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How Lightning lured two of the game's biggest stars

SIGNED, SEALED, DELIVERED: Stephanie Wood and Caitlin Bassett were revealed as the Sunshine Coast Lightning's first players at Sunshine Plaza Yesterday.
SIGNED, SEALED, DELIVERED: Stephanie Wood and Caitlin Bassett were revealed as the Sunshine Coast Lightning's first players at Sunshine Plaza Yesterday. Patrick Woods

NETBALL: Points won't be an issue for Sunshine Coast Lightning in its inaugural season, with the pair tipped to become Australia's permanent goalscoring duo revealed as the new club's first star signings.

Western Australia's Caitlin Bassett and Queenslander Stephanie Wood will make the move to Sippy Downs from the Fever and Swifts respectively when the new-look National Netball League launches early next year.

Led by New Zealand native Noeline Taurua as head coach, the pair will bring plenty of championship experience to the side which will be started from scratch.

While Bassett has already established herself as the most dangerous attacking weapon in the game, Taurua believes the partnership with Wood will take both their games to the next level.

"I believe we are looking at the next permanent Diamonds shooting combination,” she said.

It's a big move for Bassett (118 ANZ Championships games and 68 Diamonds caps) who has been linked to elite netball in Perth since she was 16.

While Wood admits it was tough to leave New South Wales, her experience playing for the Suncoast Lynx for four seasons and having family in Queensland helped sweeten the deal.

"I wouldn't say it was an easy decision. The NSW Swifts did a lot for me. They moulded me into the player I am today,” Wood said.

For Bassett - known by fans as C-Bass - the lure of playing under a coach like Taurua was too good to resist.

"I rang around and had a chat to a few girls who had been coached by (Taurua) before and no-one had a bad word to say, and I think the opportunity to work with her and to see what we can do to change my game and to evolve it is really exciting,” Bassett said.

The recruitment drive will now ramp-up before pre-season training starts on November 1. Assistant coach Kylee Byrne said more player announcements can be expected in the coming weeks.

The former Firebirds assistant was announced as Taurua's right-hand woman earlier this week, to the delight of Wood.

"She's had a massive influence on my career since I was 14,” she said.

Bassett said she was confident Lightning would be competitive, despite sides like the Collingwood-backed franchise signing six international players.

"It's not just names on paper it's about what we do when we're out on court.”


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