17/04/2024

Australian Diamonds and Sunshine Coast Lightning shooting duo Steph Wood and Cara Koenen (Picture: Sunshine Coast Lightning, Design by Madeline Irwin)

Having played in the goal circle since their club’s inception, Steph Wood and Cara Koenen are synonymous with the Sunshine Coast Lightning and the Australian Diamonds.

A shooting duo that have wow’ed Suncorp Super Netball fans for years has been Steph Wood and Cara Koenen, they have created a bond that has lasted through the domestic sphere and onto the international stage.

Living together when Koenen moved from Far North Queensland, they’ve grown together to become one of the best attacking combinations in the SSN.

Having learnt from Australian netball legend Caitlin Bassett, Wood and Koenen are now doing their bit to usher in Charlie Bell at the Lightning, and Kiera Austin, Sophie Garbin and Sophie Dwyer at the Diamonds.

Cara Koenen spoke exclusively to The Inner Sanctum about her experience learning from Wood and their partnership’s evolution.

“We’ve been playing together for a while, obviously she did her brief stint down in Sydney [at the NSW Swifts] and then we ended up back together again,” Koenen told The Inner Sanctum.

“We are also very close off the court and we have a really good relationship that means that we have a whole lot of fun but that also means [we can] get messages across to other other very quickly and effectively when we are on court in the moment.

“It’s awesome to have that open relationship with her and I feel like I’ve said it a lot recently, and she’ll hate me saying it, but she’s definitely one of the smartest players in the game. To be able to learn off her, I feel like she just makes me look so good out the back honestly she kind of knows where I’m going to be before I know.

“It’s awesome to be able to work a lot more on that combination, both at [the] Lightning where I’m very lucky and at Diamonds level too.”

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Playing under Wood and Bassett in her formative years in the SSN, Koenen reflected on how the relationships she’s had with both players has helped her development.

She also spoke to The Inner Sanctum about her role in mentoring the younger players within the team ahead of Round One.

“I think that coming into the Lightning fold as a twenty-year-old I was lucky enough to learn from her (Wood) and Caitlin Bassett. They are two obviously very different shooters, but they were both very, very experienced and smart players in their own right,” she said.

“I feel like I won the lottery when I got picked up by Lightning and ‘Noels’ [Noeline Taurua] a few years ago but I think that our relationship is really, really strong.

“We are able to get messages across really [quickly] and have frank conversations about what we need from each other and what each of us are doing really well and that’s always really good too.”

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