The Firebirds' Mahalia Cassidy and the Vixens' Kate Moloney compete for possession in the opening round clash between their teams. Picture: Scott Barbour/Getty Images
The Firebirds' Mahalia Cassidy and the Vixens' Kate Moloney compete for possession in the opening round clash between their teams. Picture: Scott Barbour/Getty Images

Firebird Cassidy steeled for fiery derby battle

RENOWNED for her toughness, Queensland Firebirds midcourter Mahalia Cassidy relishes the heat of battle.

Super Netball teams are continually upping the ante when it comes to their attack on the ball. Cut lips and bruised bodies are all part of the modern game.

"Oh, it's physical," said Cassidy, who suffered a head knock during a recent practice match.

"You've seen that in the first couple of rounds and preseason. It's a tough sport.

"We'll come out and fight hard for the win, fight hard for our team. It's great competition. We thrive on it. We love it.

"It's the way the game is going ... it's athletic and it's fierce.

"It's nothing personal. It's purely the competitiveness of wanting to get the ball ... there's nothing malicious behind it."

Suffice to say, tomorrow's Sunshine State stoush at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre could have more than its fair share of blood, sweat and tears.

Cassidy says clashes with the Lightning are
Cassidy says clashes with the Lightning are "a bit more than just another game". Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

Cassidy is close friends with several of the Sunshine Coast Lightning girls she's played alongside in Queensland representative teams, including Cara Koenen, Steph Wood, Maddi McAuliffe and Laura Scherian.

"It's pretty cool to be able to see them step up to the next level as well and playing them on such a big stage," Cassidy said.

Friendships will most certainly be cast aside for 60 minutes of ferocious netball as two fierce rival teams go to war.

The Lightning have won the past two clashes between the teams, each by a point, the most recent in last year's cutthroat semi-final.

"It's probably a bit more than just another game," Cassidy admitted. "It's always very special.

"They've been very successful the last two years (winning back-to-back titles). And we have a rich history here at the Firebirds.

"There's a bit of feeling. It's a game that I really look forward to and love being a part of."

Cassidy, now 23 and part of the Firebirds' leadership group, will match up on Kiwi superstar centre Laura Langman.

The Lightning's Laura Langman, centre, shapes as a difficult opponent for Cassidy. Picture: Gary Day/AAP
The Lightning's Laura Langman, centre, shapes as a difficult opponent for Cassidy. Picture: Gary Day/AAP

"She's a phenomenal athlete, a legend of the game," Cassidy said of the two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist who was instrumental in the Lightning's big win over the Fever last week.

"It's pretty surreal to be able to come up against such a quality player. I'm really excited about the challenge.

"I don't let it get to my head. It's just about playing my game, sticking to our game plan and, at the end of the day, not thinking too much about her ... and how good she is."

Following the Firebirds' first-round loss to the Vixens, Cassidy was outstanding in last week's 57-all draw with the Magpies - recording 29 feeds and 17 assists to upstage national player Kim Ravaillion.

"I was really disappointed with how I played in the first round - I felt like I had a really great preseason," Cassidy said.

"It was nice to be able to step up and play better."

Aside from bragging rights, a win tomorrow for either side is pivotal to their season.

"You've got to play for a whole 60 minutes to come away with the win," Cassidy said.

"Obviously we didn't quite do that last week. We dropped away a little bit in that third quarter. Being able to come away with a draw was bittersweet."

Now settled at the Queensland State Netball Centre, the Firebirds return to their old stomping ground as the visitors.

"There's been some incredible matches at Boondall," Cassidy said. "We have some fond memories there. It will be interesting to see how it feels not being our home game."

News Corp Australia


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