By Ant Wingard @AntWingard
As the newest team in the Bond University QAFLW, the Aspley Hornets are ready to make their mark, but the new kids on the block aren’t shying away from the challenge that lies ahead.
The Hornets’ elevation into the QAFLW last Spring came on the back of the club’s commitment to establishing a high-performance environment – something the team is hoping will cement them as genuine contenders at state league level.
Led by seasoned women’s coach Jacob Simmons-Bliss, the Hornets have been operating a high-performance environment since the side’s formation three seasons ago. It’s this ethos that could help smooth the transition from QFAW Division 1.
“We certainly made a commitment in our license bid to be a high-performance female football club and that’s the expectation,” Simmons-Bliss told aflq.com.au.
“It’s a holistic approach in how we are developing our players to play at a higher level. We certainly have made some massive inroads over the last four months.
“We had a lot of the pillars in place within our Division 1 program last year. We basically ran the football club over the last two seasons like it were a QAFLW club.”
The foundations for the Hornet’s QAFLW side were put in place years ago, and little has changed ahead of the club’s biggest season yet in 2019.
From a roster perspective, the Hornets are backing the same group that has carried them this far, hoping their core playing group can propel and sustain the team at QAFLW level.
Only two players from their QFAW Division 1 Premiership team won’s suit up in the brown and gold hoops in 2019, with Harriet Goodman and Maxine Timms both retiring following the game.
The pair, who were among the side’s most experienced players, have left the team due to family and relocation reasons.
But the Hornets have added some new faces, headlined by Wilston Grange premiership captain Courtney Daniec, who joined the club given her close ties to Simmons-Bliss.
Image: Highflyer ImagesDaniec played 70 games for Wilston Grange including the 2018 QAFLW Grand Final win over Coorparoo and offers the complete package on and off the field according to Simmons-Bliss.
“She can provide strong leadership along with a strong football performance. She’s a very mature footballer and is an ultimate professional in the way she prepares for training and games,” he said.
Daniec will join fellow Wilston Grange expat Michaela Campbell, who booted 13 goals in 13 games for Aspley last year.
Apart from Daniec and Campbell, the Hornets will leverage on the club’s strong Youth Girls program as to provide as much as 20 per cent of their QAFLW list.
Ten graduates have emerged from the youth ranks and loom as potential wildcards for the Hornets this year, led by Brisbane Lions Academy member Lucy Pengelly, versatile tall Ainsley Rintala-Apps and two-way midfielder Lara Mason.
On the field, Aspley’s regime centres around one core mantra – competitiveness.
And while the shuffle around the established QAFLW clubs has made it difficult to gauge where the Hornets sit in the pecking order at this point of the year, Simmons-Bliss believes if they can get the competitiveness right, the possibilities are endless.
“We don’t know where everyone else is as because there has been a lot of movement across the offseason, so we don’t know where we will stack up.”
“Certainly, we are confident that we’ll be super competitive and if we do that, we’ll have opportunities to win games of footy.
“If we win enough games, we’ll play finals. We just have to make sure we’re on the right side of those close games and who knows what can happen after that.”
Round 1 of the QAFLW competition commences on April 6 with the Hornets travelling to Giffin Park to take on Coorparoo.
For more details on the Bond University QAFLW visit aflq.com.au/QAFLW
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