Category: News

Three leagues, one website – the new era of netball news from across the globe

THREE LEAGUES. ONE WEBSITE.

 

Netball Draft Central is excited to bring you the most comprehensive coverage from across the world when it comes to netball news. Now in its second year, Netball Draft Central has already grown exponentially to have news, reviews, features, profiles and statistics from the Suncorp Super Netball, ANZ Premiership and Vitality Netball Superleague.

While the three main leagues might be the main focus when it comes to netball coverage, the national and state leagues will not be forgotten. The team already covered the Australian Netball League (ANL) and Victorian Netball League (VNL) last year, as well as the Victorian Men’s and Mixed Netball Association (VMMNA) competition.

In 2020 and beyond, we will continue to expand and build on this coverage to include other states within Australia, and indeed overseas. In the past few weeks, we have chatted to an array of international stars including Australia’s Liz Watson, New Zealand’s Karin Burger, Sam Winders and Shannon Saunders, as well as heard from England’s George Fisher.

While the world of sport might have slowed down in the past couple of months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Netball Draft Central has posted more than 100 articles in this time from our Compare the Pairs, Memorable Matches to our Features, and much, much more.

 

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Here’s what you can expect from Netball Draft Central in 2020 and beyond:

  • Full coverage of the Suncorp Super Netball, ANZ Premiership and (when it returns in 2021) Vitality Netball Superleague
  • Player profiles with full statistics for all the three major leagues
  • Individual team pages for every club in the major leagues, as well as the international sides
  • Up-to-date statistics and ladders
  • Regular features on netballers across the world, hearing from them on both a personal and professional level
  • Expansion into national and state levels where possible across the world
  • A focus on men’s and mixed netball

 

 

Every team page with dedicated content to that team, as well as team lists, can be found in the drop down menu of each page from the home page.

QUICK LINKS TO EXPLORE

Of course, Netball Draft Central is always open to fresh ideas, new content and passionate writers. If you’re interested in writing for us, contact our Senior Editor, Sophie Taylor on her email at sophie.t@adzeemedia.com.

If you’re interested in potential partnership opportunities with Netball Draft Central, contact our Managing Editor, Taylah Melki on her email at taylah@adzeemedia.com.

Top 20 players over 30: #11 Mwai Kumwenda

THERE are a host of international players across the world that, much like a fine wine, have simply gotten better with age. With netball on hold due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Draft Central takes a look at players that fall into the category of over 30 and still have plenty in the tank given their on-court prowess. Coming up next in the countdown is Malawi Queens and Melbourne Vixens goal shooter, Mwai Kumwenda.

A highly talented goaler, Kumwenda comes in at number 11 thanks to her clean hands, ability to adapt to play and consistent ability to put volume and accuracy to post. Hailing from Malawi, the star Vixens goaler was injured for majority of last season, seeing her sit just outside the top 10 despite being one of the most consistent and influential goalers around. The Malawi star also sat out of the 2019 Netball World Cup, where she would have plied her trade against any number of defenders and likely come out on top thanks to her impressive work rate and exciting style of play.

With speed, resilience and flair to boot, Kumwenda is a threatening option at the post thanks to her ability to find the netball with ease and command the audience with her accuracy, almost always putting up 90 per cent totals on game day. Her ability to adapt to her defender is credit to her clean read of the play and crafty footwork, while her energy on court sees her provide a constant pressure to the opposition. Her long reach allows her to find plenty of crucial ball, able to scoop it out of the air before her opposition can get hands to it.

While injury saw Kumwenda miss majority of the 2019 Suncorp Super Netball season, she showcased some real resilience and eventually made her slow return to netball, slotting in with ease to the shooting combination with Caitlin Thwaites and Tegan Philip, already having a solid rapport with both players and making a handy substitution to inject further excitement into an already impressive attacking lineup. 

While she does come in just outside the top 10, it is hard to fault Kumwenda’s ability to impact the play, plying her trade with ease in attack and unafraid of the contest.

