Category: Australia

Potential Australia Development Squad players

WITH the 2020 Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) season edging ever closer, Draft Central casts an eye over potential new inclusions to the Australian Diamonds Development Squad based on their performances throughout the 2020 season. The Development Squad focuses on up and coming players that would benefit from the opportunity to train in an elite environment but are not yet ready for the call-up to the international stage. Players that were named in the 2019 Australian Development Squad such as Tayla Fraser, Olivia Lewis and Hannah Petty have not been included. These notes are purely based on the individual opinions of each writer.

ATTACK:

Typically renowned for holding shooters, the next generation of Australian goalers coming through the ranks could be more focused on movement and versatility with some smaller goalers in development, particularly in goal attack. Versatility and an ability to put up goals from range is abundant in the up-and-coming pool of goalers, although the lack of height among the group we have selected could be an issue.

Georgie Horjus – Adelaide Thunderbirds (Sophie Taylor)

One of the most exciting young prospects to take the court in season 2020 is Georgie Horjus. A breakout season for the young South Australian goaler has seen her provide a crucial link throughout the Thunderbirds attack, using her burst of speed and excellent vision to weave around her opposition and find purchase both in and around the goal circle. An impressive long range shooter, Horjus has proved this season that the young talent coming up through the pathways is more than capable of holding down a starting spot, using her flair and technique to wow her more experienced opposition time and time again.

Tippah Dwan – Queensland Firebirds (Taylah Melki)

Youngster Tippah Dwan has taken the competition by storm in 2020 with her smooth movement and long bomb shooting a couple of key elements in her game play. The goal attack is an exciting prospect for the future of Australian netball, able to glide across the court while also taking the hard drive into the circle to draw the attention of her defender. Her work rate is unquestionable, constantly popping up in the Firebirds attacking third to bring the ball down the court while her defensive efforts are also commendable, getting hands to ball and picking off intercepts. 

Emma Cosh – West Coast Fever (Sophie Taylor)

A player who has had a real opportunity to ply her trade this season is Emma Cosh, with the smooth-moving goaler inadvertently handed the wing attack bib due to Ingrid Colyer’s anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. Cosh has proved to be a highly versatile option in attack, and while she has not played in goals since she pulled on the wing attack bibs a few weeks ago, she is a great evasive attacker who can put up shots from anywhere in the goal circle. Her feeding ability has stood out, with excellent ball placement on or off circle edge and the clean hands and quick release to pull it off.

MIDCOURT:

Through the midcourt, defensive capability is what stands out amongst our three picks. With the ability to adapt and transition well between positions through the centre third, the potential Diamonds of the future could be a bit more versatile. All three of the players we have listed boast both offensive and defensive traits, much like many of the young up-and-comers through the Australian pathways.

Maisie Nankivell – Adelaide Thunderbirds (Taylah Melki)

There is no denying that Maisie Nankivell has taken her game to a whole new level in 2020, often using her defensive attributes in attack and vice versa. Accustomed to the wing defence position, Nankivell has not looked out of place in centre for the Thunderbirds with her strength and high endurance paving the way for the Adelaide side. She is never out of the contest thanks to her impressive footwork, read of the play and deceptively rangy arms. Nankivell works in overdrive around circle edge to pick up clean ball or create opportunities for turnovers while her transition down court is another impressive trait. Her cleanliness with ball in hand, spatial awareness and confidence to deliver bullet-like passes has quickly become a focal point in the Thunderbirds line-up.  

Molly Jovic – Collingwood Magpies (Sophie Taylor)

A talented midcourter who has burst onto the SSN scene in 2020, Molly Jovic has proved a critical member of the Magpies lineup this season in the absence of Collingwood experience. Jovic has rarely looked out of place or out of her depth on the SSN stage, consistently stepping up to the plate with her quickfire passes and adaptability on court. A hugely versatile midcourter, Jovic can rotate through all three centre court positions which allows her to continuously impact on the play, with her transition between attack and defensive excellent especially given her relative inexperience when it comes to this level.

Maddie Hay – GIANTS Netball (Taylah Melki)

Still finding her feet at SSN level, Maddie Hay has proven that she has a relatively big bag of tricks and is not overawed by the physicality of the game. Slotting into that wing attack position seamlessly for the GIANTS, Hay has become a key cog through the attacking third with her strong second phase play and clever ball placement. She is a strong option around circle edge, tussling for prime position and using her netball smarts to ward off her opponent. Although still adjusting to the high intensity of SSN, the midcourter has proven that she is cool, calm and collected under pressure and can deliver pinpoint precision passes into the likes of Kiera Austin, Jo Harten and Caitlin Bassett

DEFENCE: 

The tenacious defensive unit we have selected very much follows the footsteps of its predecessors with a heap of ball-winning tendencies and the ability to consistently wreak havoc down back. Learning behind some impressive defenders at SSN level, these defenders have showcased the ability to lift when required and deliver under pressure.

Sunday Aryang – West Coast Fever (Sophie Taylor)

Ethiopian-born Sunday Aryang may be young but she has shown in season 2020 that she is more than capable of filling a position on court with her versatility, flair and take-off speed. While she showed glimpses of her exciting potential in the late stages of 2019 and early in 2020, she has been an excellent impact player for the West Coast Fever especially in the latter stages of this season, able to jump on court and create turnover ball. She has continued to grow not only in confidence but also skill with Courtney Bruce behind her, and her ability to not skip a beat regardless of her opposition will make her a huge defensive prospect.

Lauren Moore – NSW Swifts (Taylah Melki)

Defender Lauren Moore burst onto the scene this season with her ability to impact the contest and take big intercepts. Out with injury last season, Moore has relished the opportunity to get a run out on the court for the Swifts in 2020 and has showcased her versatility to swing between goal defence and goal keeper with great ease. The defender has impressive closing speed, reads the play well and is a real energiser bunny down back with her constant movement and hunt for the ball to keep the attackers guessing. She attacks any high or cross court ball and most importantly does it cleanly to win back possession for her side.  

Matilda McDonell – GIANTS Netball (Sophie Taylor)

Matilda McDonell may not have had a heap of consistent court time, but has proven her worth on the court when she has made SSN appearances this season. A tall timber who can use her long arms and elevation to fly for intercepts, McDonell has taken her opportunities and shown plenty of exciting traits in goal keeper, able to come off the body or be a niggling defender blocking drives. Her clever timing allows her to bat the ball away while her hands over pressure is excellent with long limbs blocking vision both in and around the goal circle.

There are a number of other players that would value the opportunity to develop in the elite environment, but currently do not have the SSN exposure to warrant a call-up. In saying that, there are a few players who have showed glimpses of potential and deserve a mention, with midcourters Macy Gardner and Lara Dunkley developing their midcourt craft well at the Firebirds this season, while South Australian Nyah Allen has proved she is capable of having an impact where required, despite not managing a heap of court time. Gardner and Allen have both been selected for the Australian Under 21s squad, proving their capacity to impress. 

Courtside Comments

Maisie Nankivell // Tippah Dwan // Sunday Aryang // Molly Jovic // Georgie Horjus // Lauren Moore //  Maddie Hay

Australia and New Zealand release Under 21 squads

BOTH Australia and New Zealand have released their Under 21 squads ahead of the Netball World Youth Cup expected to take place in 2021, with some familiar and exciting names amongst the ranks for both countries.

AUSTRALIA

Coached by Kylee Byrne there is no shortage of excitement looking at the Australian Under 21s squad which is filled with speed and tenacity. Taking the reins in 2020 for the Sunshine Coast Lightning, Byrne is accustomed to the high expectations and will be keen to make the most of her options in the shooting circle and in defence.

It is fair to say that South Australian Georgie Horjus has taken the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) competition by storm, quickly becoming a fan favourite thanks to her long bomb shooting, clever drives and spatial awareness. On the shorter side, Horjus uses her speed to dart around the court and has proven to be unfazed by the physical nature of SSN. Fellow South Australian goaler Nyah Allen has showcased glimpses of brilliance, albeit with limited court time. She is a smooth mover and has good composure under pressure. On the other hand, the likes of Matisse Letherbarrow plays more of a holding shooter role, and uses her height to dictate play giving Byrne plenty to work with in inside the goal circle. Mia Stower is another one to keep an eye on while Melbourne Vixens training partner Sacha McDonald is a real playmaker out the front and oozes a sense of calmness and leadership with her decision making.

The Diamonds Under 21 side has speed to burn through the midcourt with the likes of Macy Gardner and Tayla Williams able to dart across the court and have an influence with their give and go. Gardner has steadily built into the 2020 season for the Firebirds while Williams has injected plenty of excitement for the Thunderbirds when on court. Tyler Orr is highly versatile, has a high netball IQ enabling her to adapt quickly to the scenario unfolding and boasts plenty of speed. Melbourne Vixens training partner Allie Smith is another exciting squad member given her ball tracking ability, hands over pressure and skill to swing between wing and circle defence.

West Coast Fever defender, Sunday Aryang has been a revelation in 2020 with her tenacity, cleanliness at the contest and speed off the mark all vital aspects of her game. She brings an element of excitement to the game, able to transition between goal keeper, goal defence and wing credit to her versatility. Matilda McDonell is another livewire in defence for Australia with her leap and hustle on constant display and while Chelsea Blackman has not received a wealth of court time at SSN level but has proven that she can have an impact with her hunt for the loose ball and pressure over the shot.

Sophie Dwyer (NSW)
Matisse Letherbarrow (NSW)
Mia Stower (QLD)
Nyah Allen (SA)
Georgie Horjus (SA)
Sacha McDonald (VIC)
Ruby Barkmeyer (VIC)
Lucy Austin (SA)
Reilly Batcheldor (QLD)
Sloan Burton (WA)
Latika Tombs (NSW)
Macy Gardner (QLD)
Allie Smith (VIC)
Tayla Williams (SA)
Tyler Orr (SA)
Georgia Dent (SA)
Hannah Mundy (VIC)
Leesa Mi Mi (QLD)
Annie Miller (NSW)
Matilda McDonell (NSW)
Chelsea Blackman (SA)
Sunday Aryang (WA)
Clare Iongi (NSW)
Olivia Coleman (NSW)
Sarahpheinna Woulf (QLD)
Gabby Coffey (VIC)
Molly Watson (SA)
Amy Sligar (NSW)

NEW ZEALAND

Headed by two-time ANZ Premiership coach Yvette McCausland-Durie, it is fair to say that the New Zealand Under 21s side is in good hands and has a wealth of talent to choose from given the number of athletes that have played throughout the ANZ Premiership season. New Zealand is bursting at the seams when it comes to shooting talent while the midcourt boasts just as much excitement as they look to make it three consecutive titles.

There is a plethora of talent inside the goal circle with Grace Nweke arguably one of the biggest targets thanks to her high volume of shots, strong holds and accuracy to post. she hardly missed a minute of action throughout the ANZ Premiership while teammate Saviour Tui has also been named in the squad. Khiarna Williams burst onto the scene in the 2020 season with her smooth movement, deceptive strength on the hold and aerial ability despite not boasting the height of someone like Nweke. While more accustomed to the goal shooter position, Williams proved she could play out in goal attack which could be handy. Coming off another premiership, Tiana Metuarau is another exciting prospect with her drive, hot hand and composure and having played before in the 2017 Botswana World Cup knows what to expect at this level.

