In a fitting tribute, crowd favourite and Firebird captain Gabi Simpson will celebrate 100 national league games tomorrow in front of a sell-out arena when the Lorna Jane Queensland Firebirds take on the Sunshine Coast Lightning in the last home derby for the 2019 season.
Netball Queensland CEO Catherine Clark congratulated Simpson on the milestone.
“This is an amazing achievement by one incredible athlete. Over the years Gabs has grown from an energetic raw talent into an world-class midcourter. She is a game-changer and we are proud she is a Queensland Firebird.
“Gabi and I have stood together though all sorts of weather. The happy days and the really difficult days. That journey together has proven to me just what a remarkable human being she is. She plays with this fierce love of netball and for her teammates. She’s an inspiration,” Ms Clark said.
To show support for Gabi on Saturday at the game, fans are being asked to post photos with their “guns out”.
“Gabi’s trains really hard and that shows in her athletic physique. She is known for her awesome guns so we thought this would be a fantastic, and fun, way to pay homage to our hero,” Ms Clark said.
The Firebirds will welcome four players back from World Cup duty tomorrow – Gretel Tippett (Australia), Romelda Aiken (Jamaica), Lenize Potgieter (South Africa) and Erin Burger (South Africa).
Coach Roselee Jencke said she was optimistic that the remaining Firebirds, who were able to dip into the HART Sapphire Series, have remained match-ready.
“Jet lag for returning World Cup players will potentially be a factor that influences this round of netball, however, we’ve been fortunate to have many of our playing group continue weekly competitive matches, so that will help us take the court tomorrow sharp and ready for a win,” Jenke said.
The Sunshine Coast Lightning will have five returning World Cup players, along with triumphant Silver Fern Coach, Noeline Taurua.
International players are: Captain Laura Langman (New Zealand), Steph Wood (Australia), Karla Pretorius (South Africa, also named player of the tournament), Phumza Maweni (South Africa) and Peace Proscovia (Uganda).
The Lorna Jane Queensland Firebirds are winless and in eighth place on the ladder with 15 points. The Sunshine Coast Lightning are in second place on 50 points. The match begins at 3pm at the Queensland State Netball Centre and will be televised live on the Nine Network.
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