TOP 20 PLAYERS OVER 30:

#20 Stacey Francis (West Coast Fever/England)
#19 Laura Scherian (Sunshine Coast Lightning/Australia)
#18 Ama Agbeze (Severn Stars/England)
#17 Phumza Maweni (Sunshine Coast Lightning/South Africa)
#16 Jade Clarke (Wasps Netball/England)
#15 Chelsea Pitman (Adelaide Thunderbirds/England)

#14 Romelda Aiken (Queensland Firebirds/Jamaica)
#13 Madi Browne (Collingwood Magpies/Australia)
#12 Nat Medhurst (Collingwood Magpies/Australia)

#11 Mwai Kumwenda (Melbourne Vixens/Malawi)

What if… the international players were not allowed to return to SSN?

WITH the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) hopeful to return in the coming months, star players from across the globe are slowly making their way back to Australia and their respective teams ahead of the impending season. The Adelaide Thunderbirds will welcome back three of their stars with Lenize Potgieter and Shadine van der Merwe returning from South Africa while Layla Guscoth is set to make the journey from England. Phumza Maweni will re-join the Sunshine Coast Lighting while Nat Haythornthwaite will make her way back to the New South Wales Swifts. Each player, plays an integral role for their respective side often forming the crux of the squad, providing that element of experience and class across the court.

But what if they were not allowed to re-enter the competition? How would that effect each club and the overall competition?

The Adelaide Thunderbirds would have been hit the hardest if Potgieter, van der Merwe and Guscoth were all not able to re-join the squad with each of them expected to earn a starting spot. While Guscoth missed the second half of last season due to an Achilles injury the talented defender will be eager to get back out on court and prove her worth. The lanky goal defence oozes class, understanding and a sense of calmness down back able to call the shots and apply pressure over the shot. With Maria Folau retiring last year and Sasha Glasgow out with an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), the goal shooter position all but falls to Potgieter. The South African is a sure shot under the post able to find space with ease and most importantly convert with ease. She is quick and unconventional on the shot and puts up a high volume of goals making her the go-to for any team. The final piece of the puzzle is van der Merwe with the versatile defender able to seamlessly transition from wing defence to goal defence when needed. Her defensive pressure, quick footwork and tagging style of defence makes her another key cog for the Thunderbirds. While Adelaide have a wealth of options without these international stars they could have been facing a very difficult year unable to generate scoring power and defensive pressure.

Maweni’s combination with South African and Lightning teammate Karla Pretorius is simply unstoppable when on song. The two work seamlessly together able to rotate through the defensive circle with ease and use their three-foot marking to create doubt in the goalers mind. The Spar Proteas goal keeper is light on her feet able to read the play and go out hunting for the intercept something that the Lightning would be missing from their line-up which is renowned for stimulating turnover ball. Without Maweni the Lightning would be lacking that extra layer of class and connection with Pretorius given the two work like clockwork.

Although the NSW Swifts have a wealth of depth on the bench with the likes of Tayla Fraser, Paige Hadley, Sophie Craig and the inevitable return of captain Maddy Proud the absence of Haythornthwaite would be sorely missed. The England Roses wing attack sees the game in a way no one else can delivering pin point passes into the likes of Sam Wallace and Helen Housby. She is nimble on her feet able to dart around the attacking third and hold strong on the circle edge while her ability to switch into goal attack adds another string to her bow. If Haythornthwaite was not able to return to the Swifts they would lose that versatility and composing presence in the attacking third.

Top 20 players over 30: #12 Nat Medhurst

THERE are a host of international players across the world that, much like a fine wine, have simply gotten better with age. With netball on hold due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Draft Central takes a look at players that fall into the category of over 30 and still have plenty in the tank given their on-court prowess. Although she is currently on a netball hiatus with pregnancy, Nat Medhurst comes in at number 12 on the countdown.

The Collingwood Magpies goaler elevated her game again last year with her effortless movement across the court and sheer netball smarts constantly on display. Her on-court leadership and ability to control the front end made her an integral member in the Magpies side, able to direct traffic and control the flow of the game. Although she is not renowned for her high volume of shots it is her play making ability that sets her apart from fellow goal attacks able to see the play two steps ahead of the next. The 36-year-old has an uncanny ability to drop into space when needed and can sense the moment to stand up under pressure. Her floating style of play across the court is varied with her hard drives into the circle to beat the defender and gain prime position under the post, which in turn keeps the opposition on their toes.

