NSW Swifts captain delivers ultimate praise for latest teenage star
Sarah Klau, Maddy Proud and Maddy Turner are from Adelaide, Kate Eddy is a Victorian while Helen Housby (England) and Sam Wallace (Trinidad) bring an international flavour.
Only McCulloch, Paige Hadley and Claire O'Brien are locals, which has led Akle to devote a significant chunk of the pre-season to instilling the Swifts' culture in her troops.
"We've actually gone back to our roots a little bit at the Swifts, we've looked at our history over the last six months, we've spoken to past players and what it meant to them to be a Swift," McCulloch said.
"That's very important for us, especially the girls that haven't been at the Swifts for very long or [who are] not from NSW, just to understand how important this club is, not just to the players but to NSW and the netball community.
"It's really nice to look across and see Briony on the sideline just giving that nice, good, constructive feedback instead of not giving us anything."
Past players are also being encouraged to form a bond with the newest crop, which led to Selina Hornibrook (nee Gilsenan) penning an email to the team in the lead up to Sunday's win.
"It was nice to just see what she felt like to be a Swift," McCulloch said.
"It really resonated for myself in particular being from NSW, just to understand how important this club still is to those players is really nice."
Akle has also imparted a heavy focus on improving the Swifts' mental strength.
"We've had our sports psych in training every couple of weeks and we go through really stringent strategies that we know we're going to face at some point," McCulloch said.
"We've been practicing those sorts of things for those dying moments when it is their centre pass and they have time to score, we don't want to give them time to score especially with points on the line for quarter wins."
The Swifts finished the opening round in equal second place with the Giants, having secured two bonus points from winning two quarters against the Firebirds, and travel to Melbourne this weekend to play the fifth-placed Vixens.
James Buckley writes on AFL for The Sydney Morning Herald.
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