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Every team at the one venue, not just for one round but every round? Now that would be MAGIC!

Such is the scenario for the National Wheelchair Basketball League (NWBL) when it commences at Shellharbour City Stadium on May 28th with every team descending on the Illawarra for three days of fast and furious wheelchair basketball action.


Generally the NWBL will start the season with this format, known as a ‘Cluster Round’ before moving into a home and away format. The decision to play the entire season under Cluster Rounds, with each remaining NWBL club hosting a round is a result of several teams opting not to field teams in this year’s competition. 

Melbourne side the Kilsyth Cobras and the West Adelaide Bearcats chose not to play due to COVID while the Western Australia based Red Dust Heelers have chosen to focus on their off-court community programs this year.

Sureway Roller Hawks captain Brett Stibners says there’s a silver lining to the withdrawals.

“It’s unfortunate that a few teams have had to pull out but it’s actually strengthened the remaining teams,” says Stibners.

All four remaining teams have added players from the sides sitting out with Perth recruiting Australian low pointer Jannik Blair from Red Dust and the Queensland Spinning Bullets adding an Australian low pointer of their own in Sam White from West Adelaide. 

“I think the top team will be Perth and we’ll be thereabouts. Jannik coming back will make a huge difference for them. He’ll relieve some pressure on Shawn Norris. Kim Robbins is back, a three pointer for the Aussie team, he’s phenomenal as well so they’ll be very, very strong.”

The Sydney Metro Blue Hornets have added four players to their team with John McPhail returning and the Hornets also picking up Kilsyth trio Jontee Brown, Damon Fent and Jeremy Tyndall.

The Roller Hawks also have a major addition of their own with local junior Tristan Knowles returning to the play for the Roller Hawks this year after eight years playing for Kilsyth.

The 2019 NWBL scoring champion was supposed to return to the Roller Hawks in 2020, but that was delayed after COVID cancelled last year’s season.

“It’s fantastic having Tristan back playing with us. Hometown boy, he was here from day dot so it's really good to have him back,” says Stibners.

“Scoring, team camaraderie. He’s one of the most positive people you’ll ever meet. He raises the level of everyone around him.”

Knowles is still based in Melbourne but will fly into Wollongong ahead of each round to prepare with the team.

“It might take a little bit of time to adjust but once he does and once we start moving that ball around he’s going to realise he’s going to get open layups, open shots so I think he’ll learn pretty quick and I think he’ll really enjoy playing with us.”

Coach Brendan Dowler also expects Knowles to fit in quickly thanks to his familiarity with the players and the Roller Hawks program.

“You’d much prefer to have your players living and residing near where you’re training and available for training but he’s going to be coming in early the week before and hopefully we’ll get a couple of training sessions in but he’s been around so long and he knows everyone on the team so I don’t expect too many problems for him to fit in.”

The Roller Hawks begin their campaign with a grand final rematch against the Queensland Spinning Bullets at 7:30pm on Friday, 28th May. The curtain raiser will see the U23s Australian Spinners take on the Sydney Metro Blue Hornets at 5:30pm.

For the full draw go to https://rollerhawks.com.au/draw.html