She is not afraid to take on the contest relying on her quick footwork to out manoeuvre and outsmart her opponent while her quick hands leave many in awe. There is no denying that the fast footed Medhurst has gotten better with age, darting around the court easily and exploiting every little bit of space there is to offer. There is nothing more poetic than seeing Medhurst’s baseline drives in full swing, able to burst through the circle and receive the ball. She is renowned for her impressive balance and spatial awareness able to step on to one foot and do a full 360 to assess her options and off-load the pass.

Her delivery into the circle is second to none, able to release that high ball into the likes of current shooting partner Shimona Nelson, and former teammates Jhaniele Fowler and Caitlin Bassett with ease. Her connection with the likes of Kelsey Browne, Kimiora Poi and Kim Ravaillion started to blossom towards the tail end of the season with the midcourters able to read Medhurst’s movement and play accordingly.

When she is on there is almost no stopping Medhurst who has proven that she has the calibre to explode and cause all sorts of headaches for defenders, whether it be with her play making capabilities or skill to go to post. Medhurst has a lovely high release shot that makes it hard for defenders to stop and while she does not contribute a large amount to the scoreboard it is her presence that makes her a commanding figure in the goal circle.

TOP 20 PLAYERS OVER 30:

#20 Stacey Francis (West Coast Fever/England)
#19 Laura Scherian (Sunshine Coast Lightning/Australia)
#18 Ama Agbeze (Severn Stars/England)
#17 Phumza Maweni (Sunshine Coast Lightning/South Africa)
#16 Jade Clarke (Wasps Netball/England)
#15 Chelsea Pitman (Adelaide Thunderbirds/England)

#14 Romelda Aiken (Queensland Firebirds/Jamaica)
#13 Madi Browne (Collingwood Magpies/Australia)
#12 Nat Medhurst (Collingwood Magpies/Australia)

Burger itching to get back out on court for Pulse

LAST year was action-packed for Karin Burger with the Central Pulse and New Zealand Silver Ferns defender basking in both a domestic premiership and international gold medal glory. But the Pulse premiership was years in the making with Burger touching on the pain of falling short in previous seasons.

“Coming so close and all the other two or three years prior to that, I think was a really good I guess, instigator for us. So I think it was four years of really, really hard work,” she said.

With a premiership under her belt, the year only got better for Burger who travelled to England and was part of the Silver Ferns’ drought breaking World Cup win over Australia.

“I was just stoked to be there to be honest and experience being in a team with so many legends of the game,” she said. “Just seeing it all unfold in front of me and being able to say that I played a role. It’s a feeling that I would like to have again so it’s sort of fuelled that desire to be in the next World Cup team again.”

But the 2020 ANZ Premiership and international season is a little bit different to that of last year thanks to the COVID-19 outbreak and halt to live sport. Unable to train as a team due to social distancing protocols, Burger has resorted to training on her lonesome throughout lockdown to ensure her endurance and fitness is up to scratch, but admits it has taken some time to getting used to.

“It’s quite a bit of an adjustment when you’re going to do all that stuff by yourself. So, yeah, it’s been good while it lasted, but it’s starting to drag on,” she said. “Everybody’s pretty keen to get back to training together and pretty sick of training by ourselves when you’re used to playing in a team and know doing team base stuff.”

As a defender, the task of training in isolation is no mean feat, with Burger having to conjure up new ways to stay on her toes and continue to hone in her defensive craft with a more heightened focus on running and endurance.

“It’s just being a bit more creative and finding whether it’s a stair run or a hill run or flats. We’ve got quite a good track just down the road, so it’s just being a bit creative and what the different running styles can look like,” she said.

“I think as it gets closer to game time, it’s more change of direction and shuttle running rather than the longer distance stuff, just to be a bit more specific to what it’s going to look like so the body doesn’t get too much of a shock,” Burger said.

Although endurance and running is an integral part of any netballer’s repertoire, Burger has been struggling to cater for her ball-handling skills.

“Because it’s just me in my bubble, it’s quite hard or it was quite hard in the earlier stages and not being able to get around to people to do ball work or just movement stuff that simulates what happened on court,” she said.

Time away from netball has given the 27-year-old some perspective, looking to life after netball and what that could entail for her.

“Well, personally, for me, it’s sort of given a bit of idea of what it could be like once netballs done. Yeah, gives you a bit of a kickstarter to figure out what you’re going to do afterwards,” she said.

