Coach turns Firebirds upside down

FORMER coach Vicki Wilson has forecast the Queensland Firebirds will rue the controversial omission of skipper Peta Stephens for next year’s trans-Tasman netball series.

Veteran goal defence Stephens was one of six changes to the Firebirds’ 12-player squad for 2010 under ruthless new coach Roselee Jencke.

The Firebirds also waved good-bye to Janelle Lawson, Carla Dziwoki and Jenny O’Connor, while Demelza McCloud retired and import Tamsin Greenway chose to remain in England.

Jencke has recruited Diamonds duo Natalie Medhurst and Amy Steel, as well as adding Sophie Croft, Jacqui Russell, Laura Scherian and Sarah Wall to her roster.

Wilson, controversially dumped herself by Netball Queensland, , struggled to see the logic in axing Stephens, who has since signed with the Canterbury Tactix.

“I think it’s very sad,” the former Australian captain said. “Peta battled valiantly with a calf injury last season and just couldn’t get it right but by all accounts will be fine for next season.

“I still think she had more to give and because there’s no specialist goal defence selected in the squad it’s surprising.”

Stephens’ departure means Jencke will either have to convert vice-captain Clare McMeniman into a goal defence or force either Laura Geitz or fellow goal keeper Steel to play up the court further.

Jencke said her roster would create a versatile unit which would allow her to change the line-up easily as required in the search for consistency.

The Firebirds will play their opening game of the 13-round season on the Gold Coast against the Sydney Swifts on March 21.

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