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A top of the table clash between the Sureway Wollongong Roller Hawks and the Perth Wheelcats headlines Round 4 of the NWBL with four of the country’s best wheelchair basketball teams descending on the Illawarra this weekend.


The Roller Hawks remain the only undefeated team in this year’s competition but two wins to the visiting Wheelcats could see them draw level with the competition pacesetters.


Tensions will be high when the two sides take the court after their round 1 clash saw former Roller Hawk Michael Auprince ejected from the game after receiving a technical foul and an unsportsmanlike foul, resulting in an automatic dismissal in the shadows of half time. 


Auprince’s departure cost the Wheelcats dearly with the Roller Hawks getting a comfortable win thanks to a 51-28 second half. With Auprince back in the line up and with more time to gel as a group, the Roller Hawks know Perth will be a different proposition this weekend.

Round 2 Sunday Luke

The match up against Perth comes just a week after a Roller Hawks contingent including Brett Stibners, Shawn Russell, Tim Markcrow and Luke Pople spent a week in camp with the Aussie Rollers which included Auprince and Perth and Australian captain Shaun Norris. 


“We don’t get to spend a lot of time with each other so when we are together we do a lot scrimmages, a lot offensive and defensive drills and we don’t have a wasted session, we’re always pushing.” says Luke Pople.


Coach Brendan Dowler, a former Australian representative himself, recognises the value of his best players mixing it with the country’s other star players. 


“The players come back from the camp with a higher level of confidence. They’ve been there playing and competing against the best in the country. There’s really good coaching, really good facilities at the Institute of Sport in Canberra so what they bring back is invaluable.” says Dowler.


In the Roller Hawks’ other games, the side will take on the Red Dust Heelers. In addition to the valuable competition points, the two sides will also be playing for the Woolkabunning Kiaka Cup. 


Woolkabunning Kiaka (wool-ka-bunning key-aka) which is Noongar for "been there, left and returned to the place of many hills” represents the group of Elders and members of the Stolen Generation who grew up at Roelands in Western Australia, who have been fierce supporters of the Heelers.


To recognise and pay respect to those members of the Stolen Generation, not only from Roelands but across the country, The Heelers put it to the Roller Hawks to start the Woolkabunning Kiaka Cup, a trophy they would return to playing for every year - best out of 3 games.


“The Roller Hawks did not hesitate to commit to this initiative and over the years have gone above and beyond to show their commitment to also spreading disability awareness and participation in sport and connecting with Indigenous people with disabilities in their community.” says the Heelers’ Kathleen O'Kelly-Kennedy


“The Heelers are very grateful for the bond the WK Cup has created between the two clubs and for the positive impact this bond has had on the greater community over the years.”


The Roller Hawks lay claim to the trophy after winning last year’s series 2-1 and currently lead this year’s 3 games series 1-0 after defeating the Red Dust Heelers in Round 1.


In order to spread the inclusivity message even further, the Roller Hawks will be live streaming Friday’s game on their Facebook page from 6:45pm thanks to 84 Media and Set4Life Financial Services with commentary from David “Macca” McFarland. 


Meanwhile the Sydney Metro Blue Hornets have strengthened their push to return to finals basketball with the arrival of French international Sofyane Mehiaoui. Mehiaoui, who has played professionally in Europe for over 10 years is the league’s first French import and will make his debut this weekend at the Mini-Cluster.


The Mini Cluster is proudly supported by Shellharbour City Council.



Friday June 28: WHEELCATS vs BLUE HORNETS - 5pm @ Shellharbour City Stadium

Friday June 28: ROLLER HAWKS vs RED DUST HEELERS - 7pm @ Shellharbour City Stadium


Saturday June 29: ROLLER HAWKS vs WHEELCATS - 9am @ Shellharbour City Stadium

Saturday June 29: BLUE HORNETS vs RED DUST HEELERS - 11am @ Shellharbour City Stadium


Saturday June 29: ROLLER HAWKS vs RED DUST HEELERS - 5pm @ Shellharbour City Stadium

Saturday June 29: WHEELCATS vs BLUE HORNETS - 7pm @ Shellharbour City Stadium


Sunday June 30: ROLLER HAWKS vs WHEELCATS - 10am @ Snakepit Beaton Park


Sunday June 30: BLUE HORNETS vs RED DUST HEELERS - 12pm @ Snakepit Beaton Park