“I currently do have a job at Athletics Wellington, so I do have a job, but it’s whether that’s the job that I’d want to keep doing for the rest of my life. So, it’s just figuring out whether it’s going to be a desk job or whether it’s going to be an outside job and what that would look like so and while we do have the opportunity to study what it what I need to have that qualifications when it gets there, so I’m not 100% sure on what that would look like. But definitely have some, some ideas. I just need to figure out what it looks like,” Burger said.

Burger well and truly burst onto the scene last year and did not skip a beat with the highly talented defender more than capable of switching between circle defence and wing defence, something that is becoming more common in the New Zealand camp. While it might seem like a similar role to those on the outside, Burger emphasised the extreme differences between the positions and importance of adaptability.

“Wing defence is more on the ground running with your partner and you know, just grinding it out, more niggly kind of stuff. Whereas the gold defence gives a little bit more breathing room and is looking for ball and just that in circle quick feet stuff, very different aspects to those two positions. So definitely a quick mind shift needed whenever I’m switching between the two,” she said.

With a new role also comes new responsibilities with Burger forced to break out of her mould and rely on her voice a bit more on court to direct traffic down back regarding defensive structures on the centre pass.

“I’m quite a shy, pretty reserved person when it comes to that kind of stuff. So I’ve had to make my voice a bit louder, and be confident when I’m calling stuff. So I think moving to that position has also helped me a lot with leadership skills as well and definitely still working on it. So it’s not just a difference in how you play but also your voice on court as well. So yeah, very, very big difference,” she said.

With Sulu Fitzpatrick departing the club at the end of last year, youngster Kelly Jury has joined the ranks with Burger and teammate Katrina Rore taking her under their wing down in defence and enjoying the versatility of the tall goal keeper.

“So having the variety and being able to put different people on to get different results has been awesome,” she said.

“I think we’re working really hard and complementing each other and not playing our own game, knowing what our strengths are and playing to each other’s strengths,” Burger said. “I think having that mentality and wanting to play together to be a better unit. I think it really shows on court and hopefully with more game time, we’ll be able to get a better understanding of each other and our game with Kelly being new in the unit.”

When asked about keeping that hunger alive heading into the 2020 season Burger did not leave much to the imagination, citing the fact she has not been able to take the court in a couple months enough for her, while her constant desire to improve spurs her on.

Compare the Pair: Joline Johansson (Nee Henry) and Karin Burger

THE next instalment in the Draft Central Compare the Pair series will aim to analyse two fan favourites from across the netball world, with the next showcasing New Zealand Silver Ferns defenders, Joline Johansson (Nee Henry) and Karin Burger.

Two more highly versatile names to add to the Compare the Pair fray are Johansson and Burger, who both can step out in any number of defensive positions, even moving up the court into wing defence such is their consistency and ability to perform no matter what. While their respective versatility is crucial, it’s both players’ ability to be consistent threats that proves their strength across all three defensive positions, able to have an impact both inside and outside the circle such is their ability to have an impact.

Johannson had a stellar career, forging her way up through the ranks as a circle defender before proving her pride of place for the Ferns was out in wing defence. Her unselfish style of play was unrivalled with her determination allowing her to constantly win back ball. Her ability to test players and use her innate knowledge of the game and her opposition gave her a leg up much of the time, while her speed to come in and create intercepts saw her rack up the 91 caps, such was her strength through the midcourt and deflections on circle edge. With long arms to pick off passes, Johannson’s height allowed her to provide an extra bit of defensive pressure over smaller attackers and block their vision looking into the circle. 

With such a wealth of defensive talent at the Ferns currently, Burger’s 19 caps since late 2018 are a real testament to her work ethic to not only break into the team but also provide a crucial and trustworthy option to jump on the court and be a real impact player. Like Johannson, her height allows her to be a tough battle in wing defence, giving her a point of difference with the strong three foot marking to block vision. Her strength allows her to hold ground on circle edge to force turnovers from opposition while she does not skip a beat rotating back into the circle thanks to her work rate and consistency. Able to burst out of the blocks and create turnovers, Burger is a real talent with her hands over pressure and constant drive for the ball.

Joline Johansson (Nee Henry)
91 caps, 2004-2014

Karin Burger
19 caps, 2018-present

FOR MORE COMPARE THE PAIRS, VISIT OUR PAGE

Top 20 players over 30: #13 Madi Browne

THERE are a host of international players across the world that, much like a fine wine, have simply gotten better with age. With netball on hold due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Draft Central takes a look at players that fall into the category of over 30 and still have plenty in the tank given their on-court prowess. Coming up next in at number 13 is injured midcourter, Madi Browne.

While ultimately a class above plenty of names in her hey-day, Browne has stepped down from Diamonds duty and given injury has kept her off the court since early 2019, has not really had an opportunity to prove her skill in recent months. But with the Super Netball hopefully returning soon and the delayed start doing plenty for Browne’s recovery, fans will hope the impressive attacker will start back out on the court this season. With plenty of speed, cleanliness and experience, the 168cm energiser bunny can be a real barometer for any side, namely the Magpies – who will hope she can return to the court this season.

With wicked pace, clean footwork and impressive vision, Browne is a livewire and at 32-years-old has shown no signs of stopping. With an innate ability to not only find the ball but also use her vision to feed ball into the circle with ease, Browne is a constant threat whether she has possession or is held down by her defender, able to wriggle out of tough spots to find better positioning in attack. Browne’s ability to find circle edge allows her to always have pride of place to her goalers’ advantage, proving the star midcourter is a commanding presence with a real affinity for knowing exactly where she needs to be at any given time.

While her attacking prowess is undoubtedly her forte, the wing attack can be a hot option in centre thanks to her ability to transition from attack to defence with ease and her agile two-way running which allows her to change directions with speed to adapt to the situation. A fan favourite across the world, Browne retired early from the international scene with plenty of young talent coming through the ranks, but Browne would still be a quality opponent and tough player to come up against if she were to return to the Diamonds, with her experience and knowledge of the game second to none. The speedster can still be a constant pressure and threat even into the later stages of her career, and has not lost any of that speed or excitement that made her such an impressive player to begin with.

TOP 20 PLAYERS OVER 30:

#20 Stacey Francis (West Coast Fever/England)
#19 Laura Scherian (Sunshine Coast Lightning/Australia)
#18 Ama Agbeze (Severn Stars/England)
#17 Phumza Maweni (Sunshine Coast Lightning/South Africa)
#16 Jade Clarke (Wasps Netball/England)
#15 Chelsea Pitman (Adelaide Thunderbirds/England)

#14 Romelda Aiken (Queensland Firebirds/Jamaica)
#13 Madi Browne (Collingwood Magpies/Australia)

Players that got away: Leana de Bruin

THERE are a number of netballers in the world that have pulled on the international dress for more than one country throughout the career. With netball on hold due to the outbreak of COVID-19 Draft Central has decided to take a look at those players and their international careers and what could have been. Next in line is former Silver Ferns and Spar Proteas defender Leana de Bruin.

Starting off her career with South Africa, de Bruin played 34 international caps for the Proteas before transitioning to the Silver Ferns in 2000 where she racked up a whopping 104 international caps in the black dress. She was as consistent as they came for the Spar Proteas acting as a real wall down in defence and using her smothering style of pressure to halt any easy movement into the attacking third. De Bruin was a commanding influence for South Africa throughout her time able to lead her side on court with her impressive vision and ball handling skills.

A member of the New Zealand Silver Ferns, de Bruin was a key cog in the defensive circle with her hands over pressure, speed off the mark and tagging style of defence. She was hardly ever beaten in a one on one given her strength and general netball nous to work around the body of her opponent. Renowned for her physical pressure and aerial ability de Bruin was a constant pain in any goalers side, able to ruffle their feathers and create turnovers.

Her connection with the likes of Katrina Rore and Casey Kopua was electric with the trio able to cause all sorts of havoc down back. Their zone style of defence was what made them such a formidable unit able to transition well and continue that high pressure intensity. She well and truly cemented herself in the squad becoming the fifth player to notch up over 100 tests with her hard-working mentality constantly on display. While her defensive pressure was a clear asset for the Ferns it was her ability to bring the ball down the court and provide attacking options that also made her a force to be reckoned with.

She has had a decorated career, with the highly touted defender lucky enough to feature in five Netball World Cups – one for South Africa in 1999 and the next four in 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015 with New Zealand. Her dominance did not stop there with de Bruin also playing in the 2006, 2010 and 2014 Commonwealth Games for the Ferns. Throughout her time, she tasted plenty of success filling the trophy cabinet with gold and silver medals.

