02/03/2024

The Queensland Sapphires squad for the 2022 Australian Netball Championships has been announced. (Photo: Netball Queensland)

The Queensland Sapphires have announced an exciting and versatile squad for the Australian Netball Championships in August.

The Queensland Sapphires have announced their inaugural squad for the Australian Netball Championship which begin in August.

The Australian Netball Championships are about to begin in Victoria next month for the first time. In preparation for the tournament, the Sapphires have announced their squad. It will be led by Queensland Firebirds squad member Mia Stower and coached by Katie Walker.

The attacking members of the squad are Mia Stower, Charlie Bell, Olivia Dijkstra and Rylee Burns. Stower will provide the experience and help develop the other goalers. Rylee Burns is known for her variety and can shoot from anywhere in the circle.

Charlie Bell is a training partner of Stower at the Firebirds and could be one of the best players in the competition. Hailing from the Gold Coast Titans netball academy, Olivia Dijkstra will hope to learn from the others and excel when given the opportunity.

Mia Stower will provide a wealth of experience to the team. (Photo: Supplied)

The midcourt players for the Sapphires are Leesa Mi Mi, Macy Gardiner, Hulita Veve and Lia Woolnough. All four players can play in all three position in the midcourt; wing defence, centre, and wing attack.

Coach Katie Walker has yet to give any indication on who will be playing where, keeping her cards close to her chest.

Two players who are almost certain to feature as starters on the court are Macy Gardner and Hulita Veve. Both are part of the Queensland Firebirds development system with Gardner just signing as a contracted 10 member. Bring experience to the squad, Walker rely on them to provide voice and leadership.

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Mi Mi and Woolnough will be players to watch when given court time. Having already represented Australia at junior levels, Mi Mi is tracking along the pathways nicely.

In the defensive circle the Sapphires will have Remi Kato, Ashleigh Ervin, Maddi Ridley and Danielle Taylor. All four players are versatile, showing incredible athleticism and adaptability. Recently picked up by the Firebirds, Kato will be looking to showcase all her defensive skill in an early SSN audition.

Ervin has similarly been contracted as a Firebirds training partner, and would like to make her case to be called upon if required.

Ridley will unfortunately have to pass a fitness test before she is allowed to play after being under an injury cloud, and Taylor is looking to prove that she belongs in the same conversation as the others.

All players have been selected from the Queensland Sapphire Series. (Photo: Sapphire Series)

Coach Katie Walker is looking forward to the challenge at the Australia Netball Championship and believe she has a team that can go all the way.

“It’s a team of winners, and that includes our training partners also,” she said.

“Our priorities and focus are on preparation and performance, and that sits alongside their strong desire to not only wear the Queensland Sapphires dress but to achieve success whilst wearing it.

“This group understands and embraces the mindset that securing a spot in the team isn’t enough, it’s what we do from here as individuals and as a team that is important.

“We are genuine contenders at the ANC and our expectation is we’re going to go to Victoria and do well, and that challenge excites me greatly.”

The full squad was chosen from the recent HART Sapphire Series showcased in North Queensland. Five training partners which accompany the squad in Victoria. These players are Maddie Grant, Michaela Kadlecek, Jessie Laga’aia, Elsa Sif Sandholt and Isabelle She

2022 Queensland Sapphires Squad

Charlie Bell (ACU Brisbane North Cougars)

Rylee Burns (ACU Brisbane North Cougars)

Olivia Dijkstra (Gold Coast Titans)

Ashleigh Ervin (USQ Jets)

Macy Gardner (ACU Brisbane North Cougars)

Remi Kamo (ACU Brisbane North Cougars)

Leesa Mi Mi (ACU Brisbane North Cougars)

Maddi Ridley (USQ Jets)

Mia Stower (Queensland Fireburds)

Danielle Taylor (QUT)

Hulita Veve (QUT)

Lia Woolnough (ACU Brisbane North Cougars)

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