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  • Rikki Lambert

Swifts' Wagga nod as decimated Giants denied T-Birds delay

Fawns warmed up but was not called into the Swifts' 2-goal Saturday loss to the Giants

Wagga's rising star Sophie Fawns gets her first crack at the big time this weekend whilst rivals the Giants could be without half of their 18-person Super Netball squad when they take on the Adelaide Thunderbirds on Sunday.

The Giants have had their bid to reschedule Sunday's Super Netball clash with the Adelaide Thunderbirds rejected despite the squad being ravaged by COVID-19.

Wagga Wagga's Sophie Fawns has been called into the Swifts’ match-day squad for the Premiers’ Round 2 Suncorp Super Netball clash with the Melbourne Vixens. Rated one of the brightest up-and-coming talents in Australian netball, Fawns has come through the Netball NSW pathway and the QBE Swifts Academy.

The 18-year-old attacker, who was made a Swifts Training Partner in 2022, has been named as a temporary replacement player for Club stalwart Sam Wallace who will miss the remainder of the season due to an ACL injury which she suffered in last week’s narrow loss to the Giants.

Swifts head coach Briony Akle said Fawns was a fantastic prospect and fully deserving of her shot at the elite level. “It has been a pretty crazy week, losing Sam and the emotions that go with that, however, Sophie has trained really well with the team. “Sophie was actually called into our team last week when we lost a player due to COVID exposure, and while she didn’t get on the court, I think the whole experience was great for her and now she has an idea of what to expect.

The Swifts play the Melbourne Vixens at Ken Rosewall Arena on Saturday at 5pm (AET).

Grand finalists in 2021, the Giants currently have six COVID-positive players unavailable for the match, while a further two players who missed last week's match with the virus are yet to be medically cleared.

Of the 10 remaining players in the squad, April Brandley was only medically cleared to play half of round one's win against the NSW Swifts after managing an Achilles injury in the pre-season, while two training partners are managing injuries.

Under Super Netball's COVID protocols, the league said it would consider a team's request to reschedule a match if five or more squad members were impacted by COVID-19.

But the Giants' pleas to reschedule the match with the Thunderbirds have fallen on deaf ears despite meeting that threshold.

Of the Giants' squad of 18, contracted players Sophie Dwyer, Jamie-Lee Price and Amy Parmenter have been ruled out of Sunday's match with COVID-19, along with training partners Jemma Donoghue, Eliza Burton and Nat Sligar.

Amy Sligar, who missed the round-one match against the Swifts, returned to training with the team on Thursday for the first time since leaving isolation but is yet to be medically cleared to play.

Lauren Moore, who also missed round one, will come out of isolation three days before Sunday's match. Under the protocols, Moore is unable to re-join the team environment until Saturday. Giants executive general manager Tim Underwood said:

"This is an incredibly challenging situation for our club but as we know with COVID, we need to adapt.
"We have continued to face COVID disruptions over the past 24 months and we've shown a strong ability to adapt to any challenge thrown our way. 
"I can assure our members and fans that the players who travel to Adelaide for Sunday's match will stand united and wear the orange dress with pride." 

After a team has exhausted players from their own squads, they have access to a COVID supplementary player list from other teams and states to top up as required. 

Netball Australia CEO Kelly Ryan said the league considered a number of factors before declining the Giants' postponement request including the availability and depth of replacement players:

"The GIANTS have a list of 18 athletes, and we acknowledge and appreciate their work to secure replacement players to allow this match to proceed.
"The league will consider all requests to reschedule a match on a case-by-case basis and we will continue to monitor the Giants situation this week."


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