The NSW Swifts have embarked on a week of soul-searching after a shock 13-point loss to the Queensland Firebirds on Saturday.
The Firebirds sit in seventh place and were predicted to crumble under the second-placed powerhouse.
But with the Swifts still not settling into their usual structure, the dream of a back-to-back premierships is fast slipping away.
Captain Maddy Proud said the loss had prompted hard conversations within the dressing room.
“While you have to give credit to a team that were simply better on the day, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do some serious soul-searching in the short turnaround between games,” Proud said. “Believe me, we’ve done a lot of it since Saturday.”
Proud said the squad were critical but honest with each other around the team’s performance this season.
“The fact is we are still looking for consistent, cohesive performances where all parts of our attack and defence fire in sync for a full 60 minutes,” she said. “We’re the Premiers and we haven’t lived up to that title so far this year.
“I want the Firebirds game to be a watershed moment for this team in 2020. Just plodding along and relying on smarts won’t cut it. Put simply, we’ve got to be better.”
The Swifts are up against the ladder-leading Vixens on Tuesday, and star midcourter Paige Hadley hoped to turn around recent “patchy” performances.
Hadley blamed a lack of solid defence for Saturday’s downfall, with the Firebirds leading all four quarters for the first time since 2018.
“For us, it’s about going back to the basics and stop trying to over analyse everything,” she said. “If you look at our team you’ve got such a strong squad.”
Before the loss, coach Briony Akle had noted homesickness was creeping into her squad inside the Queensland hub for their second month.
But Hadley said the time away from home is also proving a motivational tool.
“I know personally I did not take six weeks from my family to not come away with that gold medal,” she said. “It is driving me each and every day and I want to look back as our time in Queensland an awesome memory – it’s definitely motivating us.”
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Sarah is a journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald.