Category: International

2020 ANZ Premiership: Round 5 – Player of the Week

EACH week Draft Central will analyse player performances from across the round in the ANZ Premiership and determine a “Player of the Week” based on game day performances. A player can be nominated as many times as deemed necessary given their individual performance across the round.

While her team may not have gotten a win on the board in Round 5, one cannot doubt or disregard the four quarter effort of Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic captain, Sam Winders. As consistent as they come, Winders’ attitude and hunt on the game is credit to her ability to switch on and propel her team forward on every single opportunity. With intensity both on the drive and pressurising the midcourt defence, Winders treasures the ball and creates space and opportunity for her teammates to turnover the ball and apply pressure down the centre of the court. 

Winders chased every single loose ball, able to use her turn of speed to traverse the court with ease to zip into position and gain possession in a split second. She constantly plies her trade in both centre and wing defence, able to assert herself in attack with her clever footwork to evade opposition and send ball into the circle, but also use her defensive prowess to apply impressive hands over pressure, deflect the airball and create unsuspecting turnovers. She is a workhorse, always a few steps ahead of the play and working to win ball back as soon as the ball comes back her way.

While Magic missed out on wins again this week, the side is continuously improving and with Winders at the helm leading by example, there is no doubt her influence out the front forms a crucial cog around the court, always formidable and causing stoppages with her aerial ability and threatening impact. Winders can find purchase on circle edge, whether to deflect crucial ball defensively or to serve ball on a silver platter to feed to the likes of Kelsey McPhee and Abigail Latu-Meafou with ease. 

In her two matches in Round 5, Winders combined for 16 goal assists from 21 feeds – switching between both centre and wing defence in both games – and three gains, while she racked up five pickups in her second match credit to her constant chase and ability to come off the body to intercept crucial ball. Despite tiring throughout her matches, Winders was consistent and did not let up against her respective opposition across the two games in Tactix’ Kimiora Poi and Erikana Pedersen and Northern Stars’ Grace Kara and Mila Reuelu-Buchanan. Winders was stellar limiting Poi’s impact in their matchup on Monday night, and while Pedersen was awarded player of the match Winders was more than a match when she took on Pedersen, using her physicality to block vision in attack and form a key defensive plug down back.

Netball Draft Central: Volunteer writing opportunities

WITH Suncorp Super Netball around the corner the team at Netball Draft Central are looking for fresh faces to join the team. Already covering the ANZ Premiership this season, we are hoping to find volunteer writers who are interested in both competitions and have a passion for all things netball. 

In the past we have covered other leagues such as the Vitality Netball Superleague along with a host of Australian competitions such as the Australian Netball League (ANL), Victorian Netball League (VNL) and M-League, but have not been able to do so this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This diverse coverage of netball allows Draft Central to have a point of difference from many other netball news outlets catering specifically to netball fans across the globe. 

We are looking for minimum second year media/journalism students that have an interest in sport, particularly netball and are wanting to gain valuable experience with a dedicated team of writers. 

Writing skills, dedication, flexibility, and effective communication are all crucial characteristics to be a part of the Draft Central team. While writing experience is preferable it is not a necessity for this role.

If you are interested, please email Sophie Taylor at sophie.t@rookieme.com

ANZ Premiership – Round 5: Pulse survive nailbiter against error-ridden Steel

SOUTHERN Steel pushed the Central Pulse in Round 4 of the ANZ Premiership, and while they backed it up a week on, the Pulse treasured ball and maintained accuracy for a close 40-37 victory. It was the Pulse’s continuous drive that propelled them to a sixth straight victory, with the close finish for the Steel soured by a late injury.

Pulse started strong as ever, pinning down the attacking third well in the beginning to limit Steel’s speed in attack. A couple handy loose ball-gets early on saw the Steel take an early three goal lead, before Pulse switched into once more to steal back some momentum. But the midpoint of the term saw the Pulse draw level, with the side slow to start but quicker to get into their regular rhythm. 

