Launceston Tornadoes banking on Tasmanian talent in 2018

GAME FACES: Tornadoes coach Derrick Washington surrounded by Tasmanian talent Paige French, Ellie Collins, Jayde Brazendale and Ishoa-Jade Cook on Wednesday. Picture: Scott Gelston
GAME FACES: Tornadoes coach Derrick Washington surrounded by Tasmanian talent Paige French, Ellie Collins, Jayde Brazendale and Ishoa-Jade Cook on Wednesday. Picture: Scott Gelston

Launceston Tornadoes’ Tasmanian players have coach Derrick Washington’s confidence to deliver in the absence of his marquee signings early on this season.

The Torns unveiled their 14-player squad on Wednesday with Latrobe’s Paige French, Deloraine’s Jess Johnson, Devonport’s Emma Haywood, Hobart’s Ellie Collins and Launceston foursome Sophie Ackerly, Aishah Anis, Jayde Brazendale and newcomer Sam Chilcott all honoured with a spot.

The squad underwent an intense training session on Sunday in preparation for the season opener at home on April 7 against Kilsyth, which Washington said captain Lauren Mansfield and American import Mikaela Ruef would certainly miss.

“Most teams will be missing their best players through either Commonwealth Games or European commitments at the start of the season,” he said.

“The local girls have been working really hard since I arrived last month… I have used my background as a skills coach to develop their all-round skills to enable us to run new offensive plays and just play ball.

“I want them to have the freedom to play to their strengths.”

French, 18, who is a 158-centimetre point guard and will step into Mansfield’s shoes, said she is excited to get court time.

“It’s been good with Derrick here, I’ve grown already as a player and learning new things every day,” she said.

Tayla Roberts, Mili Koyamainavure, Olivia Chugg, Nina Howard and Bec Abel are the only squad omissions from last season. 

TORNADOES SQAUD

Lauren Nicholson, Mikaela Ruef, Ally Wilson, Lauren Mansfield, Paige French, Ali Partridge, Jess Johnston, Emma Haywood, Sophie Ackerly, Ishoa-Jade Cook, Aishah Anis, Jayde Brazendale, Sam Chilcott, Ellie Collins.