Firebirds ready for 11th player to take flight

Esther LinderAAP
Ali Miller's gamble on a move to Brisbane looks set to pay off in Super Netball. (HANDOUT/NETBALL AUSTRALIA)
Camera IconAli Miller's gamble on a move to Brisbane looks set to pay off in Super Netball. (HANDOUT/NETBALL AUSTRALIA) Credit: AAP

Brisbane is 1300km away from Wagga Wagga, but relocating that distance from home could mean debuting in Super Netball for one aspiring player.

Ali Miller, previously a junior squad member with the NSW Swifts and an Australian under 19s representative, made the move with her son Talanoa to Queensland for a training partner contract with the Firebirds.

Miller is now the 11th squad member for the Firebirds after signing a contract for the 2024 season and spending the pre-season with the Firebirds team.

A rules change for match-day squads, announced for Super Netball clubs at the end of 2023, means an 11th player signing is now available and they can be swapped in on match day to cover injury, illness, or for tactical advantage.

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They have to be under 26 or have played less than five Super Netball matches.

"It really is a dream come true," 27-year-old Miller said of her signing, which will likely mean being called up for her first elite match this season.

"Ever since having Talanoa I've always wanted to be a mum first and then an athlete second.

"It's pretty cool that I get to experience that this year and SSN, hopefully debuting, just seems that bit closer and I'll be doing everything I possibly can to hopefully get the call-up."

Miller joins fellow mothers Hulita Veve and captain Kim Ravaillion on the Firebirds side, with their children spending time together as the athletes trained during the pre-season.

The move also gave Miller the chance to reunite with Firebirds head coach Rebecca Bulley, who moved to the sunshine state in 2022 after a stint as an assistant coach at the Swifts.

"I've always had (a) huge amount of respect for Bec ... to get the opportunity to be coached by her again, yeah, I wasn't going to turn that down," Miller said.

Bulley said her newest recruit had settled in well to the Firebirds side and was training hard ahead of the season's opening next weekend.

"I'm delighted she has the opportunity as our eleventh player for the season ahead, ensuring we can have her height, eye-for-goal and leadership to add to our shooting ranks in 2024," Bulley said.

Miller's flawless run at the pre-season Team Girls Cup, scoring 27 from 27 attempts over two matches, brings her chances of debuting for her new team up as the Firebirds look to improve from their seventh-placed ranking in 2023.

The Firebirds will begin their 2024 season against reigning premiers the Adelaide Thunderbirds on Saturday week in Adelaide.

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