Sport

Verity on fire and ready to fly

READY TO ASSIST: Grafton’s Verity Simmons is looking forward to a successful 2014 with the Queensland Firebirds. PHOTO: CONTRIBUTED
READY TO ASSIST: Grafton’s Verity Simmons is looking forward to a successful 2014 with the Queensland Firebirds. PHOTO: CONTRIBUTED

TOO MANY people throw the "new year, new me" saying around every time January 1 rolls around, but it hits the nail on the head for Grafton girl Verity Simmons.

Simmons, 22, took time out from her Rottnest Island holiday last week to catch up with The Daily Examiner.

She was enjoying a much needed break before getting back into preseason training with the Queensland Firebirds.

It is her first preseason with the club since leaving West Coast Fever, the club she debuted for in 2012 before becoming a permanent fixture in the starting seven in 2013.

"I'm loving the beach and it's great to be back," Simmons said.

"I've only got two weeks off but there's a pretty solid home program to stick to.

"We showed a big improvement. The results just didn't fall our way.

"I'm going to miss it over here but I'm really looking forward to the move."

The announcement of Simmons' move came at the same time the Firebirds re-signed young guns Gabi Simpson and Kim Ravaillion.

They form a powerful triumvirate: Simpson as one of the leading Firebirds for centre pass receives, deflections and intercepts, with Ravaillion the second highest in the Firebirds' ranks for goal assists (141).

Add to Simmons' 180 goal assists and 158 centre pass receives, and the Firebirds could be looking at another premiership.

And while the premiership ranks highly on Simmons' 2014 wish list, for now she is simply focused on settling into her new club.

"They've got a really good system up there but it's so different," she said.

"The approach to the game, the team - everything's different.

"The main key at the Firebirds is we really push the team orientation - there are no individual players, we're a team."

The team isn't just the few athletes who grace the ANZ Championship courts. It extends to coaches, physios and anyone else associated with Queensland's netball side.

"It's the Firebirds family," Simmons said.

Simmons is one of the Clarence Valley's finest netballing exports.

She grew up in the south-west Sydney city of Liverpool, where she cracked the under-10 team when she was just five years old.

She moved to Grafton not long after, and immediately got involved with the local competition, where she played in a team with her sisters, Marley and Ebony, coached by her Nan.

Representative honours came knocking almost immediately for the midcourter, a team she made every year until leaving the Jacaranda City for the Australian Institute of Sport when she was 16.

At 18 she earned Australian under-19 selection and also made her debut for NSW Waratahs in the Australian Netball League.

From there she continued to impress, earning a spot in the Australia Fastnet Diamonds team in 2011 before joining the West Coast Fever and making her ANZ Championship debut in 2012, and securing a starting spot last season.

"One of my major goals for 2013 was to be in the starting seven," Simmons said.

"I ended up playing every game of the season which was great compared to the last season.

"I was pretty happy with that and I have the same goal with the Firebirds."

And while a spot in the Diamonds team for this year's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow may seem out of reach, it is high on her list of ambitions.

"Ultimately, playing for the Australian Diamonds is the goal," Simmons said.

"The Commonwealth Games would be amazing but I've got quite a lot to do to get there.

"I'm a massive fan of setting high standards - whether it happens or not is a different story."

The Firebirds will start their season against Southern Steel at Invercargill on March 2.

Topics:  grafton netball association, netball, queensland firebirds, verity simmons

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