A BACK injury to her older sister, Olivia, has given 16-year-old Nina Howard the chance to make her Launceston Tornadoes debut against Kilsyth on Saturday.
The St Patrick's College year 11 student has been part of the Tornadoes program for three years but will suit up for the first time against strong opposition in the Lady Cobras, who are sitting on top of the SEABL South Conference ladder.
``I'm pretty excited and it should be good,'' Howard said.
``I'll be a bit nervous but I'm looking forward to it.''
Howard plays with Trojans in the local league and has just returned from representing the state at the national under-18 championships in Canberra.
``It was really good and I had a good week playing against everyone and was happy with the way I played,'' she said.
``I finished sixth in the three-point shooting category.''
Howard said being involved with the Tornadoes program had helped her develop her skills and she loved being able to train and play against the club's top recruits, such as Lauren Mansfield, Nadeen Payne and Alex Wilson.
``I've learnt heaps from them because they're more experienced and I love going against them,'' she said.
Tornadoes executive officer Shannon Anis said helping develop players such as Howard was the aim of the club's program.
``It's about giving talented young players the opportunity to play in this kind of competition because they don't get that exposure here or in the local comp,'' she said.
The Tornadoes will be down two players against Kilsyth with Olivia injured and Emma Menzies away in Queensland.
Howard had only recently returned from a knee injury and could miss a few weeks while awaiting a final diagnosis of the back problem.
Tornadoes coach Peta Sinclair is also unavailable, travelling to China as manager of the Australian under-17 team.
Alicia Riley will take charge of the coaching duties while she is away.
The game tips off at 6.30pm at the Elphin Stadium.