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Netball - 28. February 2012.

ANZ returns after 9 months

After nine months of preparations, the five Australian based franchises
are set to contest the ANZ Championship pre-season tournament at TECT
Arena, Tauranga, New Zealand from 2-4 March 2012.

It's been 40 weeks since the Queensland Firebirds were crowned ANZ
Championship premiers with a 57-44 victory over the Northern Mystics on
Sunday 22 May 2011 in the conclusion to an abbreviated season that
recognised the demands of the 2011 World Netball Championship in
Singapore.

The pre-season tournament will bring all ten franchises together for the
first time since the inception of the competition in 2008 with a weekend
of fixtures.

"We've been training for a bit over a month now and it seems like we've
been training for a long time," Firebirds coach Roselee Jencke said.

"We're really excited to firstly go to New Zealand next week and see
everybody else, how all the other teams are shaping up and get a touch
on everybody.

"It's only four weeks until we start (with Round One of the ANZ
Championship) so we're really looking forward to the start of the
season."

The pre-season mission is simple for Jencke, who has made minimal
changes to her Firebirds squad following last year's undefeated season
with only two new faces in the team following the departures of Jacqui
Russell and Clare McMeniman (retirement).

Debutants Shannon Eagland, an Australian 21/U representative, and local
player Jacinta Messer will fill the two vacant positions to complete the
team of twelve.

"We've got the same objective as everybody else (for the pre-season
tournament): to be able to put out different combinations on court and
get a feel of our opposition teams," Jencke said.

"That's everybody's objective at this time of the season."

The Firebirds, on an ANZ Championship record breaking 15-game winning
streak, confirmed that captain Lauren Nourse is expected to be available
for their Round One fixture against the Melbourne Vixens.

Nourse, returning from a torn ACL sustained in round nine last year,
will take to the court in next weekend's pre-season tournament.

"She'll be back for the start of the season and playing next week,"
Jencke said.

"She's already playing and looking good so she's right where she needs
to be, scheduled to play in our first game against the Vixens."

The Brisbane based franchise has been drawn in Pool A for the pre-season
tournament alongside the First Windows and Doors Waikato-BOP Magic,
Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel, NSW Swifts and West Coast Fever. The LG
Northern Mystics, Haier Pulse, Adelaide Thunderbirds, Melbourne Vixens
and Easiyo Tactix make up Pool B.

Competition begins at the new TECT Arena in Tauranga on Friday March 2.



ANZ Championship 2012 season:

The 2012 ANZ Championship season commences on Sunday 31 March.

Please click on the following link to view the 2012 ANZ Championship
Media Guide Flip Book http://anz-championship-mediaguide.com/

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