A defended title three years in the making isn’t just the aim for the NSW team ahead of the Australian Surf Life Saving Interstate Championships – it’s the expectation.

That’s the feeling of NSW Head Coach, Jimmy Walker as he prepares to lead a bumper supporting cast of Nutri-Grain Iron series stars and some of the state’s best and most talented up-and-coming athletes at Maroubra on Monday 16 January.

The memories of a win in 2020 at Alexandra Headland SLSC may be old, but they’re far from foggy for a team headlined by many of the same names who led the squad in Queensland.

Lizzie Welborn, Jackson Borg, Jemma Smith, Alex Rampoldi, Britney Pierce and Sam Zustovich are back, and the team this year is integrated with the younger pathways athletes, opening the door for a weekend of learning and growth both on and off the beach.

“The younger kids, especially, they don’t think they can talk to the senior athletes or hang out with them – now they get to be in their team,” Jimmy said of the squad structure.

“It’s not Jackson’s, or Conner’s (Maggs), or Lizzie’s team – it’s NSW’s team.

“All as one, we really work hard on that. Sam Zustovich’s points in the flags are just as valuable as Jemma’s on the ski or Jackson’s in the ironman.

“It’s why we’ve been able to dominate so much in the past and we intend to keep growing that team morale.”

The team will be looking to build on three years of past success, having claimed the title in 2018, 2019 and 2020 before a two-year hiatus where the event did not go ahead.

Squad selection was left as late as possible this year, with the goal of picking the “most in-form team” rather than one based solely on name value.

They’ll come together on Saturday and bonding will be the name of the game over the course of the weekend, with the squad set to support their teammates competing in the Iron Series rounds 3 and 4, and the Super Surf Teams League, running concurrently at Maroubra on Saturday and Sunday.

“There won’t be too much out on the water or the sand, you don’t make the state team through being inexperienced,” Jimmy said.

“Acting as a team will be the most important. Knowing that you can trust your teammates and feel in such a position that you can compete in everything you feel strong.

“Everyone will have a role to play on the day.”

As for what to expect from the squad, there are team and individual goals to be reached.

“It’ll be a NSW whitewash,” predicted Jimmy.

“I want everyone to perform 10% better than they have all season, that’s the plan.”

Banner Image – Harvpix

Thursday 12 January 2023