When young, gun shooter Aurella White joined Life Studio from Forbes this season to gain more experience at a higher standard, few would've predicted the monumental impact she'd have in her first season in Orange Netball Association's Toyota Cup.
Mardi Aplin saw it coming though.
Casting an eye back to the West Orange Motors Senior Competitions' top flight's pre-season, Life Studio's player-coach was quick to highlight the self-effacing 15-year-old as a potential catalyst for a title run, even after the side missed the 2018 finals.
While Life's run to Saturday's decider has, of course, been more than a one-woman show, there's no denying the role their boom recruit has played, particularly in the last month or so after Alice Maier's season-ending knee injury.
I definitely didn't think I'd be playing in a grand final ... definitely not a division one grand final.Life Studio shooter Aurella White
Since then she's basically been forced to play every minute of every game in the attacking circle and has stepped up with aplomb, using her almost-unbelievable height to control the shooting arc in a beautiful combination with Kate Mastronardi.
On that height, it can't be underestimated considering White is just 15 but is the tallest player in Life's side, and it's no secret that's an attribute that can't be taught.
"Obviously it's a game where there's two shooters and everyone plays their role, but I think I've been able to step up a bit to play full games (since Alice got hurt) and I've got my head around it now," White said, speaking from Life Studio's final training session on Thursday evening.
"I've really loved it this year. I'm playing with a great bunch of girls and the competition is really tough, which I've enjoyed because it's a bit more social in Forbes being a smaller town with less players.
"I wanted more opportunity and Mardi spoke my mum at a [Western Region Academy of Sport] competition and suggested I come over and give it a crack. I definitely didn't think I'd be playing in a grand final though, definitely not a division one grand final because I've never experienced a competition at this level before.
"I'm really excited though and really looking forward to Saturday."
While White's already cast an eye on potentially winning a spot in Orange's Netball NSW Bing Lee West-Central West Regional League squad, her focus is obviously still very much on Saturday's decider against 11-time defending champions Orange City Craig Harvey Mechanical.
Being a first-year player she bears no potential scars from any previous defeats to the powerhouse Lions though, although her minor premiership-winning side did suffer a disappointing, six-goal defeat at their hands in the major semi-final a fortnight ago.
Her side has knocked the reigning champions off this year though, and even though that 49-34 win came all the way back in round one it's still a reason for confidence for the navy and lime bibs.
"Even though I'm in my first year I've seen how good they are, although we haven't really talked about Orange City too much. It's anyone's game and I think we're just focusing on ourselves," White said.
"I think if we stick to our game plan and just keep the momentum from last week up and keep pushing it'll go a long way to getting us through, there's so much talent in this side I think we're definitely capable of taking it out."
Saturday's mouth-watering division one decider begins at 3.15pm on Sir Neville Howse Stadium's show court.
- LIFE STUDIO: Aurella White, Kate Mastronardi, Em Brisbane, Soph Brisbane, Em Williams, Chloe Riley, Alex Emerson, Mardi Aplin, Alice Maier
- ORANGE CITY CRAIG HARVEY MECHANICAL: Kristin Zinga, Maddie Cole, Katelin Eslick, Katie Matthews, Caitlyn Harvey, Brooke Burcher, Sarah Thorley, Tegan Dray, Sam Spicer
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