Experience, youth both key for Thunder

CENTRE STAGE: Orange stalwart Tegan Dray will make up half of the Thunder's formidable centre-court pairing, along with Annie Miller. Photo: SMP IMAGES

CENTRE STAGE: Orange stalwart Tegan Dray will make up half of the Thunder's formidable centre-court pairing, along with Annie Miller. Photo: SMP IMAGES

Blending experience with youth – that’s the key for Orange in this weekend’s Netball NSW State Cup.

Thunder coach Em Callaway named a blockbuster side for the competition – which essentially replaces the Inter-Regional State League – with a strong mix of youthful enthusiasm and representative experience.

One crucial factor is the entire side, individually, were in red-hot form in the back end of the Orange Netball Association Toyota Cup.

“It is that experience factor, combined with the young group we have as well,” Callaway said.

“We’ve got Tegan Dray in the centre there and the likes of Sheryll Selwood and Abby Tilburg have played together quite a bit as well so they know each other in that defensive end.

“We do have quite a few young players but there’s plenty of talent there. We’re going to win, so whichever combinations work the best we’ll be running with.”

One enviable combination Callaway has at her disposal is her centre rotation, of Dray and Australian Schoolgirl Annie Miller.

“Having that kind of depth is really good, we’ve got that in the other positions too,” Callaway said.

“The (Royal) Hawks connection of Alice Maier and Kristin Zinga will work well in the attacking end but we’ve got a player like Beth Curtin there too.”

Callaway will also have Kellie Watson, Cheynoah Merchant, Maddie Cole and Caitlyn Harvey to rotate through, all of whom played superbly in the Toyota Cup.

Callaway didn’t have any issues admitting she doesn’t know a lot about her side’s opposition in this weekend’s Netball NSW State Cup, mainly because of the confidence she has in her side.

Callaway named a blockbuster unit and she’s certain no matter which side they come up against, her troops will be able to adjust accordingly.

“Definitely, I’m confident they can adjust. We’ll have to and I think how well we do that will have a big impact on how we go,” Callaway said.

“Each of the sides tend to change a fair bit each year so it’s hard to know too much about them, there’ll be a lot of tough sides though I think.”

Newcastle look to be Orange’s toughest opponent in the regional pool of the tournament, where they’ll also play Grafton, Quirindi and Hastings Valley while the metro pool boasts a wealth of traditionally strong sides – like Baulkham Hills, Manly Warringah and Sutherland Shire.

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