It has been confirmed that ex Leeds Rhinos player Donnell has confirmed a place in the 2022 SSN.
The Queensland Firebirds have signed exciting goaler Donnell Wallam as a replacement player for the 2022 Suncorp Super Netball season.
Wallam, who replaces Romelda Aiken-George who is on maternity leave, was invited to train with the club in January and has worked hard to earn the contract offer.
The Western Australian’s signing creates history as she becomes just the second current First Nations player in the SSN, along with Firebirds teammate Jemma Mi Mi.
“Sometimes I pinch myself because I just can’t believe it. To be playing at the highest level in Australia makes me feel proud of how far I’ve come this pre-season,” Wallam admitted.
“There was a lot to think about and consider and at times I thought ‘nah I can’t do it’ or it wasn’t the right timing. But I had lots of talks with my family and my WANL coach Lorraine Ward and in the end I decided it was the right choice.
“I was willing to take the risk of coming over on a temporary contract and I’m just so stoked that the risk has paid off for me.
“I just thought this is my chance to get my foot in the door with another SSN team so I need to really push myself and show them what I can do.”
Wallam, a Noongar woman, said she understood the significance of her signing and what it meant to be the second First Nations player in the SSN, though was not overthinking it.
The 28-year-old spoke of the support from the entire club, particularly Mi Mi, who has been in a similar situation to Wallam.
“Firstly, what an amazing job she (Mi Mi) has done and continues to do. I’m happy I can be there and help her take on that role and inspire more First Nations athletes to follow their dreams,” she acknowledged.
“We had a few chats about it, and she’s given me some great advice and insight of what it’s like and I’m just glad we can both lean on each other for support now.
“Obviously we’d love for more Aboriginal athletes to be coming through the pathways, but I’m happy I can hopefully inspire them and to be doing it alongside Jemma who I’ve looked up to is just amazing.”
Wallam has showcased her talents for years in Western Australia and more recently in England, but the talented goaler burst onto the SSN scene at Team Girls Cup last month.
Her first outing in purple was one Firebirds head coach Megan Anderson described as ‘phenomenal’, admitting Wallam’s performances even exceeded her expectation at that stage.
“I definitely had a smile on my face behind my mask that game,” Anderson said.
“I knew she had special talents and I knew what she’d sacrificed to come over and she’d been so keen to get out on court, it was just so heart-warming to see her play so well.
“I expect her to continue to build across the season, she’s a naturally gifted player with a great netball brain, so her physical presence and match fitness will just keep getting better and better. It’s exciting to think about how far she could go.”
Anderson labelled Wallam’s start to her SSN career as a ‘baptism of fire’, though said she was proud of the way she fitted into the club and the progress she had made.
“She is very level-headed and knows exactly what she wants. She’s so keen to learn and become better and has this quiet determination and confidence that’s just beautiful,” the Firebirds coach said.
“She’s impressed us all with her determination and she’s such an intelligent player, you can give her direction and she will just go out and do it.”
Wallam joins the Queensland Firebirds 10-player squad for Sunday’s Suncorp Super Netball season-opener against the Melbourne Vixens in front of a home crowd at Brisbane’s Nissan Arena.