Goal attack's not taking Games experience for granted
NETBALL: There was a stage a few years ago when Stephanie Wood almost stopped chasing her dreams in the sport but she's now treasuring her first Commonwealth Games experience.
The 26-year-old is poised to bolster the Australian attack at the Gold Coast, after an impressive 18 months on the domestic and international circuit.
"Four years ago, I wasn't in an elite team," she said.
"I remember watching the 2014 Commonwealth Games and wanting to be there but was actually thinking that was not going to happen.
"It was pretty much at the beginning of 2014 I actually told myself if I hadn't made an elite team by the end of that year I was...just going back to a bit of social netball and not put so much pressure on it."
But by the end of that year she scored a contract with the New South Swifts.
It didn't lead to big things straight away as she only saw limited time on court.
She persisted and was ultimately rewarded with a more permanent starting spot at the Sunshine Coast Lightning in 2017.
She was the foundation player at the club, which went on to win the Super Netball title in their inaugural year.
So Wood is savouring her rise in the sport, after almost giving up on her ambitions.
"I was late to debut in an elite team so I don't take any of this for granted," she said.
"I know how much it sucks when you're not in it."
Wood's had some time to soak in the atmosphere at the Gold Coast ahead of their campaign opener against Northern Ireland on Thursday.
"It's kind of very surreal being in and around the village," she said.
"It's probably a bit cliche but I just want to do whatever I can to help bring back the gold and we're not going there for anything else.
"If that means I'm a starting seven player or if that means I'm on the bench, I'll do whatever I need to do."
She was involved in a practice match with the Diamonds against the Lightning at the University of the Sunshine Coast on Saturday.
"It was a little bit weird at times but it was a lot of fun," she said.
She was marked by her regular team-mate, tall timber Erena Mikaere.
"She was definitely a different goal defence, which is probably a good thing because she is not a traditional one-one-one defender which probably prepared me quite well, leading into and playing against different styles of play (at the Games)," Wood said.