Lara Dunkley in Round 2 against the Vixens. Photo: QLD Firebirds

After a breakout 2020, Queensland Firebird Lara Dunkley chats about the Firebirds' outstanding back half of last season and what's on the cards for this year.

The Queensland Firebirds are one of the most exciting teams in the Suncorp Super Netball Competition coming into 2021.

With the Firebirds producing exciting performances towards the backend of 2020 it will be exciting to see what the future holds for 2021.

One of the firebirds that had a breakout season was Lara Dunkley, after making the move from the Vixens at the end of 2019.

The Inner Sanctum spoke with Dunkley about the resurgence of the Firebirds in the back half of 2020 as well as what’s on the cards for 2021.

“I think it was our overall energy like we noticed how we actually started the season and collectively came together and do what we needed to do. Sticking to game plans, backing each other and believing in ourselves,” Dunkley told The Inner Sanctum.

“ It was exciting to finish the season on a relatively high and I think that is really important leading into 2021.”

 When the Firebirds lifted, so did Dunkley, as she got more and more court time as weeks progressed.

“I think it was the opportunities that I had out on court and when I moved up here (to Queensland) it was to get that experience of match play consistently and when I had those opportunities I tried to take those with two hands and give it my best shot,” she said.

“You’ve always got things to work on after many games and having that consistent match play that allowed me to get better and the challenges, I had to face made me get through the season.

“It was awesome to just get the opportunity to be out there and playing the sport I love.”

Dunkley made her Firebirds debut in round one against Sunshine Coast Lightning but it wasn’t until the latter half of the season where her efforts were rewarded by being named in the starting seven regularly.

“When you’ve got people surrounding you and backing you in it allows you to get that confidence but it’s a matter of then preforming and giving it your best shot out on court,” she said.

 “I’m a very competitive person so I was trying to get out there and beat my opponent and then hopefully work together as a team, I think the connections just grew throughout the year.  

“That’s what made it a lot easier to preform when you’ve got those connections around you.”

Lara Dunkley against the Fever. Photo: QLD Firebirds

Looking forward to 2021, for the Firebirds it’s all about backing each other in to get the job done.

“I think it’s just embracing one another and everyone brings their own strengths to the game of netball,” she said.

“ I think it’s getting around those strengths and we have such a versatile talented team and I think it’s really exciting to see what’s to come.

“We’ve got a lot of youth as well which brings that excitement to the game. Moving on to another season, hopefully we’ll see how we go but with this group there are some special things to come.”

With two superstars of the game pulling on the purple dress once again in 2021, with the homecoming of Firebirds legend Kim Ravaillion and the return of international superstar Gretel Bueta. The pair’s return doesn’t only benefit the team on court performance.

“It benefits the team endlessly really, they can provide so much experience and knowledge of the game and I think that’s really amazing as younger athletes to have them back playing for the Firebirds so we can grow and learn not just as individuals but as a team,” she said.

“I think having those girls there is priceless, you can’t beat having two superstars back in the purple, representing the purple family.“

One of the many positives for the Firebirds going into 2021 is the sides depth and versatility which brings a selfless approach into 2021.  

“It’s a selfless approach this year, we want to win and be successful so whatever it takes and whoever is on the court is what it will be,” she said.

 “The fact that we are so onboard with one another and we want to see us be successful, so whatever it will take we will just go with it.

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