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Firebirds’ triple swoop starts 2024 signings

Firebirds’ triple swoop starts 2024 signings

THE Queensland Firebirds have made a triple swoop to start their 2024 squad announcements with Lara Dunkley and Tippah Dwan as well as principal partner Aurizon signing deals with the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) club.

In a significant show of stability, vice-captain Dunkley’s two-year deal means the 28-year-old will extend her stay in Purple after moving to the club initially as an injury replacement in 2020.

Dunkley celebrated her 50-game milestone during the 2023 campaign during which she was an ever-present, notching a club-high 206 goal assists as well as club leading tallies for feeds (355) and centre pass receives (250).

Dunkley is delighted to be staying in Brisbane with the Firebirds, especially after her AFL-playing brothers Josh and Kyle joined her in Queensland by signing with the Brisbane Lions ahead of the 2023 season.

“I didn’t want to go anywhere else, this is my home now,” Dunkley said.

“I love it here in Queensland. I love the club and I’m excited for what’s ahead and what we’re building.

“We’re really fortunate as a club to have some incredible partners and people involved.

“I’ve been lucky to travel on a few Aurizon regional tours now and they have been amazing opportunities to go to regional Queensland.

“I really value how we can connect to people face-to-face in our regional areas who are all a part of our club and am excited to see the partnership will continue for at least another three years.”

Bulley said securing Dunkley was a big part of her plans for 2024.

“Lara is not only a proven performer at Suncorp Super Netball level, bringing experience and on-court leadership to our team, but she is a Firebird through and through,” Bulley said.

“Lara may play with a smile on her face but there’s no doubt she’s as tough a competitor as you’ll see, someone who isn’t afraid to put her body on the line but also provides clean ball to our shooters.

“I know our Purple Family will be as happy as I am that Lara will be part of our team again in 2024.”

Queensland product Dwan was a part of the Thunderbirds’ 2023 SSN Grand Final triumph having moved to South Australia ahead of the 2022 season but is excited about the prospect of returning to the Purple Family.

“I’m excited to be back home in Queensland and extremely grateful for the opportunity to be back playing in front of the purple family,” Dwan said.

“I learnt a lot moving away for two years and now I look forward bringing that experience to this amazing group.

“Can’t wait to see what we can achieve in season 2024.”

The Queensland 19 and Under captain in 2018, Dwan was part of the Firebirds set-up from 2017 to 2022 with her big break coming in 2020 after being elevated to the squad as a replacement player due to Gretel Bueta’s pregnancy with son Bobby.

In her maiden SSN campaign, Dwan scored 184 goals, notched 148 goal assists and 255 feeds, making a huge impact across the attacking third.

Bueta’s return in 2021 meant Dwan was used as a third-choice goaler, but still shot 48 goals, recorded 62 goal assists and 101 feeds despite experiencing less court time.

“Tippah is dynamic and agile and will bring great netball smarts to our attacking third,” Bulley said.

“She returns to the Firebirds with proven premiership credentials and increased experience from her time with the Thunderbirds.

“We’re all very excited to have her back in Queensland and I’m looking forward to her shining in the purple dress in 2024.”

Completing a big start to the Firebirds’ contract announcements, Australia’s largest rail freight business Aurizon has committed to three more years as the club’s principal partner.

The new deal extends Aurizon’s partnership with the Firebirds, which began ahead of the 2021 season, through to the end of the 2026 campaign at least.

“Aurizon is proud to continue our partnership with the Queensland Firebirds,” Aurizon Head of Corporate Affairs Paul Cronin said.

“The Firebirds are fantastic ambassadors for the sport of netball, and we look forward to continuing to build on what we have already achieved together.”

Netball Queensland CEO Kate Davies acknowledged the value of Aurizon’s investment in the Queensland Firebirds and in netball initiatives throughout Queensland.

“The Queensland Firebirds represent this entire state on a national stage and we’re proud to have Aurizon committing to a further three years with us,” Davies said.

“A key objective of the first three years of our partnership has been engaging with Aurizon’s staff and regional communities more broadly through regional tours involving our Firebirds coach and players.

“This will remain an integral part of the partnership moving forward as the Firebirds not only connect with the regional communities through netball clinics but engage directly with Aurizon to learn about the company’s operations.”

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