18/04/2024

Dunkley plays her 50th career game against the Adelaide Thunderbirds this weekend (Image: firebirds.net.au)

Queensland Firebirds vice-captain Lara Dunkley celebrates her 50th game this weekend, and is looking forward to getting one back over the Adelaide Thunderbirds who came away with the points in their last matchup earlier in the season.

Lara Dunkley has been an impressive player in the Firebirds’ midcourt ever since coming across from the Melbourne Vixens in 2020.

Speaking to media ahead of her 50th game against the Adelaide Thunderbirds at the Netball SA Stadium on Saturday, Dunkley is as hopeful as ever to get payback over the team who beat them by 15 points in March.

“Hopefully [we will get the win], they’re going to have an incredible crowd, we all know that, and it is a great stadium to play in, so I can’t wait to get over to Adelaide,” Dunkley said.

After leaving the Vixens to join the Queensland Firebirds 2020 on a replacement contract, Dunkley has emerged as a star player for her team, since then she has been developing her leadership, seeing herself being appointed vice-captain under good mate Kim Ravaillion last season.

Although the Firebirds’ vice-captain is loving life in Queensland, she didn’t find the decision to move up to the upper-east Coast an easy one to make initially.

“I still remember making that decision, and it was really daunting, to begin with”, she said.

“But I haven’t regretted anything that I’ve done, I love it up here, the group I’ve gone through these many games with have been a part of it the whole time.

“It’s just a really special time and we’ll take time to think about all the games that I’ve played.”

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Lara makes her 50th appearance at the weekend, and says the connections she’s made in the game have been a standout.

“Fifty games is a lot of games, especially at this level”, she said.

“But I’ve had so many memories and made some incredible friends, and learned so much, so its just been an incredible experience.”

Rebecca Bulley was appointed head coach ahead of the 2023 Super Netball Season (Image: firebirds.net.au)

Winning three championships, the Queenslanders have been one of the most successful elite netball clubs in the nation, but in recent times the current Firebirds outfit hasn’t seen finals series action since the 2018 season, where they would be narrowly defeated by the Sunshine Coast Lightning in the semi-finals.

Although the Firebirds have found it tough in the past few seasons, fans of the club will be hopeful that better times are on the horizon, after the appointment of former Firebird premiership player and Australian international Rebecca Bulley, as head coach in July last year.

Lara Dunkley is in agreeance with fans who hope for a better season after recent changes at the club.

“We’re really building here and it’s exciting to be a part of, we had a really good gameplan last week, we put it aside and we’re onto this week,” Dunkley explained.

The Firebirds have started most games this season well, but have mostly failed to hit a run of consistency throughout all four quarters thus far, and it’s something Dunkley acknowledged needs to be worked on as the season progresses:

“Our first half this season has been really inconsistent with our quarters, and it’s been a really big goal of ours to play four consistent quarters”, she said.

Currently sitting a place outside the top four, with eight points separating them and the 4th placed Vixens, the Queensland Firebirds will be hoping to pull off a massive upset against the first-placed Thunderbirds to celebrate Lara Dunkley’s milestone game this weekend.

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