A couple of pickups from Shannon Saunders early proved that the Steel had come to play, putting pressure on through the midcourt but where Saunders did it the entire Pulse side went one better on the defence, forcing Steel into short, sharp passes in attack. While the Steel maintained patience and did not try to take risks, Trinidad and Tobago product Kalifa McCollin still injected her usual flair, finding clever avenues to Jennifer O’Connell at the post. 

But where the Steel were solid up forward, sloppiness down back from Taneisha Fifita allowed too many easy attempts at goal for the highly accurate Pulse goalers in Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Aliyah Dunn. Defensively, the Steel were on fire early putting a wealth of pressure on the Pulse attack unit but threw away just as much as they gained, only coming away with a one goal lead at the first change.

The match continued virtually goal for goal, with Maddy Gordon finding plenty of purchase on circle edge, but small errors back-to-back from Dunn handed the Steel a couple of crucial opportunities. However, inaccuracy plagued O’Connell and McCollin, sitting on 65 per cent accuracy in the second thanks to impressive defensive pressure and box-outs from Katrina Rore and Kelly Jury. While Steel appeared to have much of the momentum early, critical errors saw Pulse take the lead with under five minutes left in the term, seeing Steel in real danger of fazing out of the match heading into half-time. 

While the patient approach by the Steel early on seemed to work, pressure from the Pulse saw movement stagnate in the second which allowed the top side to gain some precious ball. Though Saunders continued to have her way finding plenty of turnover ball through the centre, matched well by Claire Kersten who gave Saunders a run for her money on the deflection tally. But the Steel managed to retain a two-goal buffer throughout a frantic last minute, seeing Pulse just ahead but the Steel within touching distance. With persistent contact calls plaguing Fifita, the young goal keeper was handed a caution late in the second, having tallied eight contact penalties by half-time. 

With just two goals in it coming into the second half, one side had to give. The Steel injected some better speed in the third, finding faster options to post but wasted opportunities from McCollin and O’Connell saw Pulse maintain the lead, with Jury getting into O’Connell’s head. It was a better third quarter from the Pulse, finding a bit more purchase in attack though the Steel continued to keep them on their toes and forcing some uncharacteristic errors from the usually composed attack. 

Kate Heffernan was solid, applying constant pressure on Gordon and seeing the pair almost cancel each other out with their consistent shadowing. McCollin’s speed saw the goal attack continue to evade Rore, though the Pulse defensive unit did a solid job limiting Steel’s ability to drive toward the ball in attack. The Pulse began to pull away toward the end of the third, maintaining momentum and holding ground against the tenacious and ball hungry Steel side.

Tiana Metuarau joined the fray out in wing attack to start the final quarter, with the speedster injecting a bit of flair into the Pulse attack. Continued errors and hesitance in front of goal from the Steel saw the Pulse begin to pull away, with accuracy on the shot proving crucial. Where the match may have seemed sealed up early in the final quarter, the Steel had a much more composed second half of the term and really began to push back, absorbing the pressure in attack and winning back critical ball in defence before the ball could reach the circle. 

With the match on the line, the Steel were on a roll and looked to be in with a real chance, until the worst case scenario played out with O’Connell going down with a suspected knee injury and less than a minute on the clock. Two goals down with 55 seconds on the clock Steel’s Kiana Pelasio entered the court in goal attack, but it was not enough with the Pulse happy to ferret away the time and finish with a sombre 40-37 victory.

The Pulse may have had another scare with a potential loss on their hands this week but were too good with quality names bookending the court. Player of the match Jury was silent but deadly in defence, racking up seven gains while Kersten was solid with three intercepts. Despite just playing the three quarters, Gordon led the Pulse assists tally with 13 from 17 feeds, joined by Ekenasio with nine assists and 17 goals from 20 attempts. Dunn finished well with 23 goals at 92 per cent to lead on accuracy. Rore had a quiet match when it came to her usual flair, but was consistent as ever with the four gains and only five penalties to her name.

