League-leading Malan hopeful for sustained Thundersticks success

Perth Thundersticks star and 2022 Charlesworth Medallist Liné Malan is starting to make a name for herself across the country after dominating the early stages of this year’s Sultana Bran Hockey One League season.

Malan is the leading goal scorer for the tournament so far with three goals and has been a key figure in the Thundersticks side’s undefeated start to their campaign.

The South African midfielder first put the competition on notice in the Thundersticks 3-1 win over the Adelaide Fire in their opening match where she scored a scintillating tomahawk goal before completing the conversion.

Malan was able to back up her efforts in Perth’s second match, scoring the sealer to see her side take a vital 2-0 road victory over HC Melbourne.

It has been a big year of hockey for the import, who won a premiership with her club side Hale at the Premier League level and was awarded the Charlesworth Medal as the competitions Fairest and Best player.

Malan said she put her success this year down to feeling comfortable and relishing the opportunity to play high-level hockey post the pandemic.

“I think it is just because I am enjoying my hockey at the moment,” she said.

“In the past, there used to be a lot of pressure to perform, but now I am just having fun really.

“It is a good team environment; it is nice to go down to training and not an effort.

“I love being competitive, so it is nice to be able to play at this level again.”

The midfielder said there was a good vibe around the team this year and everyone was focused on a common goal of bringing home a maiden Hockey One title.

“The coaching staff have been great, they are switched on and doing their homework, which makes it easier for us as players,” Malan said.

“I think we have a really solid team this year with some really good girls, which makes a big difference.

“We are quite unified and everyone is on the same page.

“We haven’t played together for two and a half years now, so it is nice to play at a very high level.

“It is also nice to be travelling with the team again and being away with the team you build those connections.”

Thundersticks women’s coach Phil Hulbert said Malan was a driving factor in the side’s undefeated start to the year.

“She has been really good, really attacking, breaks lines and is having a really good tournament thus far,” Hulbert said.

“She is really coachable, which is a big part to it as well.

“Having midfielders that can score is pretty fantastic and takes a load off leaving it to just one or two people.

Malan said the side were now determined to make the most of their strong start to this year’s Sultana Bran Hockey One season.

“We said before the first game we have always wanted to do well in the past, but there is really something special about this year’s group,” Malan said.

“We have a good balance with a lot of youth and some good experience.

“Yes, we are confident, but we are very aware there are teams that could throw anything at us, so we need to take it one game at a time, focus on the process and follow the plan.

“I am pretty confident about how we will go if we keep playing the way we are playing.”

The Perth Thundersticks will next face the Brisbane Blaze at 6pm on Saturday 15 October at the Perth Hockey Stadium at Curtin University.

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