Leilani Rohweder (Centre) played in a preseason trial game for the NSW Swifts. Photo NSW Swifts
Leilani Rohweder (Centre) played in a preseason trial game for the NSW Swifts. Photo NSW Swifts

Super surprise for rising netball star

A SURPRISE selection saw Alstonville product Leilani Rohweder play for the NSW Shifts Super Netball team in a trial game at Goulburn.

It was a surreal moment for the 19-year-old who was only recently selected in the Shifts academy team.

She played more than half the game alongside some of the Swifts premiership-winning team from last season when they took on Sydney rivals the Giants on Saturday.

A Rohweder intercept proved the catalyst for the Swifts taking the lead late in the first quarter.

The Swifts eventually went down 56-54.

"I first got told about it (playing) on Thursday and it was only the next day it was confirmed," Rohweder said.

"Even then I thought I would probably only sit on the bench.

"Starting the game and being out there for so long was unbelievable.

"A lot of the players from the grand final like Paige Hadley and Helen Housby were there.

"It only really hit me in the warm-up what was actually happening, when I was passing the ball to some girls who are in the (Australian) Diamonds team.

"It was definitely exciting, the short notice probably helped because I was still in shock and didn't have the chance to fan girl any of them too hard."

Rohweder grew up playing in the Lismore Netball Association and was a NSW state representative at under-17 and under-19 level.

She now plays premier league with the Penrith Panthers and studies at the Western Sydney University Hawkesbury campus.

"It was a bit of a culture shock, living on campus last year, but I've settled in at Castle Hill now," Rohweder said.

"The feedback I got from the weekend was really positive and it's a big moment.

"There is a lot more work ahead of me but a little nod like that goes a long way."

Coach Briony Akle had no hesitations throwing Rohweder in the mix.

She was the only newcomer to start the game.

"Getting to play with the likes of Paige Hadley, Sarah Klau and Helen Housby, and against players such as Jo Harten and Jamie-Lee Price is a pretty steep learning curve but they more than held their own," Akle said.

"I think it's a testament to our pathway that these regional kids could step up.

"Young girls in these regional areas can see players not much older than them, and from similar areas, getting to play alongside premiership winners."