While the Steel had more attempts on goal for the second match running, it was their inaccuracy at the post that was the real kicker. O’Connell was sturdy at the post but came away with 25 goals at 73 per cent, while McCollin was electric out the front with 12 goals from 17 attempts and eight assists. Saunders racked up three intercepts, while Gina Crampton did much of the heavy lifting in wing attack with 15 assists, 19 centre pass receives and a potentially game saving intercept in the final term to really put the pressure on. Defensively, Te Huinga Selby-Rickit and Fifita were consistent but did not do enough to put off the Pulse, seeing the pair only combine for two intercepts. 

Steel are unlucky coming out of this loss and injury scare with a back-to-back match on Saturday night against Northern Stars – the only team they have beaten thus far – and will now need to work a different goaler into their game plan. Meanwhile the Pulse have a week off, not back on the court until Round 6.

>>> PULSE TEAM PAGE

>>> STEEL TEAM PAGE

>>> FULL MATCH STATS

CENTRAL PULSE 11 | 11 | 11 | 7 (40)
SOUTHERN STEEL 12 | 8 | 9 | 8 (37)

STARTING SEVEN:

PULSE:

GS: Aliyah Dunn
GA: Ameliaranne Ekenasio
WA: Maddy Gordon
C: Claire Kersten
WD: Karin Burger
GD: Katrina Rore
GK: Kelly Jury

STEEL:

GS: Jennifer O’Connell
GA: Kalifa McCollin
WA: Gina Crampton
C: Shannon Saunders
WD: Kate Heffernan
GD: Te Huinga Selby-Rickit
GK: Taneisha Fifita

What if….. The VNSL introduced the Super Shot?

THE introduction of the two-goal Super Shot to the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) has been the biggest shock to the netball community in recent history. Coaches, players and the biggest names in netball across the world have come forward with their thoughts on the introduction of the controversial rule change. But what would happen if the UK followed in the footsteps of the SSN and introduced a reward for long-range shooting?

No team would benefit more from this rule change than Wasps Netball. Renowned as the “long bomb queen” Rachel Dunn has a habit of slotting them from anywhere in the circle, and even from outside when it comes to Fast 5. She was the MVP at the British Fast 5 All Stars in 2018 and just missed out on that title in 2019 to the formidable Jo Harten. Backed up by Katie Harris and Alexia Baker, Wasps would be unstoppable if they managed to keep the score close during the first ten minutes of each quarter. With the experienced Dunn at the post, and their exciting defensive line of Fran Williams and Hannah Knights creating plenty of turnover ball, they would be back on top as the team to beat.

London Pulse’s Chiara Semple is another master of the long bomb. With good accuracy from range and the typical New Zealand confidence to post, Semple would most likely benefit from the Super Shot rule, as she typically shoots from distance anyway. With Sigi Burger standing at 6′ 5″ under the post for the rebound, Pulse could fire these off all day long. Especially given their exciting form at the start of the 2020 season, this would add another advantage to the already improving side. Another team with confidence in their attack end is Team Bath. You would expect youngster Sophie Drakeford-Lewis to rise to the challenge of a two-goal shot if it were introduced, and her connection with Kim Commane would provide a strong starting point.

Two England Roses who do not shy away from a long ranger are Ellie Cardwell and George Fisher for Manchester Thunder and Saracens Mavericks respectively. These two have such great composure on their shot and have both been going from strength to strength over the past few seasons. Whilst Fisher usually takes the majority of her shots from under the post, she is accurate from anywhere, memorably sinking one from near the transverse line in Fast 5. For Thunder, Cardwell has so much strength on the hold and knows how to create space for herself to find good mid-range shooting position. Given her skill in the circle, it would not be hard for her to transition into an exciting long-range shooter. Both of these teams benefit from strong and experienced shooting partnerships, Fisher with Kadeen Corbin, and Cardwell with Kathryn Turner, giving them the edge over teams with only young blood in the attacking end. Saracens Mavericks also have the advantage of defensive mastermind Razia Quashie, as well as tall tower Jo Trip, to scoop up any stray shots and build pressure at the back.

