Cougars named for 2024
SOME new and familiar faces will suit up for the Geelong Cougars in 2024 with one major signing switching sides to join Gerard Murphy’s championship-winning unit.
The Cougars announced its Victorian Netball League Championship squad in late-January, revealing an elite-level roster with Geelong’s best local players filling out the Cougars’ first team.
Murphy and the club announced Queenscliff A Grader and defender Charli Nicol will join the Cougars for 2024, making the move over from fellow VNL side City West Falcons.
The 19-year-old stopper joins a formidable defensive unit alongside Colac Tigers defenders and two-time reigning Geelong Netball League premiers Brooke Allan and Indya Forde.
“Charli sort of replaces Tori Honner in rounding out our circle defenders. Tori has decided to take a year off so we’ll see what comes next when we get to that, but we’re excited to welcome Charli to the side,” Murphy said.
“She’s come through the state program and she’s currently trying out for the junior Australian squad as well, and we expect her to really compliment Brook and Indya’s styles as well.
“We’re keen to see how she goes in the next level and focusing on her execution, intensity, and her work rate a bit more.”
Division 1 defender Ashlee Smith is also in the line-up.
Murphy’s experienced midcourt of Ally O’Connor (South Warrnambool) and Kaitlyn Sheringham (Bell Park) will remain with the side, while Division 1 players Kiahna Fallon (South Barwon) and Charlotte Morey (South Barwon) make the ascension into the first team.
Newly signed Ocean Grove shooter Zanna Woods was again named to the Cougars shooting third alongside former Torquay goaler (Myrtleford) Daisy O’Kane and reigning Geelong Netball League best-and-fairest from St Joseph’s, Emma Buwalda.
Buwalda became the first Joeys member to win the league honour since Honner in 2016 and was a key member of the Cougars’ championship side in 2023.
“It can take time to adjust to the physicality of VNL netball from an intensity standpoint, and for Emma she’s played against Australian Netball Championship players, she’s trained with Magpies and Vixens, because of that she did an awesome job for us last year in her first year,” Murphy said.
“She’s still relatively new to what I would say is semi-elite netball, so we’ll continue to work out her strengths and weakness and refining the things she’s really good at like her shooting from distance and acceleration.
“She’s done an awesome job.”
The Victorian Netball League 2024 season begins on March 6 when Geelong play the Casey Demons.