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O’Connor can’t wait for ANL season opener

Georgia Clayden, Shannon O’Connor, and Leigh Kalsbeek are the ACT representatives in the Canberra Giants this season. Photo: Rohan ThomsonSaturday night can’t come soon enough for Canberra Giants defender Shannon O’Connor.

The pre-season has gone on long enough for the 27-year-old who makes a return to the n Netball League in Sydney on Saturday night after a three-year hiatus

The Giants kick off their campaign with a two-game series against the NSW Waratahs this weekend with the second match to be played on Sunday.

“I’m just itching to get out and play. I’ve never been a fan of training, I show up and do what I have to do but the passion burns inside to be out there playing,” O’Connor said.

O’Connor is one of three Canberrans playing for the Giants in their inaugural season, with Georgia Clayden and Leigh Kalsbeek also gaining selection in the joint Netball ACT-Netball NSW venture.

“I wanted to come back because it’s a brand new competition this year, but having been away from the comp for a while it did take a lot of convincing,” O’Connor said.

“The commitment to training meant I was missing a fair bit of work, which is the sacrifice we make as ACT players, but it’s only an eight-week comp, not six months, so I decided to give it a crack.

“None of us are paid, we have to take leave to travel to Sydney and I know Georgia is juggling uni. We only play at this level because it’s fun and we enjoy the game.”

O’Connor added the squad is one of the closest she has been a part of and co-coach Sharyn Hill said her players were looking forward playing together for the first time.

“It will be a good test first-up but after a tough pre-season the girls are really excited about hitting the court for the first time,” Hill said.

“This is a new-look side who have trained really hard in pre-season and bonded well together.

“Obviously the side will get better as the season progresses but our expectations heading into the season are high. We want to play finals and be there at the business end of the season.”

The ANL is a feeder competition for the new Suncorp Super Netball national competition, with coaches keeping a watchful eye on young talent coming through the ranks.

The revised ANL format will see eight teams compete over seven rounds, with the Giants to play two games in Canberra on March 18 and 19.

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