Baulkham Hills-born netballer Kristina Brice will return to Sydney to line up for new Giants Netball side for the new Australian National Netball League.
The 22-year old 196cm goal shooter returns after playing for the Adelaide Thunderbirds in 2016.
After playing eight games as an injury replacement in the final season of the ANZ Championship, Brice impressed enough to take out the competition’s best new talent award in 2016.
Brice, who grew up playing for Hassall Grove Netball Club in Mount Druitt, said it was great to be able to come home.
“I always wanted to play in Sydney,” she said.
“With the talent that we have in NSW, we don’t all have the opportunity to play in Sydney, so move away and work on talent and come back when the opportunity arises for NSW.”
Brice’s journey led her to move to Adelaide last season, originally as a training partner for the Thunderbirds.
“Obviously when I first moved to Adelaide, I didn’t expect to get a lot of court time,” she said.
“Then unfortunately, people kept getting injured every week and I thought if I wanted to put myself into a good spot to get myself into a team for next season then when I go out there I need to perform.
“Obviously I did a good job and impressed someone.”
Giants Netball’s inaugural squad has plenty of experience, including Australian internationals Kimberley Green, Kristiana Manu’a and Susan Pettitt and English internationals Jo Harten and Serena Guthrie.
With Harten and Pettitt both able to play goal shooter or goal attack, Brice said she looks forward to competing for a place on the court.
“I personally think that I work better when I have to compete for a spot,” she said.
“It makes me train hard, push myself but it also means that because all the other girls are pushing for the same spot on court, we all train harder, we all push each other so it makes everyone better at the end of the day.”
The squad is rounded out by ANZ Championship veterans Jamie-Lee Price and Sam Poolman as well as youngsters Taylah Davies and Toni Anderson.
Giants Netball will join the new National Netball League alongside newcomers the Collingwood Magpies Netball Club and Sunshine Coast Lightning.
These clubs will join the five Australian ANZ Championship teams - the Adelaide Thunderbirds, Melbourne Vixens, NSW Swifts, Queensland Firebirds and West Coast Fever.
Netball NSW CEO Carolyn Campbell said it was great to have two teams for the local NSW talent.
“The biggest fact for me is that we have so many players that we can actually bring home,” she said.
“With the extra team, it has allowed us to bring a lot more players through the program and be given that opportunity.”
Giants Netball is partnering with the GWS Giants and hopes to take two games to the ACT to help the development in the territory.
In Sydney, Campbell said both the Giants and the Swifts would be active in the area “because netball isn’t competing against netball.”
“Some of our biggest associations are Baulkham Hills, Hills, Liverpool, Penrith and to me they’re all ripe to get a team to call their own,” Campbell said.
“We’re not splitting the state like the AFL do because I don’t think there is any need to.
“People will vote with their heart on that and by virtue of the team we’ve assembled and how good they are.”
The inaugural National Netball League will start in February 2017.