Hinchcliffe says.
"I guess we've got a new go-person in each position. It's really, really exciting to have Ine-Marie in the shooting circle having done so well, as well as having Gretel and Romelda. You can sort of base the whole game off those two, so very exciting to have another shooter.
"They're just adding to that mix.”
The other thing you can look forward to from the Firebirds is watching up-and-coming talent growing before your eyes, with new Firebirds in Rudi Ellis, Macey Gardner and Lara Dunkley, as well as young guns Hinchliffe and Kim Jenner.
“I think we're a whole lot fitter this year than we were last year," she continued.
"So that just means that we can play a full 60-minute game, super-fast. Lots of aerial ability - we've obviously got Kimmy J (Kim Jenner) who can jump in the circle and we've got Grets (Gretel Bueta) on the other end, so I think just that pace and ball speed to the court will make the difference.
"But we'll also bring a lot more variety and unpredictability.”
Everyone’s got that belief and confidence: Hinchliffe
“I think we can only go up really from last season, hopefully, so I think there's that confidence even though we didn't have the best season ever.
"Every week we believed that we were going to win the next game and that it wasn't that far, but I think there's confidence in knowing that we didn't fall apart in the season, in fact we got better and better.
"We finished off on a really good note so everyone's got that confidence and belief, to go into this year."
Three Influential players
Gretel Bueta: If we're talking about influential players in the competition, Bueta is number one.
She has changed the goal attack position with her athleticism and her shooting ability. She is extremely hard to stop, using her basketball background to the shooting circle with her layup style shooting.
Gabi Simpson: Gabi is one of the best wing defences in the competition, but her leadership is outstanding and she always taking the positives out of games, really leading from the front in a young defensive line up.
Romelda Aiken: Aiken has formed an incredibly deadly combination with Gretel Bueta and is always leaving the opposition's defence guessing.
She is just as dangerous in the goal third as she is in front of circle, with her feeds into Bueta truly outstanding.
One’s to watch
There a few new Firebirds that are going to be exciting new additions.
First, after making the move up North, after her first season in Super Netball down in Melbourne, we definitely haven’t seen the best of Lara Dunkley yet. This could be her break out season.
She is a superstar in the making and after not getting enough court time at the Vixens, due to their star studded midcourt, she could potentially help fill the void that was left by Caitlin Nevins.
Another one is a young defender in Rudi Ellis, after making her way up to the Firebirds after competing in the VNL with the Vixen’s feeder team in the Victorian Fury, she has the makings of a future superstar.
Hinchliffe agreed: “I'm excited to play with Rudi. She's young and she's new and she hasn't played SSN which is good because it means that no one knows what to expect from her.