Both Celtic Dragons and Severn Stars have potential secret weapons when it comes to shooting from further away from the post. Jamaican import Rebekah Robinson has fantastic movement in the circle for Dragons and is a playmaker with the ability to shoot long when needed. England Fast Nets player Lucy Herdman delighted fans with her distance shooting at Fast 5 in 2019, leading Dragons to their first-ever semi-final in the competition. She now plies her trade for Severn Stars and while we did not see much of her on court during the short 2020 season, Herdman would be a valuable asset for Stars to have up their sleeve.

The remaining teams would probably struggle to keep up based on their current shooting strengths. Loughborough Lightning’s Ella Clark does have the experience shooting from range due to her basketball background, however her accuracy can sometimes falter when she is under heavy defensive pressure. Another team that would need to improve their accuracy to post are Strathclyde Sirens. Lynsey Gallagher can be a real threat, and as a shorter goal attack, she does tend to take shots from further out. However Sirens are usually less accurate than other teams on their goal conversion, and in a situation where shots are worth more than one point, this could really hurt their chances. For Surrey Storm, their issues lie in other areas of the court. Karen Bailey typically shoots from under the post, and while Sophie Hankin is a possible threat from further out, Storm would need to stay in touch with other teams to secure wins. After a shaky start to 2020 they will be rebuilding, and hopefully will have secured some of their structures by the time netball resumes.

Netball fans in the UK, like many in Australia, are generally not keen for the introduction of the Super Shot in the VNSL. Sara Bayman has been openly critical of the decision on the Netball Nation podcast, stating that the rule change moves even further away from the international game. She accused the new rule of “sabotaging your own national team” and believes it is likely to bring more bad news for the Diamonds. However, Tamsin Greenway has claimed this is a chance for netball to evolve and suggests we will see a move away from the tall holding shooter slotting them in from under the ring. Clubs in the UK may be glad this is being trialled down under and not in the VNSL during such a time of uncertainty for netball in the UK. Due to the backlash from netball fans in the UK, it seems unlikely that such a bold move would be considered, especially when the influence of broadcasters in England is much lower than in Australia.

2020 ANZ Premiership – Head to Head: Round 5

IN each ANZ Premiership round we will identify one key match-up, provide an in-depth analysis of both players and compare the two styles. This match-up sees two current Silver Ferns go head to head for the second time this season.

MAINLAND TACTIX v. NORTHERN MYSTICS

Te Paea Selby-Rickit (GA) v. Phoenix Karaka (GD)

Two impressive players with a wealth of experience on both the domestic and international stages, the likes of Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Phoenix Karaka will go head-to-head for the second time in as many matches on Sunday, with Karaka ultimately having the last word in Round 4. But the real question in this matchup is whether she can hold down Selby-Rickit once more, with Selby-Rickit fading out last round but unlikely to make the same mistake again. Second and third on the ladder, neither the Mystics nor Tactix can afford a loss with the closeness of the shortened season at hand, with potential to stray further from ladder-leading Central Pulse who sit undefeated in first.

A formidable opponent in attack, Selby-Rickit is one of those threatening goalers who can provide a quality option regardless of whether she is in-form or not. Providing a consistent option at the centre pass, Selby-Rickit uses her break-out speed to burst out from the transverse line to start that first faze, before jetting down to the goal circle to not only put up shots from just about anywhere in the circle, but also use her quick footwork to rotate the circle and open up space for her goaling partner in crime in Ellie Bird. With strength, speed and versatility, Selby-Rickit can also provide a barrier with her long arms to block play and win back ball, proving a solid all-rounder in attack with her constant work-rate rarely letting up. Unafraid of the long bomb, Selby-Rickit is a force to be reckoned with in the goal circle and uses her solid build to assert herself on the play, while her quick hands allow her to dish off speedy passes to Bird under the post with ease. She also pairs well in attack with the likes of Erikana Pedersen and Kimiora Poi, with Poi’s defensive outset allowing Selby-Rickit to be a major playmaker alongside Pedersen. While she does provide a consistent threat, Selby-Rickit has had a rough few weeks on the court and currently ranks eighth for goals scored, and also has the lowest accuracy at 73 per cent. 

