Mansfield warming nicely to life at Redbacks

HAVING been quite the globetrotter, Lauren Mansfield wanted to stay in Perth this WNBL off-season to have the best possible preparation for the upcoming Lynx season and she couldn’t be happier with the new home she's found with the Redbacks.

Mansfield is coming off her first WNBL season at the Perth Lynx and she signed at the Redbacks for the 2019 Women's SBL season as one of the most decorated players to enter the competition given her credentials in the WNBL, with the Australian Opals and internationally.

Mansfield's debut with the Redbacks might have come seven games into the season due to a nagging foot injury she carried through her first season with the Lynx, but she's now warming up nicely.

She delivered a Player of the Round performance this past weekend in the Redbacks' wins over the Willetton Tigers and Cockburn Cougars which improves them to a 7-9 record on the season to sit in seventh position.

Mansfield was excited to be spending the off-season from the WNBL in Perth too rather than venturing overseas coming off playing in Poland prior to joining the Lynx.

And now both in terms of the WA lifestyle and settling into life at the Redbacks is going as well as she could have hoped.

"I am starting to feel comfortable here now and I really love Perth, it's beautiful here. I'd been here a little bit before obviously, but living here I just love the summer, the beaches and even though there's been a bit of rain lately, the weather in winter isn’t even too bad," Mansfield said.

"It's such a nice place and I'm starting to enjoy my time here, and I definitely do feel at home. Even the Redbacks, the whole club has been awesome to me and I've felt comfortable there straight away. I get along with all the girls really well and I feel like I'm in a very good environment right now and I'm happy here in Perth."

Given the fact that Mansfield has become accustomed to spending half a year playing in the WNBL and the other half elsewhere meant that the longer her first season with the Lynx went in 2018/19, the more she wanted to remain in Perth in the off-season.

That meant finding an SBL club to play for and with Craig Allen taking over as coach at the Redbacks and with emerging stars Nes'eya Williams and Rosie Deegan at the club and a good group of senior players including Jess Jakens, Denielle Lipscombe and Alix Hayward, that quickly became the option Mansfield wanted to pursue.

"I've spent quite a while moving every six months all over the world so for this off-season I just wanted to settle in the one place especially when I've had a few injury issues that I've been trying to get on top of," she said.

"During the Lynx season, I was still playing when I decided that I really wanted to stay in the one place and just focus on getting my body right, look after myself and not be busy going here, there and everywhere. I spoke to Andy about that and I'd heard bits and pieces about the SBL.

"I had actually looked at playing here a few years ago but it didn’t work out. So I asked Andy about the league and spoke with some of the girls at the Lynx who played in the SBL because I didn’t know too much about it. But they gave me a bit of a rundown and it sounded like something I'd enjoy being part of."

The hope for Mansfield in choosing to remain in Perth where she could prepare fully for the upcoming Lynx season while playing locally and only be interrupted by Opals commitments was that it would be an even better preparation for her WNBL campaign.

Already with more than 100 games in the WNBL under her belt, Mansfield is now an experienced player at the top level but she is always looking for ways to improve and she is confident this off-season at the Redbacks will lead to an even better season with the Lynx.

"I really hope this leads to a good season at Lynx. Honestly my pre-season has already started and I've begun my work on sprint training and all of that sort of stuff," Mansfield said.

"I've finally got my foot to a point where I'm not in pain anymore so I can really start to push myself and obviously I want to get my fitness up for Opals camp and then going into Lynx season.

"I think it's going to be a huge advantage for me personally already being here and working with the Lynx strength and conditioning guys. Even being able to work with Andy once a week in a session we have with some of the other girls. I think it's definitely going to be an advantage for sure."

Mansfield finally received clearance to play with the Redbacks having overcome her foot complaint in a win over the Mandurah Magic which sparked the first three wins of the season for a team that had gone winless in her absence.

Now that the Redbacks are again on a three-game winning run, Mansfield is feeling better about their prospects this season but she was already enjoying her time at the club and in the SBL.

"I've actually felt quite frustrated so far because I feel like we're a good team when you look down the line and look at us on paper," she said.

"We definitely have a lot of talent but it just hasn’t quite clicked yet or resulted in the wins we would have liked. But hopefully that's turning around now and we'd like to continue this bit of a roll if we can and we need to if we want to make a push for finals.

"To be honest, I think it's more our team defence. That's what needs to really be fixed and then I think our offence will flow from that. We just need to keep working on our team defence so that we can get stops and then push the ball from there to get into more of a running game at the offensive end."

These 10 games so far have been Mansfield's first taste of playing in the SBL and she already can't speak more highly of the level of competition she's come across.

"It is a pretty high standard and it has been a while since I've played in South Australia, but i would compare it pretty favourably to that for sure," she said.

"I think it's a good, high standard league and there's lots of really good teams with a lot of talent. I'm really enjoying playing in the league at the moment and I might enjoy it a bit more if we got a few more wins, but hopefully that's starting to happen and we can make a run to the playoffs now too."

Having spent time with her at the Lynx this past WNBL season, Mansfield is now continuing to enjoy working and playing with Nes'eya Williams at the Redbacks, and she couldn’t be more excited about how bright of a future she has.

"I love working and playing with Nes'eya. She's obviously very gifted and has massive natural ability, and she makes everything look really easy which I'm quite jealous of," she said.

"I think she has a bright future ahead of her and she's an exciting player. What I like about her is that she wants to learn too. Whenever I'm talking to her, I know she's listening and taking it all in and I think she's committed to working on her game and getting better, and improving every day.

"I think with that, she's got the right attitude so I think that's really going to help her hopefully go places and I'm sure she'll have a career in the WNBL in the future."

While Mansfield's immediate focus is on the Redbacks and longer-term the Lynx's 2019/20 season, she has the chance for more international honours coming up and she is looking forward to pressing her case at the Opals camp late next month in Phoenix.

That will prove to be the camp where the team is selected for September's Asia Cup and Mansfield hopes to be picked for that as she was back in 2017 with an eye to putting her best foot forward to be at the Tokyo Olympic Games next year.

"Playing in the Olympics is my ultimate goal so I really would love to assert myself as one of the main contenders for one those point guard spots," Mansfield said.

"This next camp will be very important for me and my career with the Opals for sure so I'm going to try and be as prepared as I can be going into it.

"It's definitely the goal to play the Asia Cup. Any time I can represent Australia it's pretty cool so that's definitely something that's in the back of my mind and is something I'm really striving for, and am determined to do.

"I know it's going to be tough because I've kind of been out of the team for a bit and had to miss the last camp because of my foot. But I'm healthy now and over these next few weeks I want to prepare for that Opals camp to give it the best shot that I have to make that team. That's the goal for sure."




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Acknowledgement

Perth Redbacks Basketball Association acknowledges the traditional owners of the land on which the Association is located, the Wadjuk people of the Noongar Boodja, we pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging. We respectfully acknowledge the continuing connection of the Noongar people to the lands and sea on Noongar Boodja.