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Firebirds confirm 2017 netball roster

AAP logoAAP 21/09/2016 Vince Rugari

The Queensland Firebirds have confirmed their roster for the new Australian netball league, locking in the title-winning shooting combination of Romelda Aiken and Gretel Tippett.

But the reigning trans-Tasman champions will be counting on young talent to step up if they are to claim a third straight title after losing captain Laura Geitz (pregnancy), key defender Clare McMeniman (retirement) and centre Kim Ravaillion (Collingwood).

Laura Clemesha, who has been an understudy to Geitz and McMeniman for the last four seasons, will form a new-look back court with promising goal keeper Kate Shimmin, lured across from the Adelaide Thunderbirds.

Rookie Mahalia Cassidy, 20, has been earmarked as Ravaillion's replacement in midcourt.

The rest of Queensland's 'super seven' starting side - which won the last two trans-Tasman grand finals - remains intact, with the retention of Jamaican Aiken on a two-year deal the biggest coup.

Aiken was in huge demand from rival sides but the 27-year-old said she never intended to play for anyone else.

"It wasn't a hard decision. I've been here since 2008 and this has been home for me," said Aiken, the Firebirds' player of the year who finished as the trans-Tasman competition's all-time leading scorer.

"I know where my heart is. The culture here is a credit to Rose (Jencke) and Jenny (Brazel).

"It's going to be an exciting year and I can't wait to start playing netball again."

Coach Roselee Jencke said with co-captains Geitz and McMeninman gone, she will be looking for more leadership from Aiken, now the franchise's longest-serving player.

"She's the superstar bookend. We're thrilled to have her back and she's a champion of the game," Jencke said.

Jencke insisted the Firebirds would lose nothing by swapping Ravaillion for Cassidy, tipped to be a future Diamonds starter.

"Mahalia is more than ready for the next step and in fact, she was ready this year," she said.

"She took it to Rav every training session, outshone her at times and really put that pressure on her to perform."

Queensland Firebirds: Laura Clemesha, Kate Shimmin, Kimberley Jenner, Gabi Simpson, Mahalia Cassidy, Caitlyn Nevins, Jemma Mi Mi, Gretel Tippett, Romelda Aiken, Abi Latu-Meafou.

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