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The Just Better Care Wollongong Roller Hawks are back in action this Saturday for Round 3 of the NSW Waratah League with Illawarra hosting proceedings.

The Roller Hawks field two teams in Division 1, Illawarra Hawks Red and Illawarra Hawks White in partnership with Basketball Illawarra and while the two sides will be looking to hold home court advantage against division rivals the All Stars and Blacktown in their early games, there’ll be no hometown edge when the two sides go head to head in a showcase game at the Snakepit later in the evening.

Waratah League Hannah Dodd Brett Stibners

Basketball Illawarra General Manager Oscar Forman says putting on the special event at the Snakepit is an opportunity for Basketball Illawarra to extend their support of the Waratah League and highlight the wheelchair basketball talent in the region.

“We’ve got so many Roller Hawks players in the teams doing very well so for them to be able to play at the Snakepit, NBL1 season has just finished and everyone still has that excitement about basketball. So before the NBL season starts in a couple of months, get people down, get them to become fans so hopefully that grows for next year so we can then have more of those games here at the Snakepit,” says Forman.

Forman revealing the personal motivation in turning the game into a showpiece.

“My daughter is six, she loves coming to the NBL1 games and she hasn’t experienced a wheelchair basketball game. It’s something my wife is really passionate about and I think for my daughter to be able to see it and then start to understand athletes of different ability is great.”

For Roller Hawk Luke Pople, going head to head with his national league teammates brings out an extra level of competitiveness.

“We get to do it all the time at training but once there’s a couple of whistles involved it gets serious and we know what each other is going  to do, what each other's strengths are, it’s just always fun to compete,” says Pople.

The Roller Hawks contingent are aiming to shake off their Grand Final loss at the Wheelchair League Tournament two weeks ago.

“We knew it was going to be tough, and we knew we had to work hard to get the win but unfortunately things didn’t go our way.” 

“Knowing that we couldn’t go back to back five times is pretty disappointing but it reignites us and pushes us to push harder and train harder and look forward to next season.”

The Waratah League wheelchair competition is in its second year with 10 teams from Newcastle, Central Coast, Canberra, Illawarra and Sydney spread across two divisions.

Currently Illawarra White leads Division 1 with Illawarra Red sitting in second.

The Illawarra Hawks White features 4 time Paralympian Brett Stibners, current Australian Glider Hannah Dodd as well as Roller Hawks teammates Nick Taylor, Jarrod Emeny, and Darren Hayes, along with James Williams, Didem Yildirim, Javier Jimenez and Steve Elliott.

The Illawarra Hawks Red line up includes Australian Rollers Tristan Knowles and Shawn Russell, Commonwealth Gold medalist Luke Pople, Roller Hawk Tim-Rushby-Smith along with Brian Gardner, Mitch Stone and former Roller Hawks Eino Okkonen and Mark Hutchins.

“We’re going to be going at each other, we’re not going to take a backwards step. We both want to win and we both want to be the best team in the Waratah League,” adds Pople.

Play gets underway at Shellharbour City Stadium from 10am on Saturday with two divisions in action before the showcase event at Beaton Park from 5pm. 

The Snakepit doors open at 4pm with the His Boy Elroy food truck serving burgers and the bar also open. Entry is free.



11:10am All Stars vs Illawarra Hawks Red Shellharbour City Stadium

12:20pm Illawarra Hawks White vs Blacktown Shellharbour City Stadium

2:40pm Blacktown vs All Stars Shellharbour City Stadium

5:00pm Illawarra Hawks Red vs Illawarra Hawks White Snakepit, Beaton Park