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Avatar photoIan Harkin
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    Sydney Morning Herald

    The Sydney Tigers go into their first Esso SuperLeague netball game tonight billed as the strongest side in the national league and with the added advantage of having former NSW and Australian captain Anne Sargeant as their coach.

    It is Sargeant’s first non-playing coaching position since retiring from competition last year. She admits to being a “touch nervous” about tonight’s game, in which the Tigers face the Doncaster Kea’s, one of the toughest teams in the competition, in the first round in Melbourne.

    “I’m nervous but that is not such a bad thing,” she said yesterday. “I’m really pleased with the way the players have been shaping up. We’re being billed as the star team but there is a danger in that. This is sudden-death competition. You have to go in hard and play hard to get the points.”

    The Esso SuperLeague is the first major competition on the netball calendar and features the top teams from NSW, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and the Australian Institute of Sport. They will play three preliminary rounds with the final scheduled for April 16.

    On paper, the Sydney Tigers boast the strongest line-up of all the States with five members from the Australian team selected last week for the coming Milo Cup against New Zealand next month and the Johnson & Johnson Cup against the West Indies in May.

    The Tigers’ vice-captain, Keeley Devery, returns to the national team after full knee reconstruction surgery which kept her off court for a year.

    After four weeks of hard training with the Tigers, Devery said the squad of 12 was keen to take the court against Doncaster, the side she predicted the Tigers would face again in the final.

    “We’re a highly competitive side,” she said. “With Anne coaching us we have a great advantage.”

    Following the match with Doncaster tonight the Tigers will meet the Brisbane KQ’s tomorrow. Their first match in Sydney will be on April 1 against the Perth City Royals.

    The Tigers team is: Sue Kenny (c), Keeley Devery (v-c), Nicole Cusack, Lisa Wilson, Deborah Curry, Carissa Dalwood, Kellianne Ruddy, Catriona Wagg, Cheryl McCormack, Wendy Etherington, Kate Englert, Maxine Peebles.

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