Former players Clare McMeniman (left) and Laura Geitz celebrate a Firebirds win.
Former players Clare McMeniman (left) and Laura Geitz celebrate a Firebirds win. Jonathon Searle

Firebirds legend has no regrets about retirement

NETBALL: Queensland Firebirds great Clare McMeniman is loving the new Super Netball competition.

But as far as having any itchy feet goes, the 32-year-old has been happily treading the path into retirement.

The champion defender is all about moving forward.

"No, definitely not. Not for me," she laughs when asked if she felt she was missing out on being involved in the revamped domestic competition.

McMeniman called time on her illustrious career at the end of last year after being involved in her third ANZ Championship title with the Firebirds and captaining Australia to a win over New Zealand in the Constellation Cup.

"I was ready to move on," she said.

"As much as I have loved watching the (Super Netball) action unfold, seeing the girls out on court, there's not really a part of me that wishes I was out there with them.

"It was definitely my time."

McMeniman's former fellow defensive pillar and now business partner Laura Geitz has flagged the possibility of a return, with the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast next year a huge carrot.

Geitz gave birth to son Barney earlier this year.

"I think, at the moment, she is enjoying just being a mum," McMeniman said.

"As amazing as it would be to have Geitzy back on court, the most exciting thing is, with the departure of some of these older players, the fresh talent coming through and getting an opportunity."

 

Clare McMeniman with young Firebirds player Kimberley Jenner.
Clare McMeniman with young Firebirds player Kimberley Jenner. Richard Waugh

McMeniman says her former understudy at the Firebirds, Toowoomba product Laura Clemesha, is a "perfect example".

"She's had the opportunity to get increased time on court. She hasn't had the chance to play consistently at the top domestic level before," McMeniman said.

"I've enjoyed seeing the defenders progressively develop the combination they've been working on."

As well as Geitz and McMeniman moving aside, two-time championship winner Kim Ravaillion switched allegiance to new franchise the Magpies and Mahalia Cassidy injured her knee on season's eve.

McMeniman acknowledged it was "always going to be a challenge" for the Firebirds adapting to a new playing roster.

They are currently fifth on the Super Netball table and with three rounds to play and three points to make up on the fourth-placed Magpies, finals look out of reach for the once-powerful team.

McMeniman says the Firebirds, who host the Adelaide Thunderbirds at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre on Saturday night, will not want to use that as an excuse, however, with every team in a similar position.

"There were very few teams who retained the majority of their line-up," she said.

"You see glimpses of some amazing play (from the Firebirds), but I think they're looking to have a little more consistency."

McMeniman, who runs a successful coaching clinic with Geitz, has been happy to lend a hand with some mentoring when needed, "popping in and out", she said.

She actually coached the Firebirds in a pre-season game when incumbent Roselee Jencke was away with the Diamonds.

"I've enjoyed having that connection with the girls. When you stop playing, it's not so much missing the game but missing the environment," she said.

But McMeniman admits coaching in the high-pressure environment of Super Netball may not be for her.

"I don't think I'd be a very good head coach," she laughs.

"I think sometimes I'd be a little bit unrealistic in expectations I set for people."

As part of "retro round", the Firebirds will on Saturday night wear a one-off dress featuring the names of the club's past players.

Saturday: Magpies v Swifts, 7pm; Firebirds v Thunderbirds, 8.45pm

News Corp Australia

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