live Infotainment Factory: The Swifts star that must lift in Grand Final

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Thursday, 12 September 2019

The Swifts star that must lift in Grand Final


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The NSW Swifts' recent history against the Sunshine Coast Lightning doesn't make for pretty reading ahead of this year's Grand Final match-up.

Briony Akle's side has lost six of its past seven meetings with the two-time defending champions, including the major semi-final a fortnight ago.

If they are to string a major upset, Swifts legend Cath Cox says captain Paige Hadley will have to have a major say in proceedings.

"It's a very good game for match-ups, but I think the match-up of the two captains is vital," Cox told Wide World of Sports.

"In the last meeting, Paige Hadley got schooled. Laura Langman absolutely dominated and Paige was nowhere to be seen.

"She was the MVP last weekend, so you hope she has a good look at that game and will turn that around. To me, whoever wins that battle will help their team win the game."

Paige Hadley Laura Langman

The run to the Grand Final from last year's sixth-placed finish is a tremendous result for Akle, and Cox praised her former teammate.

According to Cox, Akle's ability to compartmentalise her netball life as well as her off-court life is a major hallmark for her success.

"When we talk about the great coaches in our game the ones that always get mentioned are Julie Fitzgerald, Noeline Taurua and Briony (Akle)," she said.

"They are people with families and they're busy working mums who completely understand that it's not all about netball.

"She's obviously very passionate about what she does but very relaxed about having a life outside of what you do.

"The players really respond to that and you can see they're responding to that in the way that they're performing for her this year."

Briony Akle Paige Hadley

Cox also credited Akle's keenness to learn from foreign codes as a major reason for her success.

"I know that Briony doesn't think she knows everything," she said.

"She's very open to other ways of doing things and other people's perspectives which is why she's had the girls talking to Brad Fittler.

"She often goes and meets with other sports codes and their coaches to get a different taste and a different perspective on stuff. That's why she will forever be a great coach."

Last time these two sides met, the Lightning showcased their championship DNA, dispatching the Swifts 58-48, but Cox is optimistic that the Swifts can close the gap.

"I look at that game and Maddy Turner, Paige Hadley, Helen Housby and Sam Wallace did not have good games," she said.

"You have to think that surely you're not going to have four of your starting seven have a bad game all at once again.

NSW Swifts

"We saw how good they were in (the preliminary final) and they're all playing really well now."

However, there is one worrying trend that could hit the Swifts in the week where they can ill-afford it.

"My worry is that this season when teams have been under the pump to win, they've done that, but then they've suffered the following week," Cox said.

"It happened to the Vixens, it happened to the Magpies and potentially will happen to the Swifts as well.

"That's my concern, whether they can back up from a massive win last week."

Noeline Taurua

For the Lightning, the stakes are slightly higher than their previous Grand Finals, with the three-peat on the line, as well as coach Noeline Taurua's farewell.

However, Cox isn't expecting the veteran side to become sidetracked or overawed by what is ahead of them.

"Noeline will be all over that and the experienced heads will be all over it," she said.

"Laura Langman doesn't care much for accolades and milestones and that kind of thing, she gets on and does her job no matter what.

"Noeline will know that people will be getting emotional about her leaving because she's such a well-respected coach.

"She'll have them doing what they normally do and what they've been doing all season."

The NSW Swifts' recent history against the Sunshine Coast Lightning doesn't make for pretty reading ahead of this year's Grand Final match-up.

Briony Akle's side has lost six of its past seven meetings with the two-time defending champions, including the major semi-final a fortnight ago.

If they are to string a major upset, Swifts legend Cath Cox says captain Paige Hadley will have to have a major say in proceedings.

"It's a very good game for match-ups, but I think the match-up of the two captains is vital," Cox told Wide World of Sports.

"In the last meeting, Paige Hadley got schooled. Laura Langman absolutely dominated and Paige was nowhere to be seen.

"She was the MVP last weekend, so you hope she has a good look at that game and will turn that around. To me, whoever wins that battle will help their team win the game."

Paige Hadley Laura Langman

The run to the Grand Final from last year's sixth-placed finish is a tremendous result for Akle, and Cox praised her former teammate.

According to Cox, Akle's ability to compartmentalise her netball life as well as her off-court life is a major hallmark for her success.

"When we talk about the great coaches in our game the ones that always get mentioned are Julie Fitzgerald, Noeline Taurua and Briony (Akle)," she said.

"They are people with families and they're busy working mums who completely understand that it's not all about netball.

"She's obviously very passionate about what she does but very relaxed about having a life outside of what you do.

"The players really respond to that and you can see they're responding to that in the way that they're performing for her this year."

Briony Akle Paige Hadley

Cox also credited Akle's keenness to learn from foreign codes as a major reason for her success.

"I know that Briony doesn't think she knows everything," she said.

"She's very open to other ways of doing things and other people's perspectives which is why she's had the girls talking to Brad Fittler.

"She often goes and meets with other sports codes and their coaches to get a different taste and a different perspective on stuff. That's why she will forever be a great coach."

Last time these two sides met, the Lightning showcased their championship DNA, dispatching the Swifts 58-48, but Cox is optimistic that the Swifts can close the gap.

"I look at that game and Maddy Turner, Paige Hadley, Helen Housby and Sam Wallace did not have good games," she said.

"You have to think that surely you're not going to have four of your starting seven have a bad game all at once again.

NSW Swifts

"We saw how good they were in (the preliminary final) and they're all playing really well now."

However, there is one worrying trend that could hit the Swifts in the week where they can ill-afford it.

"My worry is that this season when teams have been under the pump to win, they've done that, but then they've suffered the following week," Cox said.

"It happened to the Vixens, it happened to the Magpies and potentially will happen to the Swifts as well.

"That's my concern, whether they can back up from a massive win last week."

Noeline Taurua

For the Lightning, the stakes are slightly higher than their previous Grand Finals, with the three-peat on the line, as well as coach Noeline Taurua's farewell.

However, Cox isn't expecting the veteran side to become sidetracked or overawed by what is ahead of them.

"Noeline will be all over that and the experienced heads will be all over it," she said.

"Laura Langman doesn't care much for accolades and milestones and that kind of thing, she gets on and does her job no matter what.

"Noeline will know that people will be getting emotional about her leaving because she's such a well-respected coach.

"She'll have them doing what they normally do and what they've been doing all season."

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