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Bond rebounds to netball’s Sapphire Series

Bond University netballer Allanah Penny hopes to step up to the Sapphire Series next year.

The Bond University Bull Sharks are returning to Queensland Netball’s HART Sapphire Series in 2023.

After a year consolidating talent pathways, the Bull Sharks will field squads in both the Sapphire and Ruby competitions next year.

Bond University Director of Sport Michael Collins said the Bull Sharks’ return to the top-tier Queensland league would complement Bond’s women’s AFL and rugby programs which also compete at state level.

“Our women’s AFL program is the No.1 nursery for the AFLW and our women’s rugby sevens side are the reigning university national champions,” Collins said.

“We harbour similar ambitions for our netball program, and the promising signs are there.

“In the past few years the university has won Under 16 and Under 18 state championships and provided talent for state, national and Super Netball squads.

“Returning the Bull Sharks to the Sapphire Series is key to realising our potential in netball which remains the most popular women's sport in Australia.”

Allanah Penny captained the Bull Sharks in the Ruby Series this year after moving from Geelong to study a Doctor of Physiotherapy at Bond University.

She hopes to use the Sapphire Series as a springboard to higher representative honours.

“I was so stoked (to hear about the elevation). Just to have that pathway for the younger girls is awesome,” she said.

“It’s given me a lot more motivation to get out there and get the fitness back on track to try and make the team.”

Penny is a member of Bond’s Elite Sports Program which helps students balance their studies with sporting commitments.

“It’s been really helpful. If there are assessments due on the same day as games, we can work around that,” she said.

“And when I begin work placements next year they’ll make sure I'm placed on the Gold Coast so I'm available for netball training and matches.”

The university was a foundation team in the Sapphire Series in 2019 but dropped back to the second-tier Ruby Series in 2022.

The Bull Sharks’ return to the Sapphire Series sets up a Gold Coast derby after the Titans completed their inaugural campaign in 2022.

“There was definitely some healthy competition this year in the Ruby Series so I think that will definitely transpire into the Sapphire,” Penny said.

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