The GWS Giants started their 2021 Suncorp Super Netball season with an impressive victory – and their Novocastrian trump card Sam Poolman is calling on her team mates to maintain that momentum.
Despite losing star shooter Kiera Austin to injury, which soured the outcome, the outfit upstaged the Adelaide Thunderbirds 66-52 at Netball SA Stadium.
The setback, however, opened the door for substitute Sophie Dwyer to shine on the big stage, nailing 26 goals, including for Super Shots.
Now, Poolman wants to see the Giants back up that effort against the Collingwood Magpies at Ken Rosewall Arena on Saturday 8 May.
“We were excited to secure the win,” the 2021 City of Newcastle Young Citizen of the Year said.
“But, we also know there are still things to work on – like how do we get better, how do we improve?
“So, that’s a good sign.
“Everyone’s looking forward to playing at Ken Rosewall Arena this weekend.
“It’s been 623 days since our last [home] game in Sydney.
“We spent 2020 in a hub.
“So, we’re all thrilled to contest a normal ‘home and away’ season in 2021.
“Last year was a good learning curve for the squad.
“We lost a few matches by a goal or two.
“If you turn that around, it’s a different ball game and you’re in the finals.
“We need to work on those crucial moments and be more consistent.
“We’ve got to turn those close matches into victories.
“However, Saturday’s result was a good start.”
Rising star Austin landed awkwardly while attempting to receive a centre pass during the second quarter.
And, she was helped off the court before finishing the encounter watching on with her right knee in a brace.
“We’re pretty devastated for Kiera,” Poolman said.
“It looks as though she’ll be out for quite a long time.
“It’s a blow for the team but also her personally.
“She’d been in career-best form, having had a really good international series behind her.
“It’s very disappointing.
“For Sophie, it presents an opportunity for her.
“She’s performed well in the pre-season, so she’ll slip in nicely.
“Plus, we have confidence in the rest of our team to get the job done.”
Apart from the Giants, Poolman’s big love is the ASPIRE program.
She developed the initiative to help further develop and assist athletes to reach their goals.
“It’s my passion project,” the national representative stated.
“I was a regional pathway athlete myself – and did the commute from Newcastle to Sydney five-to-six days a week.
“I wanted to lend a hand to other aspiring youngsters from my home region, as well as make sure they had a chance in the area, rather than travel further afield or miss out altogether.
“The more elite athletes we have, the better.
“It’s something I’m extremely proud of – and I’ve received excellent support from everyone over the past few years.”