Lightning players celebrate their win in the Super Netball grand final over the Giants in June.
Lightning players celebrate their win in the Super Netball grand final over the Giants in June. GLENN HUNT

Perfect start for Sunshine Coast Lightning, says coach

SUNSHINE Coast Lightning coach Noeline Taurua says there is no better way to start the club's Super Netball title defence in 2018 than with a grand final rematch against the GWS Giants.

In their first season, the Lightning emphatically claimed the crown as the world's best domestic netball side with a 65-48 victory over GWS in this year's decider at Boondall on June 17.

Their bid for back-to-back titles has been delayed with the second season of the revamped league pushed back to start after April's Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.

The Sunshine Coast will eventually open their campaign on Sunday, April 29, when they go head-to-head with the Giants at Sydney's Qudos Bank Arena as part of a double-header that also includes Laura Geitz's comeback to the Firebirds.

"We need to prepare well in the pre-season and be ready to hit the ground running when we take on the Giants," Taurua said.

"The calibre of players in Julie's (Fitzgerald) squad cannot be underestimated and they will be ready and raring to go in Round 1."

Taurua said the Lightning - which has retained the entire title-winning 2017 squad for next year's tilt - needed to get used to being the hunted, not the hunters in 2018.

"The target is now on our back and we need to be hungry for success," she said.

"Only time will tell if we can get the balance right and live up to our standards of 2017.

"Every week will provide a unique challenge and the quality of opposition will mean we will need to adapt and evolve as the competition progresses.''

The Lightning played a handful of home games at Boondall last season but will play all seven home games at USC Stadium at Sippy Downs next year.

Six of the Sunshine Coast's matches overall will start at 3pm, with a further five starting at 1pm as part of the competition-wide shift from late-night games this year which alienated a significant portion of netball's fan base - young girls and their families.