By David Nagel
The interleague spotlight is about to refocus on netball with the Mornington Peninsula Nepean Football League (MPNFL) hosting the powerful Ovens and Murray at Rosebud on Saturday May 18.
The MPNFL returns to interleague A Grade competition after a two-year hiatus with Tyabb coach Keira Wills taking the reins of a talented 18-strong squad. Wills be assisted by Bonbeach coach Louise Manders, with the pair looking to build strong combinations and an enjoyable team atmosphere over four training sessions.
The squad, having already met for the first time, will have a further training session on Sunday April 28 before a team of 10 is selected to train twice more.
Wills had an outstanding 2018 season with the Yabbies, being named Coach and Goal Attack in the Division Two Team of the Year and taking home the MVP Award as voted by opposition A Grade coaches.
She is excited to be leading the best netballers in the MPNFL into battle.
“I know a lot of the girls through coaching or playing in the MPNFL and it’s going to be great to have them at my disposal for a change,” Wills said.
“The attitude and buy-in from the squad has been really good and I think most of them are just genuinely excited to be a part of the process, whether they make the final team or not.
“Through circumstances, we haven’t had interleague netball for two years now so it’s going to be really good to go out and showcase our league again. It’s nice to have that recognition again and I’m sure the girls will respect the privilege of playing for the MPNFL.”
Wills said the experience should be enjoyable but she definitely had her eye on victory.
“The number-one reason I’m doing this is for enjoyment, but we obviously want to win against a strong country competition that’s going to be pretty tough to beat,” she said.
“To be honest we’ve got no idea how we’ll match up, it’s impossible to predict, but I’m sure we will give a very good account of ourselves and play some very positive netball.”
In her junior days, Wills was an exciting young netballer with the world at her feet, representing Victoria in Under 15s, 17s and 19s, but three knee reconstructions meant she couldn’t fulfil the promise that saw her selected in an Australian squad.
She retired from playing netball for six years, focussing on a promising coaching career. She has been a long-time mentor at Peninsula Waves, starting at junior level and working her way through to Head Coach of the VNL side and was the Waves Championship Assistant in 2017.
She is currently in her fourth year at Tyabb, making grand finals in the first two years before making a semi-final appearance last year.
Wills said the opportunity to work with opposition coaches and players was very appealing.
“I met Louise (Manders) for the first time on the weekend and I’m looking forward to working closely with her to bring this team together,” Wills said.
“Bonbeach put Louise forward to be involved and I hope she gets as much out of this experience as everyone else in the group. It’s exciting for both of us to be working with such a high-quality group of players.”
MPNFL Interleague Coach Keira Wills, right, and assistant-coach Louise Manders are looking to build a strong combination to take on Ovens and Murray.
And is there one player in particular that she looks forward to working with most.
“That’s a hard one because it’s such a talented squad, but Jayde Aron from Langwarrin is someone I’m really looking forward to working with,” she said.
“She’s such a pain to play on, a really good defender, and I’m looking forward to seeing her work closely with one of our girls from Tyabb, Caitlin Watson. Eliza McGuigan is a tall goaler from Edi-Asp who can play at both ends of the court, and she’s going to be a fantastic target for us as well.”
2019 MPNFL A GRADE INTERLEAGUE SQUAD
Keira Wills (Tyabb)
Louise Manders (Bonbeach)
Jayde Aron (Langwarrin)
Theresa Blaauw (Bonbeach)
Tamara Bucca (Frankston YCW)
Brooke Cant (Frankston YCW)
Tiarne Dawson (Mt Eliza)
Remi Hynes (Bonbeach)
Rebecca Kelly (Sorrento)
Bethany Leach (Rosebud)
Millie McDermott (Rosebud)
Eliza McGuigan (Edi-Asp)
Briana O’Hehir (Sorrento)
Bridget Ryan (Mt Eliza)
Zoe Summers (Bonbeach)
Sara Tanner (Somerville)
Caitlin Watson (Tyabb)
Emma White (Rosebud)
Emily Wilson (Dromana)
Jacqui Witt (Rosebud)