IT was a huge weekend of Suncorp Super Netball trades as the first week of player movement ahead of 2022 was completed, with late Friday announcements coupled with Collingwood Magpies confirming its entire 2022 squad to really shake up the trade period.
A couple more clubs bid goodbye to formidable and developing talent, with Tippah Dwan and Rudi Ellis both set to play elsewhere in 2022 after spending time on the Queensland Firebirds bench this season. Dwan opted to leave the Firebirds to gain further court time and a potential starting role, while Ellis had limited time on court this season and was advised that she did not fit into the club’s future plans.
Firebirds head coach Megan Anderson commended Dwan and Ellis for their work ethic and development, thanking both players for their time at the club.
“Tippah is an amazing talent and one of the most genuine and humble players in the league,” Anderson said. “We appreciate her need to gain more opportunities on the court and have no doubt she will continue to impress in 2022. We will miss her and wish her well.”
“Rudi has been an integral part of the purple family, both on and off the court,” Anderson said. “She’s had immense growth over the two seasons with the Firebirds and we know her career will continue to progress in 2022 and beyond.”
Monday brought further changes for the Firebirds, with Tara Hinchliffe choosing to depart the club despite receiving a new offer, amidst rehabbing an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury in the latter stage of the season. Anderson said she was saddened to see Hinchliffe depart the purple army, but wished her the best for her career.
“Tara has been a defining force in our circle for the past four years,” Anderson said. “As an athlete she’s persistent, well known for her quiet determination and competitiveness.
“She’s a genuine and selfless person who gives her all to the club and Firebirds have been lucky to have watched her grow into an amazing athlete.
“We want to thank Tara for all she has given to the club and the purple fans and wish her well as she recovers from her recent knee surgery.”
“I am super excited to be back in purple next season,” Dunkley said. “It felt like yesterday since moving to Queensland … I absolutely love it here and the purple family feels like one of my own.
“I am really proud and honoured to represent the Firebirds and cannot wait to get stuck into pre-season with the girls and work hard to achieve great things at this club.”
Jenner was similarly excited about returning to the club and contributing to the Firebirds’ hunt for finals in 2022.
“This club has a proud history and legacy,” Jenner said. “We have unfinished business, and I am determined to take it to the next level with these girls in 2022.”
Meanwhile, Sunshine Coast Lightning finally made its first announcements, with Australian Diamonds goal shooter Cara Koenen set to pull on the Lightning dress for two more seasons, while Kate Shimmin was confirmed on Monday afternoon.
“I’ve really enjoyed working with Kate this season, she is a real team player and her unique style of play is exciting as a coach, strategically,” coach Kylie Byrne said. “Her enthusiasm is contagious and that has been a really valuable attribute during another season impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Kate made some huge gains in pre-season last year and the aim is to continue that growth now to enable her to play the consistent 60 minute games for next season.
“We’re glad to have her back on board and I can’t wait to see what she produces in 2022.”
“To see what Cara has achieved in the past two seasons especially has been so pleasing and I have no doubt there is plenty of improvement to come as she adds new dimensions to her game,” Byrne said. “Cara is not afraid of hard work and while there has always been incredible raw talent, it’s that dedication to her craft that has elevated her status to one of the best shooters in the world.
“I’ve really enjoyed watching her discover her voice and take on the responsibility of being a senior member of our team and consistently leading by example.”
Koenen piled on a career best 517 goals in season 2021, starring in goal shooter with her movement and smarts, while also developing her goal attack craft and adding an extra string to her bow in the process.
“Lightning holds such a special place in my heart and I’m glad to continue my time at the Sunshine Coast for the next two seasons,” Koenen said. “I’m really enjoying my netball at the moment and the challenge of drawing some of the best defenders each week.”
In the Adelaide Thunderbirds camp, two players signed on while one bade farewell. Exciting defender Tilly Garrett and versatile midcourter Maisie Nankivell are both set to return to the fray for the next two years, with Thunderbirds High Performance Manager Pitre Bourdon impressed by both players’ work ethic and determination throughout the season.
“Matilda slotted into our defensive end with ease and has formed strong combinations across the court,” Bourdon said. “She is highly respected amongst the playing group and staff and is showing herself to be a natural leader on and off the court.”
“Maisie’s preparation and professional approach has allowed her to develop her game even further this season,” he continued. “She shined in her leadership role this season and is a well-respected member of this side.
“Her ability to play across all three midcourt positions gives us great flexibility and we’re very pleased to have her back in 2022.”
However, Victorian Sam Gooden will part ways with the club after two seasons, with Bourdon thanking the goal attack for her contribution to the squad.
“Sam brought great professionalism and maturity to our side over the past two years and is a well-respected player and person at this club,” Bourdon said. “We thank her for everything she has done for the Thunderbirds and wish her the very best for the future.”
Heading up to New South Wales, and it was a trio of goalers – across two different teams – that were announced, with NSW Swifts locking in their starting goalers Helen Housby and Sam Wallace for another two years as GIANTS Netball confirmed youngster Sophie Dwyer has re-signed with the club for the same time frame. The young goal attack had a breakout season in 2021, stepping up to an inadvertent starting role following injury to Kiera Austin, and says she is excited to return for another two seasons.
“We are building something really special at this club and I’m grateful and excited to be a part of it. I can’t wait to get back out on court again next year,” Dwyer said. “I learned a lot from the 2021 season, and I can’t wait to continue developing my game over the next couple of years.
“It’s any young netballer’s dream to play at the elite level and to do it with the GIANTS is extra special.”
The GIANTS also confirmed the return of developing goal keeper Tilly McDonell, with the 21-year-old committing for two more seasons.
“I absolutely love this club and truly believe we have something special building here,” McDonell said. “We have this incredible environment which focuses on the development of both our youth and experience where we all push to get the best out of each other every session.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that we can’t take that extra step next season and bring home the trophy.”
Swifts two-time premiership coach Briony Akle says she is delighted to see both Housby and Wallace return, with the two a key fixture for the squad’s success and where the club wants to head in the future.
“Sam and Helen have been instrumental to our growth and success since they joined the club, and now have an extra maturity and intelligence to their netball knowledge,” Akle said. “When we’ve needed them to step up in big games they have delivered time and time again, and we are thrilled both will remain in Sydney for the next chapter of this club’s history.
“As well as their telepathy on the court they are very close off it and are more than just team-mates. They are friends who care deeply about each other and that’s the bond we are looking for across this club.
“We might have added a seventh Premiership to the cabinet recently but there is no intention to rest on our laurels and both Helen and Sam are key to where we want to go next.”
The Melbourne Vixens continued their daily signings with Hannah Mundy officially added to the fray for next season. The talented midcourter had a starting role throughout the 2021 season as an injury replacement, and in turn earned her first official SSN contract following an impressive run in wing attack.
“This year was a dream come true, and I’ve been so grateful for the opportunity that the club has given me,” Mundy said.
“I’m really excited to sign on officially, and to learn from and play alongside some of the best netballers in the world.
“Liz (Watson) has been a great mentor for me, particularly this year in her leadership role from the sideline. I’m really looking forward to continuing to learn everything I can off her when she’s out on court.”
Picture credit: AAP