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.