Price (far left) with mum Jo, dad Steve, brother Riley and sister Kasey. (Photo: Jamie-Lee Price/Instagram)

Giants Netball star mid-courter Jamie-Lee Price, unlike most Super Netballers still competing for the 2021 title, has been fortunate enough to be surrounded by her family on the Sunshine Coast.

Giants Netball’s Jamie-Lee Price hasn’t played in front of a home crowd in New South Wales in two months.

In fact, none of the Giants players have been able to. When lockdown began in Sydney not even a week after the Giants defeated the Adelaide Thunderbirds at Ken Rosewall Arena, they were left quickly fleeing across the country.

With the (eventually realised) prospect of another hub just like 2020, the New South Wales players, coaches and staffs faced a daunting prospect: more weeks away from family and friends.

The majority of players in the Giants line up were forced to say goodbye, as they jettisoned into the unknown. They had no idea how long the lockdown would last, or when they could play in Sydney.

For Price, however, the eventual move into a Queensland hub couldn’t have been any better.

Unlike many of her teammates, Price’s family (pictured above) currently live on the Sunshine Coast, including father and 300-plus game NRL legend Steve, and brother Riley – current North Queensland Cowboy.

“I guess it’s probably an opposite feeling to the other girls,” Price told media today.

“When they’re back home they have all their family and support, so for me being in Queensland it’s happy days because I get my family.”

The best part, she says, is getting the chance to have her family in the crowd at every game in uncertain times. They got the first chance to watch her for the season in the Round 12 victory over the Melbourne Vixens.

“They get to come to every game [at the moment],” Price said.

“My family take full advantage of it when we do come into these hub situations. They’re really excited to come to the finals games.”

Price in the huddle with her teammates before the win over the Vixens (Photo: Super Netball/Twitter)

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The nine-goal win over the struggling Vixens was never in doubt in a game where Price had 23 feeds, 10 assists, four deflections, three gains and two intercepts.

This week’s opponent in the West Coast Fever, however, won’t be a side that’s quite so easy to control.

For Price, her focus will be firmly on the mid-court. Direct opponent in the Fever’s centre bib Jess Anstiss is coming off a monster semi-final where she had 31 feeds, 20 assists, two gains, two intercepts and two deflections.

Wing attack Verity Charles similarly had an untenable 48 feeds and 28 assists.

With the connection the mid-court has with the shooting end, and one of the tallest, lumbering (and accurate) shooters in Jhaniele Fowler to feed to, it’s an area the Giants have to watch.

“When you go against the Fever, obviously that mid-court battle is really important,” Price said.

“They’ve got a big, tall shooter out the back who’s their target. It’s really important for us to get on top of them early in the game, and have a really good start. We need to put the pressure on so they can’t get it down into that shooting end quickly.”

So how do the Giants combat the Green Machine? Price believes that their experience in down to the wire games (including two against the Fever) will hold them in good stead.

“This whole year we’ve had a lot of close games, a couple of disappointing ones and a couple of exciting ones,” she said.

“I think we’re really experienced now, and we’re ready to go. We know we need to [both] stick to our own individual battles and stay connected and do our jobs. The rest will kind of take place.

“We match up really well against them and have had two really tough battles against them. I think both teams… will be very confident going into the game.

“Obviously the Fever can score goals very, very quickly. They definitely had a point to prove and have done really well to get where they are. It’s a full credit to them in doing so. They’re obviously sending off Stacey [Marinkovich] with it being her last year at the Fever, they want to send her off in a good manner.

“We’ve been working really hard this season… and we played them two games ago. We know what we need to do, and if we can do what we know we need to do… we will obviously get results. We’ll do our best!”

Return to the finals stage

After missing finals for the past two seasons, the Giants have made their return to the finals stage.

Just like their previous campaign in 2018, the side is in danger of winning the minor premiership and going out in straight sets. Last time, the Fever landed the first jab. This time, it could be the knockout blow.

“I don’t really think [there’s added pressure],” Price said.

“I feel like 2018 was a bit of a blur looking back at it, I don’t even remember us being in that situation. We’re a brand new group of girls and we’re just so excited.

“From what happened last week, we’re just raring to go for this weekend. We’re very lucky to get another chance.

“Yeah it’s finals, and finals is a different level, but if we’re not enjoying being out there we’re not going to perform. As long as we’re up and about and enjoying the experience I think we’ll go well.

“Last week was a good refresher of what finals is about. I think that was a good experience for all of us.”

Can the Fever ruin the Giants premiership dream again? (Photo: West Coast Fever)

Price speaks about the importance of enjoying their netball to get the best out of themselves in finals. However, for most players, there’s reality to face as well.

The majority of the team, despite their best efforts, will still be seeing COVID numbers rise back home day on day.

Price doesn’t see it as a negative, however. Perhaps herself and her teammates aren’t in the position to see it at that way. Instead, they’re counting their blessings.

“We’re really grateful that we get to still be playing netball,” she said.

“You look at what’s happening in New South Wales, and a lot of our training partners and netballers in general aren’t even getting to play netball.

“I think we’re super lucky that we’re here, we’re not in lockdown and we get to play netball with crowds. That’s just really, really exciting.”

The Giants and the Fever will play off for a Grand Final spot at 3:00pm (AEST) at USC Stadium on Saturday.

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