Julie Fitzgerald AM’s experience will give the Giants the edge they need to topple the Swifts in the Suncorp Super Netball Grand Final on Saturday.
With more than 350 national league games under her belt, Fitzgerald will be looking to secure the Giants their inaugural Super Netball premiership.
An inaugural Giants grand final victory would see their skilful leader claim her sixth national league title.
Like many coaches this year, Fitzgerald joined her team traveling across the nation to keep the Super Netball season alive.
Spending nine weeks embracing hub life across Queensland, Victoria and South Australia; the conclusion of the season will allow players to travel home and spend time with their families.
In Round 1, the ladies in orange handed the Thunderbirds a 14-goal thrashing in South Australia to start their season on a high.
From then, the Giants seemed unbeatable, securing four straight wins before losing by the smallest of margins to the Fever in Round 5.
The Giants and Swifts met for the first time at Ken Rosewall Arena in Round 6, where the Swifts proved too good for their cross-town rivals defeating them in every quarter.
In Round 7, Fitzgerald coached her 350th national league game where the Giants fell short to the Lightning in their third straight loss for the season.
Fitzgerald’s side would go on to cement five more wins and the minor premiership before meeting the Swifts for the third time this year in the major semi-final.
The major semi-final would see the Giants face their third agonising one-goal loss for the season.
Last Saturday, the Giants produced one of their most heart-stopping performances of the season, lifting tremendously to send the Fever packing and book a spot in their second Super Netball Grand Final.
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Twenty years ago, Fitzgerald coached the Sydney Swifts to their first premiership in the Commonwealth Bank Trophy.
From then, she’s gone on to win three more titles in 2004, 2006 and 2007 before taking on the role of coach for the Australian Institute of Sport netball squad.
Fitzgerald’s legacy of success sets the Giants up perfectly to match the Swifts on Saturday afternoon.
For Fitzgerald, this finals series has been unlike any of the past 20 she has coached.
The Giants are a particularly young team with five of the current players playing in NSW State League only three years ago.
As head coach, Fitzgerald says she couldn’t be prouder of her team’s improvement this year.
“I think the proudest thing for me about this has been the development of the youth,” she told media on Thursday.
As a moving shooter, Sam Wallace provides a different challenge for the Giants defence. But after Poolman’s performance last week, Fitzgerald believes the Giants will rise to the occasion.
With a predominantly young team, the five-time title winner wants her side to enjoy the experience but not take it for granted.
“I want the young ones to appreciate that they don’t come around that easily,” Fitzgerald said.
“You don’t get to play that many and I want them to enjoy everything that goes with it.
“Then you understand that once you get to the game, we’re back to being our clinical selves sticking to the game plan and doing what we need to do.”
Giants captain and English international Jo Harten will play her 150th national league game on Saturday where she will go head to head with Swifts defender Sarah Klau.
Harten’s leadership will be of extreme value to her team, whose inexperience will not hinder their ability to capitalise off opportunities.
Utilising the Super Shot will be a strength for the Giants outfit, who rank first in the league for attempts and conversions.
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