Ex-Firebird makes Queensland rivals switch

Tara Hinchliffe (r) has left the Firebirds to join Queensland rivals the Sunshine Coast Lightning.
Tara Hinchliffe (r) has left the Firebirds to join Queensland rivals the Sunshine Coast Lightning.

Sunshine Coast Lightning have completed the signing of Tara Hinchliffe following her exit from Super Netball rivals the Queensland Firebirds.

Hinchliffe, a former vice-captain of the Firebirds, informed the franchise on Monday she was signing with another club for the 2022 season.

The Lightning on Tuesday confirmed the capture of the 23-year-old defender, who is recovering from a season-ending ACL injury suffered in July.

She said after a period of reflection she decided to make the switch.

"It was obviously a tough decision but the opportunity to play with, and learn from, new players with different skills and international experience was hard to turn down," Hinchliffe said.

"The unique experience of my first major injury gave me time to reflect on my four years with the Firebirds, and how I could re-energise myself and my netball and chatting to Kylee (Byrne, Lightning coach) made me really excited about new possibilities up the Coast."

Hinchliffe will join twin sister Maddie at the Lightning.

Elsewhere, Australian shooter Kiera Austin has departed the GWS Giants ahead of an expected switch to the Melbourne Vixens.

Austin, an inaugural Giants player, was named the club's player of the year in 2020 before making her debut for the Diamonds later that year against New Zealand.

Like Hinchcliffe, the 24-year-old is also recovering from a ruptured ACL which wrecked her 2021 campaign.

"It was certainly a tough decision and one I continually weighed up, but I want to continue to develop and grow as a player and I believe a new opportunity will help me get there," she said.

"I will always be grateful to Julie (Fitzgerald, Giants coach) and the Giants for giving me my first-ever contract, but the timing just felt right."

Australian Associated Press