NETBALL: Sunshine Coast Lightning's attacking trio is looking set to be an "unstoppable” force in the upcoming Suncorp Super Netball season, according to assistant coach Kylee Byrne.
Recent performances on the international stage from Caitlin Bassett and Stephanie Wood have only buoyed Byrne's hopes of a dominant year on court.
Bassett and Wood combined forces to propel the Australian Diamonds to a 50-46 victory over the England Roses in the Quad Series yesterday morning.
"I straight away thought about our season and what's coming up for us and considering they had only maybe half a season together this combination is still growing and developing and I can't wait to see what the two of them are going to do (this year),” Byrne said.
"I still think they have got so much more to go, every single time they step out on the training court they're still working each other out and hopefully we have got a few more months to get that combination sorted and they're going to be pretty unstoppable, which is fantastic.”
Byrne was so impressed with Wood's efforts she labelled her a highly likely Commonwealth Games prospect.
"(It was an) absolute difference from the first Test to the second Test with Steph Wood on the court and you'd have to say she has got her foot on the bus to the Gold Coast for the Commonwealth Games,” she said.
"She just opened space, she created and balanced the attack end and just put up shots so she was outstanding today.''
While having that international experience was valuable for the Lightning, Byrne believed the addition of Cara Koenen only enhanced the Coast outfit's attacking game.
"If you look at Steph, Caitlin and Cara we've got the perfect shooting combination because Cara is so mobile and tall,''Byrne said.
"Bass does her job and Steph does her job so if we have to put Cara on at any stage she is going to mess with the defenders' heads which is fantastic.”
Byrne said Koenen would have to step up in pre-season preparations while Bassett and Wood were on international duties.
"Her off-season has been amazing and she is injury-free for the first time in a while and her confidence is at a real high,” she said.
"She'll get a lot of time during the pre-season games, particularly over in New Zealand, and what she does on the court is going to be really important.”
Koenen, the youngest player in the squad last year, said it had been a big "learning curve” balancing sport and study.
Now entering her second year, she was confident of challenging Wood and Bassett for more court time.
"We don't want to have a clear cut starting seven, we want everyone to be pushing for that spot and it's only making those girls better having that pressure coming from off-court as well,” Koenen said.
"We all work really hard and I'm obviously learning a lot off those two girls because at the moment they are both looking like the best shooting combination in the world.”
Koenen said she had been focusing on expanding her game in the pre-season in a bid to become more versatile.
"I'm looking at broadening my horizons a little bit and moving across a little bit into wing attack which gives me a good opportunity to develop my netball game, working with the combinations with the girls that we have left,” she said.