Karaka is a constant threat defensively, using her vision and read of the play to prey on any loose ball and pounce on opportunities to propel the ball forward. When it comes to her positioning, Karaka is a consistent follower of the play, never far from the action with her speed and aerial ability. Able to adapt to the play and ply her trade depending on her oppositions’ movement, Karaka uses her lithe build to form a defensive barricade both in and outside the goal circle. Karaka is one of the cleanest defenders going around, which makes her an imposing impact player given her ability to disrupt momentum even without being a physical threat, having impressively only racked up 40 penalties from five matches this season. Karaka’s aerial game is phenomenal and threateningly consistent, sitting top of the table for intercepts with 11 to her name, able to use her long arms to command possession of the ball and pull it in. Her three-foot marking and leap is also impressive, and while she is not the tallest defender can find plenty of purchase on the airball to take possession with ease. Joining forces with Sulu Fitzpatrick this season, the duo work seamlessly to reduce the impact of their opposition goalers and will hope to provide the same buffer again this weekend.

With both players highly impressive with an ability to seamlessly perform time and time again, it is more a question of consistency that will find a winner in this scenario. If Karaka can hold Selby-Rickit accountable and force errors the Mystics should go back-to-back, however if Selby-Rickit can take advantage of Karaka’s hunt on the ball and find space in attack, the Tactix could be in with a chance. There was plenty of argy-bargy between the two players last round, so look for another enticing matchup this time around with plenty on the line.

Where to next for Victorian Super Netball teams?

WITH Victoria sent back into lockdown for a minimum six week period due to the rapid rise of COVID-19 cases in the state it poses many questions for the upcoming Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) season. SSN is set to commence on August 1 but with Victorian borders shut there is no chance of teams flying in or out of the state on a weekly basis. The element of a required 14 day quarantine must also be taken into account when looking into the logistics of how the 2020 season will run and the implications this lockdown will have on the competition as a whole. Quarantine and a lack of facilities such as Melbourne Arena being unavailable as a result of the Victorian lockdown ultimately throw the competition into a spin when it comes to fixturing, since the league has agreed to hosting a complete 60 round season.

With both the Collingwood Magpies and Melbourne Vixens based in Melbourne, Super Netball have to make a decision on how to deal with the two clubs. As seen with the AFL, NRL and A-League, all of the Victorian teams have fled or are in the process of leaving the state to ensure the remainder of the season is viable, something SSN will have to consider in order for the season to actually go ahead. While it is an expensive prospect, weighing up the cost of accommodation, flights and facilities for both the Vixens and Magpies, it is one that must be done to ensure the longevity of the competition.

It is clear that for the season to go ahead the two Victorian teams must find a new home, despite already missing the cut off date to leave the state. But the big question is where do they go? As discussed on this week’s episode of the Centre Pass Podcast, the options of taking solace in New South Wales and Queensland are the glaringly obvious choices for the Victorian sides with both states playing host to two teams and also boasting recently refurbished stadiums. The Queensland Firebirds unveiled the Nissan Arena or Queensland State Netball centre last year fit with all the bells and whistles while the Sunshine Coast Lightning have already expressed their willingness for interstate teams to join them up in the Coast. The redevelopment of the Ken Rosewall Arena could also play a factor in getting the Victorian teams to set up shop in New South Wales. However, that is not to say that Western Australia and South Australia are not viable options given the quality of their facilities and are probably the cheaper option in terms of accommodation in comparison to the likes of Sydney and Queensland.

There is also a very limited chance of the SSN rescheduling or pushing the start back further as it runs into the international season with the Diamonds and Ferns confirming the annual Constellation Cup for late November. International netball is a huge drawcard for both countries and something Australia and New Zealand will be hoping to generate some money back into the netball sphere. Postponing the season could ultimately bring up issues surrounding venue fixturing as many sporting arenas are booked out years in advance given the high amounts of sport Australia plays host to.

