The Queensland Firebirds of 2022 were a topsy-turvy story ultimately culminating in them doing slightly better than expected with 5 wins and finishing sixth on the ladder.

While the Firebirds were strengthened by the return of superstar Gretel Bueta, who combined quickly with newcomer Donnell Wallam, the team could not keep enough ball in hand to enable the two shooters to do their job.

The defence end showed some flashes of brilliance but ultimately the three individual stars of Kim Jenner, Ruby Bakewell-Doran and English Rose Eboni Usoro-Brown could not consistently combine to win enough ball back nor stem the flow of other teams’ attack ends.

At the end of the season last year, Firebirds were looking for a new coach during the contracting period which did not enable them to recruit strength into the team. Additionally, Gretel Bueta is, happily, on maternity leave again but leaves a major hole in the Firebirds' attack line.

Firebirds have continued to take in the off-season and at the Team Girls Cup pre-season tournament only managed to defeat an injury-riddled Collingwood Magpies. Unfortunately for the Firebirds, it does not look like 2023 will see their fortunes turn around.

How can they improve

With the new Firebirds line-up, it is hard to see how they can improve on last season. Ultimately, they will need to invest in stability to have combinations grow. A back line of Kim Ravaillion in centre, Gabi Simpson in wing defence, Ruby Bakewell-Doran in goal defence and Remi Kamo in goal keeper should be good enough to put real pressure on opposition teams.

With Wallam upfront as a target shooter, if given a stable wing attack and goal attack those combinations and the structures that Firebirds want to play could grow quickly if given time to cement. They would likely have a rough start to the season but might just be able to have a good second half and cause some upsets.

The temptation to avoid will be for Bec Bulley to inject bench players too early or rotate them too quickly.

The Firebirds need to invest in a starting 7 and see them player through at least a half if not more. The big concern will be the temptation to rotate Stower and Moore, but will likely leave an unsettled attack end and erode confidence in both. Bec Bulley will need to develop a coherent, consistent game plan for the Firebirds and ensure every player, including the bench, knows their role for the season.


In: Macy Gardner (Elevated Training Partner), Remi Kamo, Ashlee Unie, Emily Moore 

Out: Jemma Mi Mi, Eboni Usoro-Brown (Retired), Kim Jenner (Fever)

Squad: Kim Ravaillion (C), Lara Dunkley, Gabi Simpson, Macy Gardner, Mia Stower, Donnell Wallam, Ruby Bakewell-Doran, Remi Kamo, Ashlee Unie, Gretel Bueta*, Emily Moore*

*Emily Moore was named as a permanent replacement player for Gretel Bueta after the announcement Bueta was pregnant.

Training Partners: Hulita Veve, Isabella Shearer, Leesa Mi Mi, Olivia Dijkstra 

Biggest Strength

The Firebirds have a strong spine for their team. Wallam and Bakewell-Doran both made their Australian Diamonds debuts in the off-season and time in the Diamonds camp should have them in a stronger position than they left at the end of the Firebirds' season.

Additionally, both players will be hungry to be on court and playing to be the best goal shooter or goal defence in the competition in 2023 as they attempt to make their case to be part of the Diamonds' World Cup team.

Further, Kim Ravaillion and Gabi Simpson, while no longer Diamonds, should not be discounted for the performances they can not only put out on court, but instil in the broader team culture.

These four players should be playing four quarters every game in their key position and allow other players to, intermittently, move around them for impact.

Biggest Weakness 

The Firebirds know as well as any team that the key to success is scoring. Unfortunately, the goal attack and wing attack positions have big question marks over them which will make it incredibly hard for Firebirds to get the ball to the shooting circle let alone through the ring.

While Mia Stower and Lara Dunkley are likely to be the starting goal attack and wing attack respectively, neither has shown so far that they are strong enough players to hold up under the pressure of the best defence structures in the league.

Even last year with Bueta on the team, Wallam was often coming out quite high in the attack third to help bring the ball down – but then the Firebirds got caught without a shooter under post. Now missing Bueta’s star power, that potentially means a whole lot of trouble for when it comes to bringing the ball down court.

Rising Star 

By our own metrics, Ruby Bakewell-Doran is still eligible for Rising Star but once they’ve been named as a Diamond that seems like a given. Remi Kamo though has the potential for a great season alongsider her former Cougars teammate.

Kamo will likely get substantial court time, as her height gives the Firebirds extra presence in the defence end that Unie and Bakewell-Doran miss. As noted, Kamo will have a Diamond as her defensive partner and two former Diamonds out front as well.

This should be a strong defence end to slide into that can set Kamo up to hunt, intercept and have a breakout season.


Ultimately, Firebirds will likely perform above expectations but only because expectations are so low. Firebirds have not recruited a team that impressed on paper and so far they have not impressed on the pre-season court.

Off-court drama for the Firebirds continues to arise and has now left the Firebirds without an assistant coach days before the season commences. That said Bec Bulley was seen as a rising star of coaching and has the coaching potential and raw ingredients on court to at least not be a team to write off.

By the end of the season, the Firebirds won’t be in a position for finals but they could be in the position to ruin another team's finals dreams.

Position: 8th

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