SHE will play no further role on the court this season, but star Gisborne centre Tiana Newman is backing her Bulldogs team-mates to have an impact come finals time.
The dual Betty Thompson Medal-winning midcourter got a different look at her team last weekend against Kangaroo Flat - from the sidelines - as the fill-in for absent coach Tarryn Rymer.
It was a tough day for the Bulldogs, who went down to the Roos by 12 goals, but an interesting experience for Newman, who is pregnant with her and partner Luke Saunders' first child.
"It was a little stressful, I'd definitely rather be on the court," said Newman, who played for the last time this season in Gisborne's 19-goal win over South Bendigo on May 14.
"But it was a good experience and I do love these girls.
"They are a great bunch and I'm sure they will regroup against Golden Square (this Saturday)."
A force in the midcourt in red, white and blue for well over a decade and a league best and fairest in 2009 and 2013, Newman said it went without saying she would miss the on-court involvement.
"When I found out I cried as I was sad to leave netball, but I am excited about what's ahead," she said.
"There are some amazing people like Jordan Cransberg coming in to fill my position.
"But I'll still be around to help motivate the girls and be Taz's right-hand man."
Despite last week's defeat against the Roos and an earlier season loss to Sandhurst, Newman was confident Gisborne could challenge their top-three rivals come the business end of the season.
She said the return of star midcourter and Melbourne Vixens training partner Cransberg, once her Super Netball commitments were complete, and Holly Doricic, currently sidelined with a knee injury, would provide the Bulldogs with a timely boost ahead of finals.
"We've got a bit to work on to get back on track (following last week's loss), particularly our transition from attack to defence," Newman said.
"Hopefully our game against Golden Square is a chance to do that.
"We've been a bit light on for numbers, but hopefully we'll get some back soon."
Rymer will be back at the helm for the Bulldogs' home clash against Golden Square, which is still chasing its first win after an encouraging effort in a 44-31 loss to Castlemaine last week at Wade Street.
In other games this weekend, Strathfieldsaye tackles the might of Kangaroo Flat, Castlemaine hosts Eaglehawk, Sandhurst makes the trek to Kyneton and Maryborough clashes with South Bendigo.
The Bloods, with new recruit Ash Gilmore on board, will be aiming to build on last week's 24-goal win over the Storm, with coach Jannelle Hobbs anticipating a fierce challenge against the Magpies, who fared solidly against league leaders Sandhurst.
"I reckon they are always tough, Maryborough. They have some fantastic players and it will definitely be a tough contest," she said.
"We'll definitely have to be on our A-grade game.
"They have that strong goal circle with Jordan Macilwain and Keely Hare, who always give us a hard time.
"We'll have to pull out everything to beat them, but I'm confident we can and continue to nail down our spot in the five."
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