After switching to the Silver Ferns, it is fair to say that de Bruin’s services were well and truly missed for the Spar Proteas who at times lacked that X-factor she possessed. Her ability to read the flight of the ball and inject herself into the game was second to none able to make something out of nothing more times than not given her long reaching arms and footwork.

Fantasy teams: Australia/Jamaica v. New Zealand/England

WITH a wealth of netball talent across the world Draft Central has created two teams based on the current top four nations according to the International Netball Federation rankings. The first team comprises of first and fourth – Australia and Jamaica – while the second team is made up of players from New Zealand and England. The line-ups include injured players that have recently featured in their respective country’s team.

Australia & Jamaica (Diamond Girls)

GK: Shamera Sterling
GD: Jo Weston
WD: Ash Brazill
C: Liz Watson
WA: Kelsey Browne
GA: Gretel Bueta
GS: Jhaniele Fowler

BENCH: Caitlin Bassett, Adean Thomas, Courtney Bruce

The Diamond Girls are bookended by Jamaicans given their height and dominance in those respective positions. The defensive end is set to cause fireworks with the likes of Shamera Sterling taking out the goal keeper position. The exciting Jamaican goal keeper is renowned for her intercepting ability, impressive aerial skills and classy footwork to get up to the high balls and propel it back down the court. Australian Diamond, Jo Weston is set to pull on the goal defence position given her ability to shut down opposition goalers with her tagging style of defence and skill to block vision and space in the defensive third.

Through the midcourt it is Diamonds top heavy with dynamo Liz Watson taking out the centre position. Although she is more commonly seen in wing attack, Watson has proven that she has the endurance and skill to have an influence across all thirds and use her speed and precision passing to deliver into the goalers with ease. Speedster, Kelsey Browne takes out the wing attack position credit to her dynamic footwork to dance around the circle edge and exploit every inch of space. Her impressive vision and skill to vary her passes into the shooters makes her hard to stop when on song. Coming in at wing defence is Ash Brazill, with the Australian Diamond able to move into centre as well when needed. There is no denying that she is one of the most athletic midcourters in netball history with her aerial ability and speed off the mark.

In the shooting circle, it is a combination of twin towers with excitement machine, the unpredictable Gretel Bueta getting the nod at goal attack. She is simply unstoppable both in the air and at ground level able to gobble up everything that comes her way while her increased accuracy makes her even more of a threat. Bueta consistently uses her athleticism and strength to out-position defenders under the post and shoot truly. Jamaican shooting machine, Jhaniele Fowler takes out the goal shooter position thanks to her continued dominance, height, strong holds and high volume. Her ability to use her body and feet to ward off defenders is second to none.

Unlucky not to get the start is Australian captain, Caitlin Bassett who was just pipped at the post by Fowler while the likes of Adean Thomas through the midcourt and defender Courtney Bruce also just missed out.

New Zealand & England (Silver Roses)

GK: Geva Mentor
GD: Katrina Rore
WD: Karin Burger
C: Laura Langman
WA: Nat Haythornthwaite
GA: Ameliaranne Ekenasio
GS: Jo Harten

BENCH: Helen Housby, Serena Guthrie, Jane Watson

There is no shortage of star power across the court for the Silver Roses with key players across each third of the court. Each player oozes class, experience and an innate winning ability. Starting down back is arguably one of the most experienced defenders and goal keepers in the world, Geva Mentor. The England Roses defender is in a league of her own, able to read the play and swat the ball away with her well-timed leaps and pressure over the shot. Moving out into goal defence is versatile New Zealand defender Katrina Rore renowned for her aerial presence and intercepting ability. She is light on her feet able to spring into action at any time and also possesses that attacking element to transition the ball from one end of the court to the other.

The defensive minded Karin Burger is another sure start for the Silver Roses with her impressive wingspan and quick change of direction. Burger proved to be a key cog for New Zealand able to direct traffic down back and can seamlessly switch into circle defence when needed such is her netball IQ. Her balance around circle edge ensures she remains a constant threat to force turnovers while in centre it is hard to go past the services of Laura Langman. The veteran Silver Fern is simply unstoppable able to run all day and everyday using her ball movement to open up the attacking end and deliver pin-point passes. Although she is more defensively minded able to apply pressure on the ball carrier and pick off intercepts her ability to switch into attack makes a never-ending threat. In at wing attack is England Roses midcourter and part-time shooter Nat Haythornthwaite. Although more commonly seen delivering the ball to the goalers with her clever placement around circle edge, quick footwork and hard drive to circle edge Haythornthwaite can slide into goal attack when needed.

