Semi-Final Preview: Firebirds Fight for State and National Glory

After missing out on the top-four last year, the Lorna Jane Queensland Firebirds are embracing their place in this year’s Super Netball finals series ahead of Sunday’s showdown against the Sunshine Coast Lightning.

“It is so great to be back in finals. We’re just so excited to be able to take the court that we weren’t able to do last year. We’ve given ourselves that opportunity and we’re just ready and raring to go,” said Firebirds captain Gabi Simpson.

With the two Queensland sides containing players who have either played with or against each other on the international stage, the Diamonds vice-captain isn’t going to let friendships get in the way on Sunday.

“Great mates off the court – amazing humans, but once we step across that line it’s on because this is Queensland pride, but not only Queensland pride we want to be the best team in Australia, so we need to put out a good performance.”

Six of the Firebirds 10-player team were a part of their premiership winning side in 2016 – something Queensland will look to utilise on Sunday.

“Experience is huge in pressure situations where we need people to step up and that’s what we do have, but also the excitement that the youth brings is also really important for a team and that’s what players like Kimmy Jenner, Mahalia Cassidy and Tara have brought to the team this year,” said Simpson.

After her Sunshine Coast counterpart Geva Mentor accused the Firebirds of lacking respect earlier this week – Simpson chose to take the high road in reply.

“We have a lot of respect for Lightning. They came from scratch last year, they’ve built themselves up and won a premiership. They have a Super Netball trophy and we don’t. They’ve played Super Netball finals – we haven’t, so a lot of respect there.”

The Firebirds are in hot form leading into this finals series, chasing a fifth straight win on Sunday.

“That’s been very big for us and I think the vibe on court we’ve been putting out some pretty special performances, but we know this week we need to put out the most special performance we’ve got, and we’re excited we’ve got the opportunity to do that and we’re hoping we can do that,” said Simpson.

The Firebirds are buoyed by the fact they haven’t lost in Brisbane this season and are calling on all Firebirds fans to show their support and wear purple on Sunday.

“We do want a purple crowd and it’s amazing to be in BEC (Brisbane Entertainment Centre) because we can have up to 10,000 people there and that’s really important for us. We want it to be as purple as possible,” said Simpson.

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