Firebirds captain Gabi Simpson says the arrival of two South African stars and Queensland’s Origin victory will inspire her side against archrival NSW Swifts this Sunday.


INSPIRED by the State of Origin heroics of the Maroons and bolstered by South African imports, the Firebirds hope to strike another blow for Queensland when they host archrival NSW Swifts on Sunday.

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The injury-hit Firebirds are still winless and last on the Suncorp Super Netball ladder after six rounds, while the Swifts are flying high on top of the table with five wins and just the one loss in 2019 ahead of their trip to the Queensland State Netball Centre.

The Firebirds will have South African duo Lenize Potgieter and Erin Burger at their disposal, with goalshooter Potgieter replacing Tippah Dwan (broken foot) for the rest of the season and midcourter Burger taking the place of Mahalia Cassidy (knee) for the remainder of 2019.

Burger replaced Cassidy at the Firebirds in 2017 when the centre required her first knee reconstruction. Burger and Potgieter will both represent South Africa at the upcoming Netball World Cup.

Shooter Abigail Latu-Meafou will remain with the Firebirds as injury cover for Romelda Aiken, who is still sidelined by a stress fracture in her leg.

Skipper Gabi Simpson played in the thrilling 2015 and 2016 ANZ Championship grand finals between the Firebirds and Swifts, with Queensland’s nailbiting victories stoking the rivalry between the traditional powerhouses.

She said ladder positions go out the window this weekend, especially with a majority of the Firebirds fired-up by Queensland’s upset win over NSW in rugby league’s Origin series opener on Wednesday night.

“As a Blues supporter, watching Queensland constantly beat us is both frustrating but also inspiring because they are often seen as the underdog but they are willing to step up and take their game to another level,’’ Simpson said.

“The fight and spirit that they show and how they play for each other is extremely inspiring.

“Firebirds-Swifts, we go back a long way and the rivalry is just fierce.

“If you go back to those grand finals, they were so close, there were bodies on the line and you wouldn’t expect anything less than that this weekend.

“Even though we are eighth on the ladder, we’ve proven we are going to give it to whoever we come up against. We are in there to get the win.’’

Simpson said Burger and Potgieter bring a ready-made combination and priceless runs on the board at Test level to the Firebirds.

“Erin has been here before and brings such a great wealth of experience at an international level but also something completely different,’’ she said.

“We haven’t seen what Lenize can bring to this competition but the combination of Erin and Lenize is something that’s pretty special at international level.

“It will be exciting to see how we can develop that.’’

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Publish date : 2019-06-07 05:28:34

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