Adelaide Thunderbirds invest in local talent

Emily Burgess, Charlee Hodges and Gia Abernethy return as familiar faces to the Adelaide Thunderbirds squad as Training Partners for the 2018 Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) season.

Five upcoming South Australian netballers have been announced as the 2018 Adelaide Thunderbirds Training Partners.

Gia Abernethy, Charlee Hodges and Emily Burgess return as familiar faces to the Adelaide Thunderbirds squad as Training Partners for the 2018 Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) season.

New to the squad are 16-year-old defender Chelsea Blackman and goal shooter Chelsea Lemke.

In making the announcements, Adelaide Thunderbirds Head Coach Dan Ryan, highlighted the importance of the club’s training program to invest in upcoming local talent who are eager to take the next step.

“All five players have been identified to have the potential at SSN level and become contracted athletes in the future and that’s the purpose of the program,” Ryan said.

‘’Gia, Charlee and Emily all had a taste of the competition last season and they now know firsthand what it takes to compete at this level. It’s enabled them to gain great clarity on what they need to do to stay there consistently.

‘’It’s really exciting to have them back in our environment and to continue challenging them to see how much they can grow over the next season.”

At 16 years of age, Ryan said Chelsea Blackman is an exciting young prospect, possessing great qualities and attributes of an emerging athlete.

“She’s developed consistently well over the course of the year and really held her own when she had opportunities in the Australian Netball League,” he said.

‘’She was an absolute game changer for Contax in their Nine News Netball Cup Premier Division Grand Final win and from what we’ve seen, I think she’ll absolutely thrive in the Adelaide Thunderbirds environment.’’

Chelsea Lemke, who also played for Contax in the Nine News Netball Cup Grand Final, ruptured her ACL in the game against Matrics in September.

“It was heartbreaking to see her go down, she was returning to some terrific form after several injuries over the past 12 months, but these things happen in elite sport and we will be supporting her in her recovery every step of the way,” Ryan said.

In further news on the Adelaide Thunderbirds injury front, 19-year-old Jamaica shooter, Shimona Nelson also joins the squad as a replacement player for Cat Tuivaiti, while she continues her recovery from a knee reconstruction.

Adelaide Thunderbirds will officially begin their 2018 pre-season in November in preparation for the SSN season to commence in late-April, following the Commonwealth Games.