Brassard likes early signs

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JCU Townsville Fire head coach Claudia Brassard has conceded she is pleasantly surprised nearing the end of the first week of pre-season.

With the two-time reigning WNBL champions hitting the floor on Monday – including a gruelling fitness test session under the watchful eye of James Cook University – the first-year mentor was upbeat about the response from her new-look team.

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Despite the absence of Natasha Cloud and Kayla Standish, the Fire have looked sharp on the training floor.

“I’m really happy with the response from the group,” Brassard said.

“I guess I thought we may need to put some more work into the players who haven’t had a heavy playing and training load during winter, but they’re well advanced from where I would expect at this time of year.

“We’re a couple of bodies down too, so our development players (Haylee Andrews and Ainsley Walsh) have been part of every session and they have more than held their own.

“They look right at home in our program.”

With Standish poised to return to Townsville on Monday, Cloud will follow shortly after once her WNBA commitments with Washington have concluded.

In the meantime, Brassard has called on two of the club’s championship heroes, Rachael McCully and Cherie Gallagher, to assist at training.

“It’s been great having them on the floor,” Brassard said.

“We need a few extra players until Kayla and Tash arrive and they’re two great people to call upon.”

The Fire will spend the next week on the floor before heading to Mackay for a Community Camp including a pre-season game against the Brydens Sydney Uni Flames on Saturday, September 17.

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