WNBL star Kelly Wilson revels in switch to netball at Golden Square

CHANGING OF THE GUARD: Kelly Wilson is adapting to life on the netball court and was one of Golden Square's best on Saturday against Kangaroo Flat. Picture: ADAM BOURKE
CHANGING OF THE GUARD: Kelly Wilson is adapting to life on the netball court and was one of Golden Square's best on Saturday against Kangaroo Flat. Picture: ADAM BOURKE

GOLDEN Square's Kelly Wilson admits she is very much a work in progress as she transitions from women's national league basketballer to Bendigo league netballer.

But that concession will be of little solace to rivals at nine BFNL clubs after the former Bendigo Spirit and Bendigo Lady Braves star played such a pivotal role in the Bulldogs' seven goal win in round one over reigning premiers Kangaroo Flat on Good Friday.

Wilson spent October through March living away from Bendigo, while playing for the Townsville Fire in the WNBL.

The point guard had always planned to take a break from playing with the Lady Braves this season, after injuries, including a broken foot, hampered her 2016-17 season with the Fire.

Wilson said it took little convincing from best mate and former Spirit and Australian Opals teammate Gabe Richards and new Bulldogs coach Allira Holmes to take the plunge into netball.

Saturday's match against Kangaroo Flat was Wilson's first competitive netball hit-out since she was a 16-year-old in Leongatha, and before her basketball career started to blossom.

She said the weeks in-between first being approached to play and last weekend's season opener had been a tremendous learning curve.

"I'm not in my comfort zone, and the rules change a lot over time in sport, so there some rules I don't really understand," Wilson said.

"The footwork, while it kind of looks similar, is a bit different.

"The basic skills, the passing, the running, basic agility, I'm okay with.

"What's exciting is I know no one (in the BFNL competition), I don't know what to expect each week."

While, by her own harsh analysis, some of the fundamentals might be lacking, what's not is the fierce competitiveness that has been a trademark of her more than 300 WNBL and 207 SEABL games, 125 of them with the Lady Braves.

"Unfortunately that competitive spirit never leaves me, that's a blessing and a curse sometimes," she said.

"I am a very competitive person, but that's what I love about any sport.

"I love watching sport, I love playing ... netball is a real challenge for me."

Wilson has been joined at Wade Street by sister and long-time Bendigo Spirit and Lady Braves player Andrea Wilson.

A hamstring injury to Andrea, a HDFNL netball premiership player alongside Richards at Mount Pleasant in 2012, prevented the sisters from making their Golden Square debuts together.

Unfortunately that competitve spirit never leaves me, that's a blessing and a curse sometimes.

Kelly Wilson

Despite revelling in her switch to netball, Wilson has not shut the door on a return to the SEABL at some point.

The former Lady Braves captain has continued to train with the team under fifth-year coach Jonathon Goodman.

Kelly Wilson continues to train with the Bendigo Lady Braves and has not ruled out a return to the SEABL at some point.

Kelly Wilson continues to train with the Bendigo Lady Braves and has not ruled out a return to the SEABL at some point.

"Jono has been great about letting me join in with the team they've got, so I wouldn't rule out a return to that at some point in the season," she said.

"I think the more I go to training, the more I am tempted to play.

"Whether or not I return later in the season might depend on whether I have signed with a WNBL club or not."

With the first game out of the way, Wilson said she could not speak highly enough of the environment at her new home.

"All the girls at Golden Square have been so welcoming," she said.

"The best way to describe it is helpful, I have asked so many what you would call stupid questions about netball.

"But they have been absolutely great. My sister and I came at pretty late notice, but the girls have been nothing but kind and welcoming."

Wilson is this week adjusting to life away from the netball and basketball court, returning to her full-time role at Bendigo South East College's Athlete Development Program from Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Bulldogs coach Holmes could not have been stronger in her praise of Wilson's first game in blue and gold.

"She's a gun .. she's got an engine that keeps going and going and loves to run, hence why she gets the centre position," she said.

"The vertical leap she has is amazing, she definitely applies pressure through the whole court.

"I could put her anywhere on the court."