Gisborne add young talent

Kirby Elliott (Shawn Smits)

By Oliver Lees

Gisborne has landed two marquee signings ahead of the 2022 Bendigo Netball League season.

Bulldogs coach Tarryn Rymer confirmed last week the club had secured talented youngsters Claudia Mawson, who last year was selected in the Victorian Fury squad, and Kirby Elliott, who received the Riddell District Netball League rising star award while playing for Riddell in 2019.

Rymer said she hoped the addition of the two prodigious talents could help propel her side to the ultimate success, after the Bulldogs finished in third place last year in a season that was ultimately called off due to COVID-19 protocol.

The Bulldogs lost just two and drew one game from their 12 matches.

“We wanted someone that could slide in across the middle and defensive circle, Kirby really ticked the box for being able to do both. I think she makes our team quite versatile,” she said.

“Claudia… will slot perfectly into the goal attack position, that’s the position we need to fill this year.”

Elliott joins the Bulldogs after playing a crucial role in Riddell’s top of the table finish last season.

The Bombers cruised to a eight win and two loss end of season tally.

Speaking to Star Weekly last year, Riddell coach Adam Boldiston heaped praise on Elliott, describing her as “dominant” in defense and on the wing.

Mawson spent the 2021 season playing up front for the Melbourne University Lightning.

She averaged 18.4 goals a game in her eight matches.

Having already completed team tryouts, Rymer said the squad is focused on finding cohesion.

“It’s a really exciting time for us, when we look at the quality of players across the board, I think we have a number of players in A-reserve that in any other season would be great A-grade players,” she said.

“We want to work on playing as a team. I know the girls are already excited about getting out on court.”

The Bulldogs will welcome back the experience of Emmerson Lakey at centre and Holly Doricic at wing attack.

Rymer said she was also looking forward to seeing the club’s young talent come up and make a contribution in A-grade.

She said former Bulldogs junior player Rylee Connell will be pushing for a spot in attack.

Likely standing in the way of the Bulldogs’ premiership chances this season will be BNL powerhouse clubs Kangaroo Flat and Sandhurst.

Prior to COVID-19 interrupting play Sandhurst had won back-to-back A-grade grand finals, including a six-point defeat of Gisborne in 2018.

“It’s really interesting at the moment, all teams seem to have bolstered their sides and everyone wants to get back to playing strong netball,” Rymer said.

I think it’s likely we won’t just be playing two or three hard games, but more likely five, six or more.”

The Bendigo Netball League is scheduled to begin in April.