While we all hope that it does not come to this stage, there is a small sliver of doubt that the season could not go ahead or that the Vixens and Magpies might not be able to compete given the recent developments in Victoria and the restrictions prohibiting them to travel. While the latter idea is unconventional and an extreme last resort, it could be the only way to salvage the season and ensure that some form of domestic netball is played in 2020.

Compare the Pair: Kelsey Browne and Peta Toeava

THE next instalment in the Draft Central’s Compare the Pair series will aim to analyse two fan favourites from different competitions, with the next showcasing midcourt attackers, Australia’s Kelsey Browne and New Zealand’s Peta Toeava

With plenty of breakout speed, class and feeding expertise, the likes of dynamic attackers Browne and Toeava are a force to be reckoned with on court. While both on the shorter side, their respective ability to find not only the space but the ball too makes them crucial players on court, able to change a game in a split second. Meanwhile, the pair also provide handy cogs at the transverse line, taking on that first faze of the play and continually backing up their respective efforts with speed and vision. With plenty of strength, consistency and a workrate to match, both Browne and Toeava have plenty of quality attributes any team would want to have on their side.

An energiser bunny with quick thinking on the pass and an ability to serve the ball on a silver platter to her attackers, Browne is one of those players who cannot be left alone for a moment. Her innate ability to find space through the midcourt and attack the play allow her to be a consistent and threatening option across the court, using her game smarts to switch on and provide a quality option on circle edge. Her vision is second to none and gives her plenty of opportunity to propel ball into the goal circle, using her dynamic movement and quick feet to dart around her defender to apply pressure in attack. While Browne was expected to miss much of the 2020 Suncorp Super Netball season due to an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury last year, fans will hope the Magpies will benefit off the delayed start to the season with potential for Browne to return earlier than expected.

With little hesitance and plenty of confidence on the assist, there is no doubt Toeava has been a quality midcourter for the Mystics this season, proving crucial with her quick hands and evasive footwork to find the ball with ease. Her ability to open up space for her teammates sees her play a critical role in every match, using her vision well to spot the way the play will head and provide a handy link through the midcourt. With impressive vision in attack, Toeava can ply her trade to feed into the circle from virtually anywhere in the goal third, using her evasive play to zip around her defender and propel ball straight to the post. Toeava is able to hold her ground well and while she is not the most defensively minded player, she is also consistently clean, able to apply pressure on the ball handler and attack the loose ball without finding too much of the whistle.

Kelsey Browne
18 caps, 2018-present

Peta Toeava
1 cap, 2018-present

INF rankings update – what has changed?

JULY 1 saw the release of the annual International Netball Federation (INF) World Rankings, with the 2020 update reflecting the most current form of international teams. With little international matches played thus far in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Draft Central breaks down the update and how the suspension of international play has influenced the rankings.

World rankings are crucial for determining nations’ entrance into certain international competitions, with formal updates made following major events and weightings redistributed every JulyAs of July 1, matches played prior to July 2017 are no longer used to determine rankings, as per the current system, with the INF confirming that “matches played between 1st July 2017 and 30th June 2019 now have a 50% weighting, while those played from 1st July 2019 onwards have a full weighting (100%)”.

Where usually rankings are obtained based on a minimum number of international matches, due to the current circumstances the INF has lowered the amount of matches from eight to six. This allows countries that may not have played matches due to the suspension of international play to retain their ranking.

Fortunately for Australia and despite the nation’s recent losses internationally – namely the 2018 Commonwealth Games and 2019 Netball World Cup gold – the nation has retained top spot on the world rankings once more, though current world champions New Zealand are inching up with a higher rating than in past updates. South Africa joins Australia and New Zealand as the only other top five nation to not change its position in fifth.

What are the biggest changes? 

