Manly Warringah Sapphires have enjoyed a rampaging start to the inaugural Samsung Premier League season, with their Opens side sitting atop their division ladder undefeated after the first seven rounds.
Traditionally, the introduction of a new competition can bring a little of the unknown; however, Sapphires Head Coach Jen Wright said her side’s early success is down to meticulous preparation.
“We started pre-season right back in October last year and the girls worked extremely hard to get to know each other and gel on the court, because we had a new team and conditioning was so important,” she said.
“Because it’s a new competition we really had no idea what to expect when we came up against the other seven franchises. But knowing we had such a fantastic pre-season it made me very confident in the girls, [however you] never know what happens until you start playing.”
While the undefeated Sapphires have been working extremely hard on the court, the coaches have also enjoyed working on their own skills with some assistance from three mentors; one of which is the most successful Australian Head Coach in history, Jill McIntosh.
“We are so lucky to have Jill McIntosh, Mo’onia Gerrard and Annie [Sargeant, OAM] mentoring [all] the Sapphires coaches. It’s fantastic for the players and for [the coaches] to have access to such a wealth of knowledge,” Wright said.
“I like to call Jill the oracle; she has just given me so much support and the other coaches as well and continually given us that feedback to help us work on our coaching.”
While McIntosh has been taking the players through some sessions of her own, Wright says the expertise of Gerrard and Sargeant have also helped
“Being able to turn to the mentors and receive constructive feedback or know that I am on the right track is so important, and I think that has definitely helped with the season so far,” Wright added.
“With Annie being a Manly Warringah legend, her insight and experience from a National level has been substantial and she takes us through all the ins and outs of the game. Then we have Mo’onia who is just fantastic – she is such an inspiration and she brings such a great quality of coaching to the team.”
Despite their impressive start, Wright reminds herself and the team that there is still a long way to go in the competition and each week is a new experience.
“We have really been focusing on sticking to playing our own game each week and so far it has worked really well. We are aware that it is only early, but it has been a fantastic start but there is still a long way to go and we are looking forward to it.
“It is nice to see that the pre-season work has been paying off.”
BarTV Sports will live stream all the action from the Show Court when Central Coast Heart and GWS Fury meet – click here to view Opens Live Streaming and Under 20s Live Streaming. You can also view previous weeks’ games and highlights.