Helen Housby and Sophie Fawns celebrate after a goal
UNSW Science student Sophie Fawns (right) has been impressive in her elevation to Suncorp Super Netball. Photo: NSW Swifts

It's never the way anyone wants to be given an opportunity. When NSW Swifts' indominitable goal shooter Sam Wallace went down clutching her knee in the round one clash against crosstown rivals Giants Netball, fans held their breath as one. Unfortunately it was, as everyone feared, an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury, which takes approximately 12 months to rehabilitate.

While it was terrible news for Wallace, it opened a door for UNSW Elite Athlete Program member and science student Sophie Fawns, selected as a training partner for the Swifts for the first time this year, after moving to Sydney from her home in Wagga. It is not the way the 18-year-old would have imagined making her Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) debut, but she knew it was one she needed to take. 

With her team struggling against competition heavyweights Melbourne Vixens Fawns exploded onto the court in goal attack, immediately taking a centre pass, backing up in the goal third and shooting a confident goal - all within 30 seconds of stepping on court in her debut.

Fawns continued her role as a temporary replacement player for Wallace for Heritage Round - which celebrates the history of the Swifts and sees the players dressed in the iconic yellow and blue uniforms from the club's beginnings in 1997. In front of a passionate crowd and many of the Swifts' alumni, Fawns again made a huge impression, shooting 24 goals from 27 attempts at 89% accuracy, along with 11 feeds and seven goal assists.

When she entered the court at the start of the second quarter, the Swifts were down by two goals to the Collingwood Magpies and lacking drive and energy. Fawns' injections sparked a momentum shift and the Swifts went on to dominate the game and take out their first win of the season, finishing 75-64 over their Melbourne rivals.

Fawns has been selected to represent the NSW Under 19s team in the National Netball Championships in Hobart next week, however this star on the rise may be headed for bigger things. If she is retained by the Swifts as a replacment for Wallace, she may instead be staying at home to prepare for a match against the Sunshine Coast Lightning.

We will be following Fawns' progress throughout this exciting 2022 season and talking to fans, commentators and coaches about her prospects so please stay tuned to our UNSW Sport channels as we explore this exciting new world with her. Already she has caught the eye of Australian Diamonds selectors as a player to watch for the future, so no doubt there are very big things in her future.