In an unprecedented break from the sport as a whole, there are only a few changes that jump out compared to the most recent update prior to now, on May 29, 2020. England has jumped back into third despite dropping to fourth following the last update, after Jamaica’s performance in the inaugural Vitality Netball Nations Cup saw them overtake the Roses. However, with international matches on hold for longer than expected, the annual ranking update has seen the two nations swap back once more. 

Meanwhile, Malawi has moved back into the top six, seeing a direct positional swap between the Queens and the Uganda She-Cranes. The same goes for Zimbabwe and Barbados, with Zimbabwe’s success in the 2020 Netball World Cup combined with the removal of matches played prior to July 2017 helping the nation jump to 12th on the rankings and Barbados in 13th.

Of the remaining nations, the Cayman Islands moved up two places to 26th while Botswana moved down to 27th and Ireland followed suit, moving down to 28th. Antigua and Barbuda move up to 31st, while the biggest bolt is Namibia who move from 30th down to 23rd, and Lesotho joins the rankings, in at number 40.

UPDATED TOP 10

TEAM / RATING

1 Australia / 205
2 New Zealand / 182
3 England / 175 (up, from 4th to 3rd)
4 Jamaica / 175 (down, from 3rd to 4th)
5 South Africa / 150
6 Malawi / 126 (up, from 7th to 6th)
7 Uganda / 123 (down, from 6th to 7th)
8 Scotland / 114
9 Wales / 107
10 Trinidad & Tobago / 100

Note: For a full breakdown of how rankings are established, check out the International Netball Federation rankings.

>> WHO WILL BE WORLD NUMBER ONE BY THE END OF 2021?

Compare the Pair: Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Kiera Austin

THE next instalment in the Draft Central Compare the Pair series will aim to analyse two fan favourites from different competitions, with the next showcasing two goal attacks in Silver Ferns’ Te Paea Selby-Rickit and talented young Australian Kiera Austin.

Two highly skilled goalers in vastly different points of their careers, there is no doubt that the likes of Selby-Rickit and Austin play different roles for their respective teams, but it’s their ability to turn and shoot and apply pressure to take attention away from their goal shooter that they have in common. With clean hands, unsuspecting speed and a high work ethic, the duo can create plays and also be that go-to option at the post when required.

Selby-Rickit has a big presence on court and is one of those goal attacks that needs to be paid constant attention given her netball nous and ability to enter the contest with ease. Selby-Rickit has the build to really interrupt defensive motion and cause havoc with her accuracy and volume to post, especially from distance, allowing her to provide a constant threatening presence in goal attack. Selby-Rickit’s ability to provide an option in both goal attack and goal shooter makes her a quality option in any team, using her quick feet and quickfire passes to rotate the circle with ease, but can also provide a holding option at the post thanks to her 188cm frame and sticky fingers to be an aerial threat. With 46 caps to her name, Selby-Rickit has plenty of international experience and will hope to boost her resume once international competition returns.

Still in the early days of her career at only 22, Austin may not have yet officially debuted for Australia but has clearly proved she is one to watch, having taken the court in the 2018 Fast5 and as part of the side in the 2020 Bushfire Relief match. Her ability to evade her opposition is crucial while she has also proved to be a handy versatile option to rotate through virtually any of the main attacking positions, honing her wing attack craft last season. While she is likely to stay in that role in 2020, her clever ball placement and know-how will allow her to gain some precious court time and potentially rotate into the goal circle with the addition of the rolling subs rule in the Super Netball this season. Austin’s speed and ability to turn and shoot allow her to form a handy entrant to any team, using her vision to provide an option on circle edge or zip into position to apply scoreboard pressure. 

Te Paea Selby-Rickit

46 caps, 2016-present

Kiera Austin

Is Australian netball moving too far from the regular game?

WITH the introduction of the two goal Super Shot to the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) for season 2020, we delve into the rule changes in the SSN in recent seasons. While some rules have less impact than others, there is plenty to unpack when it comes to why fans and players alike are so frustrated with the changes to netball in Australia.