The midcourt is stacked with plenty of speed and talent with youngster Maddy Gordon announced in the Under 21s squad after a phenomenal season, winning the MVP award in the ANZ Premiership grand final and a call up to the Silver Ferns squad. Fellow Central Pulse teammate, Renee Savai’inaea has also been included in the squad with the former defender shaking up her game to play through the centre third and have an impact with her defensive manner. Joining them through the centre is Tayla Earle with the Northern Mystics midcourter no stranger to the big stage, racking up the minutes throughout the ANZ Premiership season and starring with her high work rate and clever feeds into the circle.

Defensively the likes of Taneisha Fifita oozes athleticism and tenacity with the goal keeper not afraid to put her body on the line and contest every ball that comes her way, as shown throughout the ANZ Premiership season with the Southern Steel. Nanise Waqaira is another player to keep an eye out for as New Zealand hope to make it three Netball World Youth Cups in a row.

Hannah Glen (Mainland)
Vika Koloto (North)
Tiana Metuarau (Central)
Grace Nweke (North)
Saviour Tui (North)
Khiarna Williams (WBOP)
Tayla Earle (North)
Georgie Edgecombe (WBOP)
Maddy Gordon (Central)
Kate Hartley (South)
Holly Mather (North)
Ainsleyana Puleiata (Central)
Renee Savai’inaea (Central)
Teuila Sotutu (North)
Taneisha Fifita (South)
Paris Lokotui (Central)
Parris Mason (Central)
Greer Sinclair (WBOP)
Carys Stythe (North)
Jessie Taylor (North)
Nanise Waqaira (North)

Mid-season Diamonds contention: Who will reap the reward from SSN?

WE have surpassed the midway point of the 2020 Suncorp Super Netball season, meaning that young players have now had an opportunity to step up and prove they are capable of an Australian Diamonds berth. With a new head coach at the helm, the 2020/21 Diamonds squad could have a new look for the upcoming international season. With a couple of retirees and injuries, Draft Central casts an eye over potential new inclusions to the overall squad and its development counterparts. These notes are purely based on the individual opinions of each writer.

ATTACK

The attack end could look a little bit different this international season with Caitlin Thwaites retiring from Diamonds duties and Gretel Bueta unavailable until further notice after announcing her pregnancy. This creates a few golden opportunities for young players to step up in their absence and ply their trade under the post. Here are a couple of potential goalers chomping at the bit for their chance to don the green and gold dress.

Cara Koenen – Sunshine Coast Lightning (Taylah Melki)

Cara Koenen has taken everything in her stride over the past couple of seasons and has elevated her game even further in 2020 with her smooth movement along the baseline. Her quick little pop in the goal circle and strong holds are key elements of her game play while her high netball IQ enables her to dictate the flow in the goal circle. She is not often overawed by the physical pressure and is strong in the air to reel in the high balls time and time again. Koenen is accurate to post and is not afraid to demand the ball showcasing her increased confidence. Although more accustomed to the goal shooter position, Koenen has shown in glimpses that she is more than capable of playing in goal attack but will have to work on her endurance if she is to have more of an impact out of the circle.

Sophie Garbin – NSW Swifts (Sophie Taylor)

A smooth mover with plenty of evasive skills, there is no doubt Sophie Garbin can enter a game with ease and grace. Able to hold up under pressure and put up not only a great accuracy but volume too, Garbin’s ability to impact on a match is credit to her impressive footwork and strength to hold her ground. Typically a goal shooter, Garbin has worked hard over the past season to adjust her play to rotate into goal attack if need be, and while she still has room to improve she has certainly stepped up her game and attacked the position head on. Like Koenen, Garbin is unafraid of a goalline drive and is willing to adjust her positioning time and time again, although she has found her comfort spot under the post and is rarely willing to put up a risky attempt which could be seen as a flaw in her game. Nevertheless, Garbin is an impressive and impactful young talent who has all the makings of a great player with time at the elite level.

Kiera Austin – GIANTS Netball (Sophie Taylor)

An effortless player who has the ability to slot into a game with ease is Kiera Austin. With a heap of versatility allowing her to rotate seamlessly between goal shooter, goal attack and wing attack, Austin can create play just as easily as she can be the star of the show to post. Zippy, with great netball smarts and defensive attributes to win back the ball through the midcourt, Austin first put herself on selectors’ radars in 2018, was in the 2019 Diamonds development squad and was elevated to a full time extended squad member late last year thanks to her adaptability and overall impact across the court. While Austin is already technically part of the squad, she is worth making a mention of given how effortlessly she has stepped into an almost full-time goal attack role this season, consistently having an impact and drawing attention of defenders with her ability to hit the scoreboard from range and with volume. Austin’s only current fallback is that when her accuracy drops, so does her confidence. With extended court time, there is no doubt Austin will be an ever tougher battle in the future.

MIDCOURT

Through the midcourt, the Diamonds have lost a couple of key cogs with Ash Brazill rupturing her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) back in February and still recovering, while speedster Kelsey Browne has had a little setback on her return from an ACL after tweaking her knee in a Suncorp Super Netball game. 

Jemma Mi Mi – Queensland Firebirds (Taylah Melki)

With speed to burn Jemma Mi Mi has been a solid contributor for the Firebirds this year, able to hit the circle edge with great intent and pace. The wing attack has showcased her impressive vision to feed the ball into the circle and vary her passes to keep the defenders guessing. She oozes plenty of excitement with her crafty passes and dynamic footwork to dance around circle edge and ward off defenders. Mi Mi is strong on the drive and is a constant option at the centre pass to receive ball and initiate second phase play. Boasting plenty of speed it can sometimes be Mi Mi’s biggest fault with the midcourter often too quick for her own good and burning herself out, or losing ball in transition due to her fast footwork.

Amy Parmenter – GIANTS Netball (Taylah Melki)

There is no denying that Amy Parmenter is one to watch for the future with the wing defence bound to catch the eye of selectors. She contests each and every single pass, to make life hard for her opposition while her closing speed is equally as impressive. Parmenter is never far away, constantly on the lookout for a flashy intercept or deflection such is her netball nous and understanding. However one thing she will be hoping to work on will be learning when and when not to challenge the ball in order to ensure she stays in play more regularly. Her work in defence is impressive, able to pressure her opponent with her three-foot marking along with her footwork around circle edge to create tips. But it is her work through transition that is also a standout, able to bring the ball down court with great confidence and precision.

Maddy Proud – NSW Swifts (Sophie Taylor)

On return from injury Maddy Proud has struck gold in 2020, stepping straight back into a premiership-winning midcourt and not looking even a little bit out of place. While her consistency and endurance may have suffered in the absence of regular court time, Proud has returned at the perfect time with the rolling subs allowing her to step back from the game in patches. Her continuous energy and ability to go-go-go has seen her step up through the centre when her team is not firing and getting them back in line with her constant drives and zippy footwork. With a huge work ethic and grin to match, Proud is unafraid to test her own boundaries and hit the deck, rarely coming off second best with her composure and cleanliness to dish off ball. Able to transition with ease between wing attack and centre, Proud can offer plenty of spark and agility into the Diamonds credit to her renewed confidence and ability to get the job done.

DEFENCE

While it is unlikely there will be any major absences from the Diamonds defensive end, a couple of youngsters have stepped up this season with their consistency and ability to win ball for their respective sides. Each player has showcased a heap of potential to earn a Diamonds call up if the international season goes ahead.

Kim Jenner – Queensland Firebirds (Taylah Melki)

The Queensland Firebirds goal defence has been in scintillating form in season 2020 and is deserving in a call-up to the Diamonds. She has set the court alight more times than once this season with her read of the play and innate hunt for the ball allowing her to get hands to ball. Kim Jenner has exceptional closing speed and can read the shot with ease to get handy deflections and get in the head of her opponent. The 22-year-old is versatile, able to swing into goal keeper but does the most damage out in goal defence thanks to the extra court space to create deflections and mount pressure. Her drive through the midcourt is key to her game along with her constant niggle. Sometimes costly in defence given the amount of penalties she accumulates, Jenner will be hoping to tidy up her approach while still ferociously attacking the play.

