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The Just Better Care Wollongong Roller Hawks are taking nothing for granted going into this weekend’s Wheelchair League Tournament, the sport’s pinnacle Australian event for 2023 in the absence of the regular National Wheelchair Basketball League (NWBL). 

“A lot of energy, a lot of positive energy which is great, we’re only a week out, we’re really looking forward to it,” says Roller Hawks coach Brendan Dowler.


The Roller Hawks have won the last 4 straight NWBL titles (2017, 2018, 2019, 2022) but face a new challenge in the form of the ‘winner takes all’ tournament.


“The tournament approach is a little bit different to the usual season and the grind week in week out and playing regularly and we sort of lead into it (finals weekend) but it’s sort of all or nothing on the one weekend.”

2023 Brendan Dowler

The tournament consists of four teams including the Roller Hawks, last year’s runners up Perth Wheelcats, second year team the Darwin Salties and Queensland who this year will play under the banner of Brisbane based association Southern Districts Spartans. 


The Roller Hawks will play all three sides over two days before the top two advance to Sunday’s Gold Medal Game with the remaining two sides playing off for Bronze.


“We really need to be conscious of our energy levels and our rotations and how we approach things so we will have to do things a little bit differently but we’re preparing well so far and we’ve got some plans that will hopefully work out for us over the weekend,” added Dowler.


One new approach is in the form of Steven Elliott. The 28 year old is fresh off his first professional contract in Italy and is signed to play in Germany later this year.


“I’m just trying to bring a bit more speed and depth into the team. Get down the court quicker so we can set up our offense and bring a solid defence as well,” says Elliott.


Elliott links up with the Roller Hawks after his partner and training buddy, Roller Hawk Hannah Dodd, put in a good word for him with the rest of the team and asked if there was a spot available for the upcoming tournament.


“He does bring another element, he’s fast and maneuverable in his wheelchair so he gives us another look not that our other players aren’t that as well but Steve’s another level above that,” says Dowler.


Elliott’s pace has been welcomed by the team’s veterans.

“The addition of Steve is going to make a really big difference,” says captain Brett Stibers.

“Especially for us old guys like me and Nick Taylor, he’s super quick and he’s going to work really well within the team.”


“The way we’ll need to approach the weekend and perhaps cycling through more players and giving players a rest, having Steve on board is definitely going to be a big advantage for us.”


“We know our strengths, we know our weaknesses so as long as we can play to those and get in our positions where we can shoot really well, we should be good.”


The Roller Hawks fly to Brisbane on Thursday ahead of the tournament's start on Friday. All games can be streamed on the Wheelchair Leagues website 





Moreton Bay Basketball Inc, 298B Morayfield Rd, Morayfield QLD


Wheelchair League Cup 14 July FRI 9:00am

Wollongong Roller Hawks

Vs Southern District Spartans MBB
Wheelchair League Cup 14 July FRI 7.00pm Darwin Salties Vs

Wollongong Roller Hawks

Wheelchair League Cup 15 July SAT 12.00pm

Wollongong Roller Hawks

Vs Perth Wheelcats MBB
Wheelchair League Cup 16 July SUN 9:00am Bronze Medal Game     MBB
Wheelchair League Cup 16 July SUN 3:00pm Gold Medal Game     MBB