WAGGA product Sophie Fawns is content to bide her time working towards her Super Netball dream as the NSW Swifts get set for the beginning of their title defence this weekend.
Goal-attack Fawns, 18, is now permanently based in Sydney after helping spearhead Mangoplah-Cookardinia United-Eastlakes to two premierships.
She has been promoted to a training partner at the Swifts, one of six players in the club's 30-player Academy elevated to that title.
It effectively means she's been identified as a potential future player in the official squad, which begins its campaign with a derby against Greater Western Sydney on Saturday night.
COVID has already disrupted the Swifts' pre season, with coach Briony Akle and attacker Sam Wallace unable to attend last month's Team Girls Cup in Melbourne, while pre-season games against Adelaide Thunderbirds were also cancelled.
"At the moment the training partner role is a reserve player. We haven't been given any instructions but you wait week-to-week if anyone's got an injury or COVID, you might get a call up.
"It feels very surreal that you're so close,"
A debut this year would be a long shot and Fawns is content to continue learning her craft from some of the world's elite players.
"I'm happy to keep learning from the best and stay in that role a bit longer," she said.
"I feel in the last couple of years when I was doing pre season with them I was so nervous. But this year getting a lot of pre season games and getting to train with them a lot more has really helped."
Fawns played in pre season games against Sunshine Coast and the Giants, and getting stronger and being more self-confident at training are among her goals.
"For me putting on a bit of size is important, as I'm a bit lean compared to everyone else," she said.
"I've learned so many things from everyone really, but one thing would be mindset. In a lot of the pre season games us training partners were really nervous and they'd tell us 'it's just netball, you've played this your whole life'.
"It's about taking the chance head on and not backing down."
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