Lightning add defensive duo to 2019 squad
NETBALL: Sunshine Coast Lightning's 2019 squad continues to take shape with the club unveiling Jacqui Russell and Annika Lee-Jones as their latest signings to don the yellow and purple dress.
The Lightning made the announcement at USC Stadium on Thursday and assistant coach Kylee Byrne said she was thrilled to have both players on board for the club's third season.
"To welcome Jacqui back into the Lightning team was an easy decision. Jac first joined as a replacement player just before the 2018 season started and she worked extremely hard, which saw her rewarded with some court time this year.
"She showed us she has the skills, work ethic and behaviours to compete at the highest level in Australia and we are looking forward to a full season with her.”
Byrne said while Russell had traditionally filled a wing defence role for Lightning, her versatility on the court meant she could easily don other bibs moving forward.
"With a full preseason under her belt and the ability to cover all centre court positions, we can't wait to see Jac in action next year.”
Annika Lee-Jones was part of West Coast Fever's squad for the 2017 and 2018 seasons, and the new Lightning recruit will make the move east later this year.
"As an Australian underage-pathway athlete, there are few defenders around that have as much potential as Annika and we are eager to help her develop into a future Australian Diamonds defender,” Byrne said.
"We are just as excited as she is to get started and are looking forward to welcoming her into our Club where we know she will be a perfect fit.”
Lee-Jones said she had jumped at the opportunity to develop her game with the dual premiership-winning team.
"I see it as a chance to learn from a new group of players and coaching staff including Noeline Taurua, who has such an incredible reputation in the netball community,” Lee-Jones said.
"Karla Pretorius is also one of the best defenders in the world in my opinion, so it was definitely a major drawcard to come and play alongside her.
"You don't often get the opportunity to train with one of the world's best so there's a lot that I can learn from her.
"The Sunshine Coast seems quite similar to Perth in that it's nice and relaxed, so I'm sure I'll love the lifestyle there too.”
Lee-Jones debuted at West Coast Fever in 2017 and has played four national league games. Standing at 197cm tall, her primary positions are goal keeper and goal defence.
Just one spot remains in the 2019 Lightning squad, with the final defender to be announced later this month.
To find out more about Sunshine Coast Lightning, please visit www.sunshinecoastlightning.com.au.