Starting with ultimately the most controversial and unpopular rule to-date, the two goal Super Shot. Its introduction has thrown a huge spanner in the works for clubs, coaches, players and fans alike six weeks out of from the beginning of the season. Already a contentious announcement, players were blindsided by the rule change, not consulted prior to the announcement on Tuesday and leaving many up in arms and confused by the decision to go ahead with the major rule change. 

With fan engagement one of the most important factors in Super Netball’s success, the league’s deliberate decision to go ahead with the rule change regardless of the unpopularity as shown in an earlier survey conducted by SSN itself, has alienated many fans and could see many turn away from the competition because of it. With a lot of netball fans real traditionalists in the way the game is played, a massive change like this will leave a lot of fans wondering whether they will continue to financially support a league that continues to move further and further away from the typical netball game.

In a media release issued by the Australian Netball Players’ Association (ANPA) on Wednesday, ANPA President and former Diamonds representative Nat Medhurst said that the lack of communication from the Suncorp Super Netball is not good enough, while New Zealand Silver Ferns coach, Noeline Taurua also disagreed with the significant change in rules.

“For a decision of this significance to be made and announced without any engagement with the players, just six weeks out from the start of the season, is extremely disappointing and disrespectful,” Medhurst said.

“The players believe this initiative has been handled poorly, not for the first time, and it cannot happen again. We have written to the SSN Commission to seek their formal assurance on that.”

Another decision made ahead of the season’s start is the introduction of rolling substitutions, though the difference here is that the announcement was made far in advance and off the back of testing in the Australian Netball League (ANL) in 2019. A huge change to the way the sport is played, rolling subs could be a massive game-changer in the Super Netball given it will be an entirely new aspect to the sport that many have not yet seen in action and may not be entirely happy about. With so much changing at once, there is potential for the 2020 version of Suncorp Super Netball to look like an entirely different sport – which then brings us to the next rule change over the past seasons, the tactical timeout rule.

An adaptation over recent years that many have noticed impacts away from the Super Netball competition, the tactical timeout rule allows teams to call two tactical timeouts per quarter, typically adding up to eight timeouts with coach guidance per match. But on the international stage those same rules do not apply, meaning players do not have the same access to coaches and changes to game plans, limiting communication between players to those within the same areas of the court. 

While this example is not as significant as something like the Super Shot, questions can be asked of how the lack of tactical timeouts on the international stage actually benefits teams other than Australia, with the entire Diamonds cohort unused to going full steam for the full quarter without that extra guidance. This is not to call the professionalism or skill of the players into question because realistically these are talented athletes who can buckle down to get the job done, but instead bring up an aspect of how it can have a negative impact on the game, especially when having to swap and change between competitions with different rules.

One of the only decisions that has not significantly changed Australian netball is the introduction of bonus points per quarter won during a match. Where the aforementioned rules can arguably change games for the worse and have a negative impact on Australia’s performance at an international level, this is one of the changes that can actually boost the Diamonds’ chances of success. 

After two seasons with bonus points, many players are now well and truly used to kicking their game up to the next gear to ensure they win that bonus point and climb up the ladder or deny their opposition a chance at full points per round. But this change arguably does not have a bad impact on the nation’s potential internationally which is what makes it one of those rules that does not fundamentally change the game, instead just a point of difference for the competition compared to other domestic leagues.

Where rules such as the bonus points for winning quarters could actually be a booster to Australia’s chances internationally, huge changes like Super Shots and rolling subs could seriously hurt Australia on the world stage. While Super Netball players are professional enough to not need to rely on double goals or constant substitutions to win games, the further that Australia’s domestic netball moves away from the traditional game so do the Diamonds, having to constantly readjust to different rules.

For such a major adaptation to the game to be made with little to no communication to clubs, players and coaches – less than two hours notice of the announcement, in fact – is a real slap in the face with just six weeks left before the season starts. Factor in the need to now add a new element to team strategies that have already had to adapt to the rolling subs rule, and teams have very little time to prepare for a competition that will look very different to past Super Netball seasons.