The goal circle oozes nothing but class, shooting prowess and versatility with both able to switch between positions. Ameliaranne Ekenasio takes out the goal attack position with her smooth movement constantly on display while her ability to slot them from anywhere makes her an ominous threat for opposition teams. She is cool, calm and collected under the post and is not afraid to re-position to get into a more commanding spot while her ball handling skills is second to none. Much like her fellow goaler, Jo Harten can stand up and deliver long bomb after long bomb. Her ability to shake up her game style from a holding to a moving shooter keeps defenders on their toes.

Rounding out the squad is England Roses goaler Helen Housby along with teammate and defensive midcourter Serena Guthrie while Silver Ferns defender Jane Watson is the final piece of the puzzle.

Who would win?

Given the versatility of the Silver Roses it is fair to say that they have the upper hand over the Diamond Girls with each of their players able to move into another position with ease. The Silver Roses ooze dominance from the defensive unit right through the midcourt to the goalers, able to exploit the Diamond Girls especially through the midcourt.

Top 20 players over 30: #14 Romelda Aiken

THERE are a host of international players across the world that much like fine wine, have simply gotten better with age. With netball on hold due to the COVID-19 outbreak Draft Central takes a look at players that fall into the category of over 30 and still have plenty in the tank given their on-court prowess. Coming in at number 14 on the countdown is none other than Jamaican shooting powerhouse and veteran of the Queensland Firebirds Romelda Aiken.

Aiken is entering her twelfth season with the Queensland Firebirds with the 31-year-old shooter simply improving as time goes by. Her ability to read the play and command the ball under the post is second to none. The Jamaican goal shooter is arguably one of the most prominent goalers in the Suncorp Super Netball with her impressive aerial ability and strength. Although she can be shaky on the shot, Aiken is almost unstoppable on the offensive rebound, gobbling up anything that falls short with her long arms and clever positioning.

Standing at 196cm Aiken is hard to beat in the air, able to take the ball at full stretch. Given her height, her balance is highly impressive, able to tiptoe along the baseline and reel in any passes that many players would not be able to control. She is quite agile and nimble able to move her feet with ease and position strongly under the post. She is not often outmuscled by her opponents and has a dash of speed to dart into the circle and demand the ball.

Her game play has only gotten better over the years with her connection with Gretel Bueta simply too hot to handle for many defenders. Aiken’s ability to dish off perfectly timed flick passes in the circle or vision to sight Bueta in the attacking third makes them such a dynamic duo. At 31, Aiken has added a couple more strings to her bow, proving that she can get on the move and draw the defender out of the circle to allow Bueta to take the drive into the circle. Her general netball understanding and movement is what makes her such a damaging prospect for opposition teams.

Although Aiken is renowned for her shooting prowess, the Sunshine Girl has showed her hand as a defender, using her lanky arms to apply pressure over the shot and cause doubt in the feeders’ minds. While still learning the goal keeper position, her ability to switch it up is a testament to the type of a-class player she is, able to be thrown into any position and simply perform. Her netball nous to get ball-side of her opponent and use the outside arm to cause a deflection showcases just how intuitive she is as a player and will only get better with further exposure.

There is no denying that Aiken’s aerial presence is what makes her such a focal point of both the Jamaican international team and Firebirds and while she is heading towards the tail end of her career, Aiken has proven that she can still mix it with the best given her high level of endurance and ball handling skills.

TOP 20 PLAYERS OVER 30:

#20 Stacey Francis (West Coast Fever/England)
#19 Laura Scherian (Sunshine Coast Lightning/Australia)
#18 Ama Agbeze (Severn Stars/England)
#17 Phumza Maweni (Sunshine Coast Lightning/South Africa)
#16 Jade Clarke (Wasps Netball/England)
#15 Chelsea Pitman (Adelaide Thunderbirds/England)

#14 Romelda Aiken (Queensland Firebirds/Jamaica)