EYES ON THE PRIZE: Goal shooter Zoe Claridge rehearses taking a shot at a Tasmanian Magpies training session in Launceston. Picture: Scott GelstonIt’sbeen just 21 days since the new Tasmanian Magpies startedon the road, but for goal shooter Zoe Claridge and her Tasmanian-based teammates, that’s just half the story.
In netball reality, it’s been closer to two years.
That’s when the Tassie Spirit unceremoniously bid farewellto Launceston to never return to the Australian Netball League.
The Collingwood-feeder side has played four of its six games in Melbourne, but for Claridge it’s not the same.
“It’s really a big difference playing at home than it is playing away – having that support is a huge difference,” Claridge said.
After much hype in a three-year partnership with glamour Super Netball club, the debut on their ANL namesake’s home court on Saturday evening and Sunday morning could give the Tasmanians the vital edge.
It’s more than the extra supporters on the sideline, Claridge insists.
The Silverdome court is regarded as one of the best playing surfaces in Australia, a fact why national coach Lisa Alexander insisted on bringing a Test match to Launceston last year.
“It makes you more relaxed knowing you know the court, you know the ring, you know how bouncy they are, especially for me being a shooter,” Claridge said.
“Just to know how much bounce there is and how much it affects your shot.
“Just being able to know the court does make a huge difference.”
Not only for Claridge, but for Northern Hawks state league teammate Ashton Whiley and Cavalliers midcourter Shelby Miller that all call the Silverdome home six months of the year.
The Melbourne-based Magpies arrived on Friday afternoon for a light session later that night to adjust to their new weekend home.
The home court advantage could not come at a better time for the rookie ANL side that sit on a precarious 2-4 win/loss record after a shock first win over Victorian Fury.
Claridge said the side is not underestimating the urgency to collect winsagainst the Southern Force, six games into a short 14-game season.
“I don’t think though it matters where we’re playing at the moment –every game is important and wewant to win them all,” she said.
But a positive Claridge also fancies theTasmanians’ chances against the fourth-placed rivals, the partner to the Adelaide Thunderbirds.
“I think we’re like every team that we play: we take them not that they’re above us or below us (on the ladder), but we take every game as it comes and put 110 per cent in each game,” she said.
“But I like our chances if we can gel together throughout the course of it.
“Obviously, not being able to train together all the time does affect us a little bit, but I think we’re able to adapt and just play to whoever we’re on the court with.”
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.