Thunderbirds shoot for glory with final three signings

The Adelaide Thunderbirds will have a new-look shooting line up for 2018 Suncorp Super Netball, naming former New Zealand international Cathrine Tuivaiti, local emerging star Sasha Glasgow and Queensland junior Abigail Latu-Meafou as their final signings for the upcoming season.

Dynamic former Samoan and New Zealand international Cathrine Tuivaiti (nee Latu) has rediscovered her best form this year playing for the ANZ Premiership finalist, Central Pulse, finishing the season with the highest shooting percentage in the league at 95% and ranked third for goals scored. A fierce competitor, Tuivaiti will add firepower to the Thunderbirds’ attack and a strong target under the post.

It is Tuivaiti’s ability to create play and move the ball with speed that has Dan Ryan excited about what she can bring to the team.

“I’ve always loved the passion and fire that Cat has brought to the game. She is one of the most crafty and cunning players going around and I think she’s going to be an absolute weapon for us in the goal circle,” said Ryan.

“She’s incredibly strong and easy to find on the hold, so explosive and deceptive on the move and deadly accurate on the shot. She’s got it all and I’m sure the Thunderbirds fans are going to love watching her play.”

Hailing from Moonta Bay on South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula, Australia 21/U player Sasha Glasgow has had a break-out year in 2017 as she progressed from a Thunderbirds training partner to a spot in the starting seven. Named by Australian coach Lisa Alexander as one of the most exciting emerging players in the inaugural Suncorp Super Netball season, Sasha made an instant impression with her athleticism, calmness under pressure and confidence to turn to the post.

Ryan is looking forward to seeing Glasgow take another leap forward in 2017.

“Sasha was one of the shining lights from last season. For someone so young and new to this level, she’s incredibly mature and grounded and has all the right attributes to be successful at the elite level,” said Ryan.

“She’s a pleasure to coach and I just love the way she goes about her business. She’s such a talent and a big part of our plans not only next season but well into the future.”

Powerful emerging shooter Abigail Latu-Meafou was a member of the 2017 Queensland Firebirds side and showed what she was capable of when she made a stunning debut against the Adelaide Thunderbirds at Titanium Arena this season, scoring 28 goals and pulling in four rebounds.

She had her first opportunity at this level when she was a late addition to the New Zealand-based Northern Mystics squad in the 2016 ANZ Championship season, where she partnered with fellow Thunderbirds recruit, Cathrine Tuivaiti.

Tuivaiti, Glasgow and Latu-Meafou all bring distinctly unique styles to the side and, combined with fellow recruit Kaitlyn Bryce, Ryan is excited about the variety of shooting combinations he now has at his disposal.

“Abi brings a whole new dimension to the shooting end. She’s very clever and can really play the role of the general out the front as well as attack the post with conviction inside the circle,” said Ryan.

“She’s left-handed, silky-skilled and very strong and robust, so I’m looking forward to seeing how she slots into our new-look attack line. She has a lot of untapped potential and I’m looking forward to working with her.”

The Adelaide Thunderbirds have unveiled a significantly different looking team for 2018, with seven new players announced over the last few days. Ryan is excited to finally see the team come together after a lot of careful planning.

“We’ve been very strategic in the recruitment of the team for 2018 to ensure we have achieved the right balance for now and into the future. We have a nice blend of senior internationals, established talent and emerging next generation athletes,” said Ryan.

“The time was right to have a fresh start and begin somewhat of a rebuild as we look to move forward and achieve sustainable success once again.”

“I’m really excited by the firepower and talent in the team but more so the growth potential of the group. This team has vision, it has direction and with some serious hard work on and off the court, I believe we will be a team not to be underestimated.”

The club is in discussions with Jane Cook and Emily Burgess who were contracted athletes this season, as well as 2017 training partners Gia Abernethy and Charlee Hodges, and will finalise their involvement in the 2018 program in due course.

Please note: Tuivaiti suffered a knee injury in her last game with Central Pulse during Friday night’s New Zealand Super Club competition. We’re awaiting results of a scan to determine the extent of the injury and will provide an update shortly.

FINAL ADELAIDE THUNDERBIRDS TEAM 2018
Kaitlyn Bryce
Leana de Bruin
Sasha Glasgow
Abigail Latu-Meafou
Bongiwe Msomi
Hannah Petty
Chelsea Pitman
Kate Shimmin
Fiona Themann
Cathrine Tuivaiti