Tara Hinchliffe – Queensland Firebirds (Taylah Melki)

Fellow Firebirds defender Tara Hinchliffe has taken the next step up this season, consolidating her role in at goal keeper and winning a wealth of ball. She has consistently showcased her ability to contest in the air especially against the taller goalers. Hinchliffe is not afraid to go out hunting and leave the goal shooter unattended while her footwork is a prominent feature of her game, able to work her opponent up high and keep them there. Her lean over the shot is strong, able to put doubt in the shooters minds – pair that with her leap and Hinchliffe is a damaging prospect down back. She does an immense amount of work off the ball to claim prime position and is strong on the rebound to reel in ball time and time again. Hinchliffe can sometimes draw the attention of the umpire, an area she will be hoping to address to guarantee she can remain in play for longer and not release that pressure valve in defence.

Kate Eddy – Melbourne Vixens (Sophie Taylor)

A versatile defender with plenty of Diamonds-worthy attributes, Kate Eddy put herself on the map in 2019 with the Swifts before returning to her home state of Victoria in 2020 and settling into a consistent starting spot with the Vixens. While still relatively young, Eddy has slotted in with ease to the Vixens defensive unit and added a new layer with her arms over pressure and ability to rotate between both circle and midcourt defence. Her ability to impact the play in both goal defence and wing defence is testament to her work rate and ability to combine with any number of players, winning back ball with speed and cleanliness. Her hunt this season has been impressive, although she will want to work on her consistency if she is to step up to Diamonds contention given she can sometimes fade in and out of games.

POTENTIAL DEVELOPMENT PLAYERS

These players have highlighted their potential throughout the 2020 Super Netball season and while they may not be ready to take the jump into the international level they would benefit from the opportunity to be surrounded by an elite training program. 

In attack Alice Teague-Neeld and Georgie Horjus have stepped up this season for their respective sides. Teague-Neeld has a wealth of experience and has improved in 2020 while Horjus may still be a training partner but has proved that she is more than capable of taking the game on. A few midcourters who have elevated their game in 2020 are Tayla Fraser, Maisie Nankivell and Molly Jovic. All three players offer completely different options through the centre, with Fraser using her speed and vision to make an impact offensively, Nankivell using her strength to win ball back down the other end and Jovic proving to be a threat in whichever position offered her. There are some impressive names that have stepped up defensively in 2020, with Sunday Aryang, Lauren Moore and Olivia Lewis leading the charge. Aryang and Moore are highly versatile, able to adapt to whichever position needs to be filled, while Lewis is a specialised goal keeper who continues to improve with every game.

Courtside Comments:

Maisie Nankivell // Tippah Dwan // Sunday Aryang // Molly Jovic // Georgie Horjus // Lauren Moore // Alice Teague-Neeld

Stacey Marinkovich announced as new Australian Diamonds coach

THE highly anticipated wait is over with West Coast Fever coach Stacey Marinkovich appointed as the new Australian Diamonds coach. Marinkovich is set to be the 15th Diamonds coach and boasts a wealth of experience having coached the Fever for the past five years. She has also plied her trade on the international stage as a Specialist Centre Court coach of the Australian Development Squad and Australian Fast5 head coach.

After guiding her Fever side to a Super Netball Grand Final in 2018, Marinkovich was awarded the Joyce Brown Coach of the Year award. Marinkovich has no shortage of knowledge regarding netball pathways having played at the elite level for many years, apart of the Perth Oriels squad and then the West Coast Fever team prior to becoming the coach.

When speaking to Netball Australia about the appointment, Marinkovich shared her excitement and hopes for the future.

