Beck O'Connell catches up with seven-time Tallangatta League premiership netballer and Thurgoona coach Kristie McInnes ahead of the grand final this weekend between the Bulldogs and Kiewa Sandy-Creek.
BO'C: Congratulations on making it into the grand final. You've had an incredible year, what have been some of the highlights?
KM: We've had our ups and downs with a few injuries throughout the year. I think the greatest thing about the feeling around the club at the moment is that we're hitting our stride at the right end of the season. We really started playing fantastic netball with three or four weeks left in the season. We were playing quality netball that we could get excited about.
BO'C: Who have been some of the standout players that have stepped up in the last couple of weeks?
KM: All year we've had our captain Kristen Andrews steady the ship each week. She leads the team so well and her guidance and positivity on the court is second to none. Meagan Tschirpig is a machine in defence. She serves the ball back time and time again. You can really rely on her in tough games. Katie Kotzur is probably one of the players that has stood out more in the last half of the season. Her long arms just manage to pull balls in from everywhere.
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BO'C: What are some of the experiences you've brought to the role in your first season as Thurgoona's coach?
KM: This is my tenth year at Thurgoona but first year as coach. I coached Yackandandah when we won three in a row in 2005, 2006 and 2007. I've had a knee reconstruction in the meantime, but I've been at Thurgoona for 10 years now. I've been around the club mostly under other coaches, but I just decided to take over the roll this year.
BO'C: Thurgoona as a club are no strangers to success. What are some of the things you've been saying over the last few weeks to keep the team composed heading into the grand final this weekend?
KM: I think the big message going through the club at the moment is just to feel the love. To get around each other.
BO'C: You're going up against Kiewa Sandy-Creek who have obviously had a great season as well. What are some of the things you're going to focus on to help you get over the line?
KM: We're aware that Kiewa are stronger across the court than teams we've come up against during the year. We definitely recognise that Haylee Penny is a massive target in goals and we see Ellen Cook as quite dangerous in defence as well. But their midcourt is also quite strong. We're aware that we have to be on and every position on the court has to do their part to get the win on Saturday.
McInnes played in Thurgoona's four consecutive A-grade premierships from 2013-2016 as the side's wing defence.