Koenen to replace Friday for Firebirds

Further injury concerns for the Mission Queensland Firebirds ahead of their State of Origin battle with the NSW Swifts tomorrow night, March 30 at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.

North Queensland shooter Beryl Friday has been ruled out of the all-important Round 5 clash with a niggling back injury.

Young Queensland Fusion shooter, Cara Koenen, has been called into the squad as an injury replacement player for Friday.

Koenen, also from North Queensland, started playing netball when she was 12 on Magnetic Island and has possibly clocked up more hours than any other netballer to achieve her goal of playing at the elite level.

Just last year the 19-year-old, who has come through the Netball Queensland pathways, clocked up over 50 000 kilometers on her quest to be the best, travelling to Townsville via boat every day to train for the Magnetic North Steelcats, then jumping on a plane to Brisbane every weekend to train for the Queensland U/19 team and all while completing year 12.

“It has been a long road but all the travelling and training has definitely paid off,“ Koenen said.

“It is all a but surreal to be honest and the call up has come about very quickly so I’m not sure if it has sunk in properly yet.”

“It is an amazing honour to even be considered for the call up, so to be able to sit on the bench is amazing,” Koenen said.

That long road has paid off when Koenen was named 19/U MVP at the National Netball Championships in 2014 before being part of the history making Fusion team who made the Australian Netball Grand Final for the first time.

Koenen, who now lives on the Gold Coast on campus at Griffith University studying Forensic Science and Criminology and Crime Justice said as a kid she dreamed of playing for the Firebirds.

“As a kid it was a dream but as I got older I started to make state teams and I think the thought of potentially playing in the ANZ Championships one day became closer to a reality,” Koenen said.

But the 189cm tall goal shooter knows she still has a lot of work to do but is looking forward to the experience and making the most of any opportunity given to her even though nerves have set in already.

“I was actually walking to see my sister when I received the phone call so at least I had someone to tell right away,” Koenen said.

“I’m feeling the nerves already and the game is still over 24 hours away.”

The Firebirds will have a different looking line-up when they hit the court tomorrow night already bringing in young 19-year-old Mahalia Cassidy as an injury replacement player for star wing attach Verity Simmons.

Simmons broke her wrist in Round 2 against the Pulse in New Zealand and has been undergoing rehabilitation and is recovering well.