WHEN Bendigo's Jayden Cowling was first chosen in the Victorian men's open netball team, little did he know it would be nearly three years before he got to step on the court at national championships.
But a frustrating wait for the 25-year-old and his Victorian team-mates will end this Saturday when the Vics take to the court against the Southern Dragons in Adelaide on Sunday.
It follows the cancellation of the championships in both 2020 and 2021.
Cowling, a regular member of both the state under-23 and under-19 men's squads before his promotion to the open team, is itching to get started and to make up for lost time.
"It's been a long time in the making, basically three years ago since I got picked in the open team for the first time," he said.
"It's amazing that I am finally getting to go.
"It feels like I've been part of the team forever with all the netball we have missed."
Cowling's national championships commitments will keep him from coaching Kangaroo Flat's A-grade team for the next two weekends.
The Roos will play BFNL rivals Golden Square on Easter Saturday at Wade Street, before a showdown the following week against Eaglehawk.
Kangaroo Flat will be coached for the next two weeks by Nicole Donnellon, with assistance from Michelle Ryan.
READ MORE: Roos back at square for second week in a row
Sunday's championships opener for Victoria will be followed by two games on Monday against New South Wales and West Coast, with games to continue through until the first round of finals on Friday, preliminary finals on Saturday and the grand final on Sunday.
Cowling, equally influential at goal attack and wing attack, is excited by the Victorians' chances.
"New South Wales is definitely the favourites, they'd won a few championships before Queensland won the last one (in 2019)," he said.
"It's a pretty great competition, anyone could win it to be honest.
"We went away to Perth a few weekends ago and WA was very strong, so I wouldn't be counting anyone out."
An obvious thrill, in addition to being excellent preparation for the nationals, the Victorians played several practice matches against the Melbourne Vixens before the start of the Super Netball season, and a couple against West Coast Fever while in Perth last month.
"Both (SSN) teams play very different games; with the Fever, you have a great tall in Jhaniele Fowler that they can just throw the ball to," Cowling said.
"The margins were pretty similar between the two, which shows how close they can be together."
Ironically, as Cowling heads to South Australia, the Victorians' two pre-season foes squared off this week in Melbourne, with the undefeated Vixens handing the Fever their first loss for the season in a 75-66 win.
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