Our Sporting Life SA

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Thunderbirds are GO!

Image Peter Argent/OSLSA

A new look Adelaide Thunderbirds will open their 2015 ANZ Championship season against Waikato Bay Of Plenty Magic today at Netball SA Stadium. The Thunderbirds will unveil three new players, West Coast Fever and English import Eboni Beckford-Chambers, former Melbourne Vixens Amy Steel and 17 year old Hannah Petty. Adelaide's vice captain Leigh Waddington is ready to make her return to the team for the first time since injuring her knee back in round four last season, but she expects to be eased back into the action by coach Jane Woodlands-Thompson. "The coaches have been very wise with my load during pre season and I am sure they will continue to do so through the start of the season," Waddington told Our Sporting Life SA. "I am ready for what ever the coaching staff decide to do come match day and am just happy to be out there wearing the pink dress again." Although Waddington admits she lacks match fitness due to her limited game time throughout the pre-season, her dedicated approach to her rehabilitation has put her in a great position for her come back within 12 months. "I feel very strong, fast and agile," Waddington said. "My match fitness is definitely not where it was at this time last year due to not playing many scratch matches, but I'm hoping this will come quite quickly." New Australian Citizen Carla Borrego will play her first match as an 'Aussie' and she will be keen to showcase her best form as selection for the Netball World Cup fast approaches. The Thunderbirds opponent Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic have had a confidence boost since their win-less pre season tournament winning both their matches against Fiji by 36 and 34 goals. The Magic wont be at full strength today with star defender and captain Casey Kopua still recovering from a knee injury. Kopua's injury has placed added pressure on acting captain Leana de Bruin in their defence end with youngsters Aisha Bower and Kristiana Manu'a in line to assist de Bruin. "Kopua and De Bruin have had an amazing partnership in the defensive end for many years so of course not having to face them together will be something different," Waddington explained. "Sometimes the unknown is just as hard to come up against. "I have no doubt that our attacking end are ready for anything they throw at us." Making her debut for the Thunderbirds will be English import Eboni Beckford-Chambers and she will likely come up against her English team mate goal shooter Jo Harten. Harten is a class act, she was a joint winner of the last season's ANZ Championship Most Valuable Player and Beckford-Chambers has a tough first up assignment. The midcourt will be a battle of the youngsters with Magic's Courtney Tairi and Grace Rasmussen up against Maddy Proud and Renae Hallinan. Yesterday Adelaide included 17 year old Hannah Petty into their squad as a temporary replacement player for new Queensland Firebirds recruit Nicola Gray as she recovers from a foot injury. "Hannah showed that she has all the attributes to be a top player when she took on some of the best mid-courters in the game during the Summer Shootout," Thunderbirds coach Jane Woodlands-Thompson said. "It's another exciting opportunity to showcase some local talent in front of a home crowd." ‪#‎FLYTOGETHER15‬

LIKELY MATCH UP - GS- Carla Borrego v GK- Leana de Bruin GA- Erin Bell v GD- Jo Trip WA- Emily Beaton/Hannah Petty v WD- Sam Sinclair/Jamie Lee-Price C- Maddy Proud v C- Courtney Tairi WD- Renae Hallinan v WA- Grace Rasmussen GD- Kate Shimmin - GA- Malia Paseka/Ellen Halpenny GK- Eboni Beckford-Chambers v GS- Jo Harten

Images: Andrew Frackowski/Peter Argent - Copyright Our Sporting Life SA