“This is something I have been working towards my entire professional life and I’m absolutely honoured and humbled that Netball Australia have granted me the opportunity to lead the world’s best netball team,” she said.

“I am acutely aware of the expectations, the history and responsibility of taking on such a position and I am very much looking forward to growing the success of the Origin Diamonds program.

“Coaching the Origin Diamonds is not about me as a coach. It is about the team that is representing the nation and Netball Australia, and everything I will do in my time as Head Coach is about the quality of that representation.”

Currently contracted to the Fever, Marinkovich is set to step away from the side at the end of the 2021 Suncorp Super Netball season to solely focus on the Diamonds in preparation for the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and 2023 World Cup in South Africa.

Although there is no certainty around an international season due to the COVID-19 pandemic the appointment at least provides closure for many netball fans and most importantly players. The 2020/21 Diamonds squad will be announced at the end of the Suncorp Super Netball home and away season with plenty of high quality players to choose from.

SSN: Five things we’re looking forward to – #5

WITH the 2020 Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) season beginning in less than a week, the Draft Central team has decided to count down five things we are looking forward to this season. Coming in at number five is the further development of young up and coming players across the league. With a couple of fresh faces showcasing their explosive potential last season, the extended break could have worked wonders for them and allowed extra time to hone their craft and come out raring to go in Round 1. 

Starting with defence, there are a couple of talented names in there with Shamera Sterling, Kim Jenner and Tara Hinchliffe just to name a few. Sterling set the court alight last season with her impressive aerial ability and consistency in defence to win back a wealth of ball with her clever footwork and long arms, and with a little cleaning up she could be an even bigger threat this year with improved connections across the court. 

Jenner and Hinchliffe learned from the best in Laura Geitz and it shows, with the defensive duo a little on the undisciplined side but made up for it with their rate of development and ability to turn a game on its head. With more time behind them to strengthen their connections in the circle and increase their endurance they could be crucial to the Firebirds’ success this year. Turning to the Collingwood Magpies, Matilda Garrett will have a real chance this season to rack up some crucial minutes on court with April Brandley out of the mix. While she did not manage a heap of court time last season, Garrett will be one of the mid-tier experienced names with the Magpies this season making this a pivotal time for the young defender to step up to the challenge.

Coming through the midcourt, Amy Parmenter made herself into a crucial cog last season for the GIANTS and is set to provide that same impact once more given she will no longer be the new kid on the block. With speed and impeccable timing to boot, expect fan-favourite Parmenter to impress once more. Adelaide Thunderbirds youngster Maisie Nankivell was elevated for a patch of last season, with the tenacious midcourter able to create turnovers and be a physical threat with her arms over pressure and speed, though with the calibre of midcourters on the Tbirds’ list, there is no guarantee she will take the court. While not one of the younger ones on this list, Kate Eddy will hope for her first uninterrupted season at SSN level after all but cementing her spot as the Vixens’ starting wing defence for 2020. Her development with the NSW Swifts in 2019 shined bright but injury struck in the late stages of the season, seeing Eddy miss out on premiership glory. 

The retirement of Kim Green opens up further possibilities for Kiera Austin, with the versatile young attacker able to ply her trade in any number of positions, able to be a threat in both wing attack and goal attack. Austin can have an impact from within the circle with her clean movement and long range shooting ability while Lightning goaler Cara Koenen came along in leaps and bounds last season with her silky footwork and impressive accuracy. Talking of development, Shimona Nelson starred for the Magpies last year and as the now most experienced goaler in the attack unit, will need to continue that form if the Magpies want to win. She developed at a rate of knots in 2019 with her hands becoming cleaner with every match, but will need backup from her fellow young goalers to be able to ply her trade to her full ability.

