Sunshine Coast Lightning has not had to look far for a new leadership duo for season 2021 with veterans Karla Pretorius and Steph Wood announced to be stepping into the roles respectively.
Pretorius will be the Lightning’s third captain, while Wood will be her vice captain.
Previously a vice captain under Laura Langman, Pretorius is honored to take on the role.
“Honestly, I’m really excited for this new challenge, grabbing it by two hands and seeing where it can go,” she said.
With such strong tutelage under the legendary Langman, Pretorius will look to take what she has learnt as vice-captain with her going forward.
“I think you always learn from the ones that was there before, and then you kind of want to bring in your own flavors, kind of what personally I stand for,” she said.
“I think the fact that you were elected captain, already says a lot.
“Honestly just going to go about doing my business, and I feel well supported by all the girls.”
Despite being a founding member of the Lightning team and one of the most experienced players in the league, Wood said her appointment to vice-captain was a shock to her.
“I’ve never really seen myself as a leader,” she said.
“But to be voted by your peers as someone who they see as a leader is really exciting.
“[I’ll] kind of learn off Karla and see what I can do in that leadership role.”
Wood believes she can add a unique element to the team in her new role as vice-captain.
“One of my strengths is I’m not afraid at training, to say how it is,” she said.
“If we’re not living up to our standards, I’m not afraid to kind of probably be, the bad one, you know to lift our standards.
“That’s something I learnt from Laura [Langman].
“And I will also lean on her for a little bit of advice, because I think she’s one of the best leaders I’ve ever had, and Karla too.”
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The new leadership duo of Wood and Pretorius for season 2021 will have the task of leading the Lightning back to the finals, keeping their streak that dates to the first season of SSN alive.
“Going into the season, you want to win, and that’s how I am this year,” Pretorius said.
“[I’m] focusing on the processes and the steps to get there. So, not looking too far ahead, and we continue to be better on court and build as the season goes.
“Focusing on the process, and… definitely want to go all the way.”
The journey for the Lightning to return to the finals will start next Saturday night, when the Lightning kick off the season against the Collingwood Magpies.
Despite Collingwood finishing last in 2020, Wood is weary about the matchup. A key player returning from the AFLW season has her and her teammates particularly wary.
“[The game is] a massive test,” she said.
“In 2019 they wiped the court with us.
“They’ve got Ash Braz [Ashleigh Brazill] coming back, and from the little AFL that I’ve watched, she hasn’t missed a beat.
“She’s probably gonna run a bit of centre with Kelsey [Browne] who looks as fit as ever. With their new goal attack coming in too, it’s a massive test for us.
“But i think that’s exciting, a good challenge for us to hit round one.”
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