Former Queensland Firebird Hulita Haukinima will make her return to competitive netball when Brisbane South Wildcats take on Brisbane West at Logan Metro Indoor Centre tonight.
The state underage star took time out of the game after becoming a mother for the first time earlier this year and will add steel to an already imposing Wildcats defence.
The high-flying Lions will be without their Queensland Fusion players tonight as they prepare for Australian Netball League finals in Perth this weekend.
Wildcats coach Camille Rieck said she was excited to welcome Haukinima back and her side would take nothing for granted against a depleted Lions side.
“This is a must win game for us. We respect the fact the Fusion girls are missing, but there is a lot of experience through that Lions group,” Rieck said.
“It’s a home round and it’s the perfect time to welcome Hulita back to the court. She’ll assist the girls with the experience and exposure she’s gained over the past few years.
“We’ve been really competitive over the last three games. The learning for the girls last week was the third quarter. We let the game slip through our grip from four up against the Cougars. It’s about the mental preparedness and maturity as opposed to physical ability. We’ve been focusing on keeping it simple and focusing on role responsibility and accountability on and off the court.”
The Wildcats boast the second best defensive record in division one this year, but also have the worst attack with only 108 goals scored over the opening three rounds.
The Lions have impressed with two wins over the same period and attacker Lucinda Benjamin said her side’s togetherness off court was translating to the scoreboard.
“We have such a cohesive unit. We all want to be at training and our new coach Chris Voge has been amazing in creating that culture. She really fosters that togetherness and positive atmosphere,” Benjamin said.
“Everyone have worked their butts off – in the gym, on the court, in conditioning – they’re giving 110 per cent and it’s so great to see them all so committed to the season.
“We’ve got a lot of depth in our line-up and I think the girls will hold their own and come out firing without the Fusion contingent tonight. Our region is really strong and we’ll be pulling up some division two players who have experience to get the job done.”
Round 4, 4 April 2017, Logan Metro Indoor Centre, Logan
6.30pm: Cougars v Lynx
6.30pm: Wildcats v Lions
6.30pm: Tigers v Jaguars
Round 5, 4 April 2017, Logan Metro Indoor Centre, Logan
8pm: Cougars v Jaguars
8pm: Wildcats v Panthers
8pm: Lynx v Tigers