Also looking to ply their trade this season are the likes of Charlee Hodges who returns to the Thunderbirds after a season at the ANZ Premiership and Sophie Garbin who has been a handy rotation for the Swifts over the past few seasons, able to have an impact off the bench. A couple of youngsters in the likes of Tayla Honey, Kadie-Ann Dehaney and Olivia Lewis will hope to gain some precious exposure but sit behind some formidable names that could see them continue as benchwarmers. Unlikely to share the centre role as much as she did in 2019, expect Hannah Petty to come out with a point to prove in centre while a Firebirds duo in Lara Dunkley and Macy Gardner will be vying for a starting spot through the midcourt with Mahalia Cassidy likely to be managed early upon her return from injury but two consistent fixtures through the midcourt already settled.

SSN: Five things we’re looking forward to – #4

SSN: Five things we’re looking forward to – #3

SSN: Five things we’re looking forward to – #2

SSN: Five things we’re looking forward to – #1

Centre Pass Podcast: Season preview

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

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

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. 

What if … the Constellation Cup is cancelled?

THE Constellation Cup has become a permanent fixture in the international netball calendar with Australia and New Zealand putting themselves to the test and often trying out new combinations to discover some type of competitive edge. With dates for Constellation Cup confirmed for mid October international netball is in sight, giving fans plenty to be excited about. It will be the first time that Australia and New Zealand have gone head to head since last year where the Diamonds restored their winning ways claiming their seventh Constellation Cup. In that time both countries have seen some key players retire with the likes of Maria Folau for the Ferns and Caitlin Thwaites for Australia both hanging up the dress, leaving some big holes in the respective squads. While the thought of international netball looms it is all dependent on the spread and safety precautions which must be taken given the current COVID-19 pandemic. 

So what if the Constellation Cup was cancelled? 

With Australia in the middle of somewhat of a rebuild after two heartbreaking one goal losses in the 2018 Commonwealth Games and 2019 Netball World Cup, a lack of international netball could have a severe impact on the development of their next generation players. With Thwaites, retiring the opportunity for a new goaler is in the mix with a host of young talent such as Cara Koenen and Sophie Garbin both putting their hand up as viable options last year with their accuracy to post and clever movement. The midcourt could also have a different look for the Diamonds with Ash Brazill unlikely to pull on the green and gold due to a devastating anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury at the start of the year leaving a chance for the likes of Kate Moloney or Gabi Simpson. Similarly the same goes for New Zealand with the Ferns on the search for Folau’s replacement whether it be shooting prodigy Grace Nweke, Maia Wilson or Aliyah Dunn. The Ferns could also be without Bailey Mes who was ruled out of the ANZ Premiership season with a patella injury, creating another possibility for a young player to take the court. With key players missing from both sides respectively the Constellation Cup would be an ideal platform for both teams to test out new combinations and allow up and comers to join the ranks. However if both nations are unable to get on court in an international setting the next time they step out on court could be in the Nations Cup when they will be faced with the likes of England, Jamaica or South Africa. 

The ramifications do not stop there though, with Australia still on the hunt for a coach with Lisa Alexander no longer in charge of the Diamonds. With no coach at the helm the Diamonds future is still relatively up in the air, something they will be hoping to get on top of in the coming months and test out at the Constellation Cup. The tournament will provide the Diamonds with a chance to test out new combinations, coaching styles and ultimately act as a trial run for the upcoming Nations Cup. 

If cancelled due to travel restrictions it also throws up the possibility of not seeing some household netball names take the court again. Both teams have a couple of players heading towards the latter stage of their career in particular New Zealand with the likes of Laura Langman and Katrina Rore. While in no means are we hoping for them to retire from international netball given their undeniable explosiveness, skill and sheer presence, retirement is inevitable in every netballers career. Langman is 34 while Rore hit the 33 mark this year and if international netball comes to a halt in 2020 there is a slight chance netball fans may have already seen the back of them. 

Travel is a key part of the Constellation Cup with games played both in Australia and New Zealand, however if restrictions remain in place the competition will not be able to go ahead and subsequently have a huge impact on the world of international netball.