Bell banks on new blood to bely Magpie hubris

Narre Warren begins their premiership defence on Saturday against Pakenham at home. 362381 Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS

By Marcus Uhe

Narre Warren’s premiership-winning netball coach Erin Bell believes competition for spots in the Magpies’ A-Grade team will eschew any hints of complacency within the squad heading into a new campaign this weekend.

The Magpies conquered Outer East’s senior netball competition by winning the A, B C and D-Grade premierships last season in a stunning display, reflecting their winning culture and dominance over the league in September last year.

The question for Bell and the Magpies becomes thus; how do you build on success of THAT magnitude?

The attitude of the entire squad, not just the top bracket of players, is driving the preseason, and is expected to carry into the season proper, in the eyes of Bell.

“I think if you have the exact same team going in and you’ve won a grand final, then you might have that complacency, but I think for us, because our team will be quite different, and because B, C and D-Grade have had quite a few changes, I think that gets rid of that complacency,” Bell said.

“You can’t rely on the fact that you had that winning team last year, there are a few new players to bring in.

“I wouldn’t say we’re feeling at all complacent, but it’s certainly a risk when you win the previous season.”

Shooter Clare Vearing is the primary loss and biggest-name absence while a handful has chosen to retire or step-away from netball within the club’s lower grades.

But on top of the four senior flags the club won last year, four of their six junior sides also added to the trophy cabinet at Kalora Park, making for eight of a possible 10 netball premierships in 2023.

That success has seen a number of players put their name forward for selection in Bell’s A-Grade side, eager to make an impact at the highest level.

As long as they bring the typical intensity and tenacity that Narre Warren Netball Club prides itself on, the Magpies will be expecting to challenge for success once again.

“I think, you win a premiership and you kind of lose a few players, and our juniors have come in, and they bring that motivation,” Bell said.

“They’re excited to play seniors and they’re that little bit younger and fresher.

“I think we’ve been trying to feed-off them and their enthusiasm and motivation, so that’s been good to have them there.

“Hopefully given that we do have a few new players, we can call on their strengths, and I’m yet to really figure out what that is.

“With our new group, being open to new things based on the new players we do have, and working to our players’ strengths, is what I’m aiming to do as coach.”

The Magpies begin their season at home on Saturday against Pakenham where they will have the chance to reflect on the successes of last season when they unveil their premiership flags.

Pakenham, for their part, will be without Emma Jones for the duration of the 2024 season after she tore her ACL during the preseason.

Caitlin Cooke will fill the breach as A-Grade captain, with the Lions to be coached by Matt Cooke once again.