After so many years playing, you’d think Souths veteran Narelle Eather wouldn’t mind a season break. Anyone thinking that doesn’t know the 44-year-old netball star well though; all she wants is to get back out on court this Saturday.
The evergreen Newy star has become part of the Greater Open Championship furniture in her signature red and white, and now she has one eye on Souths’ future generations. That doesn’t mean she’s hanging up the boots anytime soon though.
In fact, she’s as eager as any to “finally, after so long” get back to playing. Souths begin their shortened season against Junction Stella this weekend, and Eather plans to be the first one out on court to get the game underway.
“We just want to make the most it,” Eather said while talking to the Chronicle ahead of the season restart. “The season is going to be short, intense, and whatever we’ve got, whoever we’ve got, we’ll do what we can at the time and certainly enjoy it.”
“It’s a building season for us, to get new players on-court and getting them experience, that is our main goal, especially with the short-fire season. We’re rolling with the punches, it doesn’t matter what capacity we are playing in this year but we’re keen to play.”
Souths finished as runners-up for the third time in a row last season, but have remained top-spot challengers for more than half a decade. Part of their constant presence at the very top, Eather says, if Souths’ focus on building young talent.
The whole club is excited to see all eight teams, and their new junior squads, embracing that same ‘building’ mentality. Having so many young stars given a chance in the Greater Championship system will “help Newcastle netball explode,” Eather said.
“We’ve had a big cohort of juniors that are always knocking on the door every year, but it is really great to see everyone across the board embracing it this year. It’s going to make the whole competition and the region a lot stronger for sure,” she said.
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“Players can go to eight clubs now, and know that they have a pathway to the top. It’s great for everyone, better leagues and competitions breed stronger players and more talent for the Hunter. It’s great to see, definitely!”
The Lions are still on the hunt for that top prize though, and now more than ever could be a good chance to claim the club title, Eather said. Souths have “top talent” all the way from their championship squad to their 23s, and they’re gunning for the silverware.
“It’s great to have an award or a trophy for the club, so that it’s not just about the top team, and it promotes us all to build,” Narelle said. “Having three strong teams is a great thing to reward, and I hope that it continues long into the future.”