Hadley offers support as new netball season dawns

The 2024 Panthers Netball Premier League squad. Photo: Clusterpix Photography.
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Australian Diamonds and NSW Swifts superstar Paige Hadley has joined the coaching staff of the Panthers Netball Premier League team this upcoming season.

The highly respected St Clair Netball junior has linked up with the franchise as a Specialist Coach for the next three years and will help out with the club’s Under 23s and Opens teams.

The 31-year-old Commonwealth Games gold medallist and World Cup winner was in attendance at last week’s 2024 Panthers Netball Season Launch, held at Penrith City Council.

Hadley, who is considered as Panther #1, was asked by the team’s High Performance Manager Lisa Beehag on stage if she’d ever wear the black dress as a player once her professional career winds up.

“Hopefully not in the near future, but never say never,” Hadley teased.

“Netball is always going to be a big part of my life and when I finally step away from the green and gold dress and the red dress, it’s going to be at the right time. Now is not that time and I never say never.”

Along with netball royalty in Hadley was the entire Panthers Netball squad for the season, which officially gets underway on tonight against North Shore United.

The Panthers Opens team had a horror 2023, plagued by injury which saw them finish with the wooden spoon courtesy of three wins and 13 losses.

Lisa Beehag and Paige Hadley.

Panthers Opens assistant coach Elicha Reitsma said she’s very excited to see the team back on the court after a disappointing year.

“We’ve got a really exciting group of athletes coming along for the journey this year – half of them have returned and there’s some new talent in the team including three Under 23s players who have been promoted into the side,” she told the Weekender.

“We had a lot of setbacks with injury last year, really severe injuries that would see us lose the player for the entire season. Because of how competitive that level is, it’s really hard to find replacement players of the same quality.

“Unfortunately it wasn’t our season last year but that foundation and culture coming through was what kept the girls going.”

It was a different story for the Panthers Under 23s team, who finished last year in fourth position, reaching the Preliminary Finals.

While much of her team has changed this season, Panthers Under 23s coach Jenny Barsby said the expectations remain the same.

“It’s definitely a very different team but the expectation doesn’t change – we’re still looking for a top four finish,” she told the Weekender.

“I think we still have to have that same goal and aim for that top four. I think the team has got it in them, so we just have to strive for that.”

Adding to the competition’s interest this season is the introduction of new franchise the South West Mounties Magic, which is made of players from the Liverpool City Netball Association and Mounties.

“It’ll be nice to have a full complement of teams again this season,” Reitsma said.

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