Steph Wood rejoins the Sunshine Coast Lightning for 2022. (Photo: Sunshine Coast Lightning)

Vice-captain and Diamonds shooter Steph Wood is staying at the Sunshine Coast Lightning for the 2022 season after an injury-interrupted 18 months.

Sunshine Coast Lightning vice-captain and foundation player Steph Wood will return to the club in 2022. For all the Suncorp Super Netball signing news, stay up to date with our Off-Season Hub and follow The Inner Sanctum’s netball podcast, Over a Third, on Twitter and Instagram to get the news when it breaks.

The Lightning made it official today, announcing Wood’s re-signing in addition to the returning Kate Shimmin, Cara Koenen and new recruit Tara Hinchliffe.

A two time championship player, Wood knows exactly how to thrive under pressure.

Across the New South Wales Swifts and Lightning, she played in five grand finals straight across 2015 to 2019.

After going down to the West Coast Fever by eight goals in this year’s semi final after a successful fourth place, Wood is looking ahead to further success in 2022.

“As a group we’re really competitive and we don’t like to lose, so I have no doubt everyone will turn up on day one of pre-season ready to give it their all,” Wood said.

“I have a real belief in this group that we are forming and have a real trust in Kylee and the team to get the right people in place for us to continue to succeed and grow next year.

“I’m eager to get in a full pre-season, which I haven’t been able to do in the past few years, and get myself into the best possible position for what is shaping into a really special year.”

Wood fights for the ball against the Queensland Firebirds. (Photo: Suncorp Super Netball)

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On comeback from injury, and despite some injury woes late in the season, Wood made her return to the Diamonds squad. With 30 caps to her name, she’s one of the most experienced in this year’s squad.

Wood spoke earlier in the year on her return to the national level, and getting to do it alongside Koenen.

“I think I’m going to really enjoy [being experienced] in this group, because there is a lot of young goalers,” Wood explained.

“Cars has been in the SSN for five years now, but at an international level it is different. The game’s a lot faster, there’s no time outs, so [I’m] passing on whatever I can to those girls.

“Missing out on the Constellation Cup was difficult. Knowing that I had to get myself right for SSN and knowing that I had to perform there and knowing that there was a bigger tournament coming, that was important for me.”

Lightning head coach Kylee Byrne has watched Wood’s resilience to get back to her best first hand.

She oversaw a year which saw Wood perform at her Diamonds best, finishing the season with 209 goals, 218 goal assists and taking 249 centre pass receives.

Her long range shooting was of note, one of the best goalers on the Super Shot in 2021.

“Steph is one of a kind, her smarts and knowledge of the game not only impact her own output but also help educate and develop the players around her,” Byrne said.

“While she’s always been the type of person to keep herself and her teammates accountable and lean into those hard but necessary conversations, I’ve watched her really step up as an official leader this season.

“I’ll be eagerly watching how Steph and Cara combine on the international stage with Diamond duties and am excited to see the positive flow-on effect to our Lightning pre-season.”

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