Category: SSN

2021 SSN signing update: 20/9

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.”

It was not all sad news for the Firebirds, who re-signed talented duo Lara Dunkley and Kim Jenner to join Kim Ravaillion on their 2022 list.

“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.”

2021 SSN signings: Week one

Picture credit: AAP

Magpies swoop to re-sign eight, complete squad of 10

COLLINGWOOD has already completed its full complement of 10 players for the 2022 Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) season by announcing the re-signing eight players this morning.

The Magpies announced that captain Geva Mentor, Kelsey Browne, Ash Brazill, Jodi-Ann Ward, Shimona Nelson and Molly Jovic will all remain at the club for a further two years. On top of the half-dozen multi-year deals, Gabrielle Sinclair and Jacqui Newton – the latter of whom was acquired from the Melbourne Vixens in last year’s off-season – have signed on for a further season.

The re-signings followed on from the announcement that the Magpies had added former NSW Swifts shooter Sophie Garbin to the list, as well as upgraded training partner Maggie Lind. The Magpies became the first of the Super Netball clubs to confirm their 10-player squad, announcing the entire list in the space of 24 hours.

Magpies head coach Nicole Richardson said it was fantastic to have seven players – including Garbin – sign on for two years and provide continuity for the team in the coming seasons.

We are delighted to have finalised our squad for 2022,” Richardson said. “Each player has played a key role in establishing a solid foundation for this club and their signatures today not only provide great stability, but also demonstrates their commitment and belief in our program.

“With multiple players committing for two years, we are pleased to secure the future of our club and they will all play crucial roles in ensuring we are best positioned to achieve success in 2022 and beyond.”

In order to bring both Garbin and Lind into the fold for the 2022 Super Netball season, the Magpies bid farewell to Mel Bragg and Kalifa McCollin who were not offered contract extensions. Bragg has been at the club since 2018, beginning in a training partner capacity, while McCollin signed with the Magpies at the start of the 2021 season.

“We would like to thank both Mel and Kalifa for their contributions to our program,” Richardson said. “We’ve been lucky to have Mel with us for the last four years and even though we’ve had a short time with Kalifa, they’ve both been valuable members of our team and we wish them all the best for the future.”

Currently on break for the off-season, Collingwood’s Super Netball program will return to the Holden Centre for pre-season training in December.

2022 COLLINGWOOD MAGPIES LIST:

Ash Brazill
Kelsey Browne
Sophie Garbin
Molly Jovic
Maggie Lind
Geva Mentor
Shimona Nelson
Jacqui Newton
Gabrielle Sinclair
Jodi-Ann Ward

Picture credit: Collingwood Twitter

SSN signings week one: The story so far

IT has been a huge opening week of Suncorp Super Netball signings thus far, with plenty of massive names signing back on to their respective clubs – 15 to be exact. While signings have steadily trickled in throughout the week, only a few fresh faces have officially been added to the mix thus far with plenty expected to come in the upcoming weeks. The big coup of the week is the confirmation of Sophie Garbin making the move down south, signing with the Collingwood Magpies for both 2022 and 2023. Two elevations have been announced, with Rahni Samason officially elevated from being a Melbourne Vixens training partner and injury replacement to be one of their 10 squad-members next season, while Maggie Lind has earned her first official call-up to the Collingwood Magpies ranks. In the non-signings, both Sam Poolman and Maddy McAuliffe have decided to call time on their respective careers, while the Swifts bench trio have all explored other options, with Nat Haythornthwaite heading back home to the UK and Lauren Moore turning down a contract in favour of fresh opportunities.

In massive news on Saturday morning, Collingwood re-signed eight players to complete its roster of 10 for the 2022 season. Geva Mentor, Ash Brazill, Kelsey Browne, Jodi-Ann Ward, Shimona Nelson and Molly Jovic all joined Garbin on two-year deals at the black and white, whilst Gabrielle Sinclair and Jacqui Newton signed on for next year.

>>SSN 2022 signing period explained

2021 SSN signing updates: Monday 13/9 | Tuesday 14/9 | Wednesday 15/9 | Thursday 16/9 | Friday 17/9 | Saturday 18/9

What player changes could we see amongst SSN clubs? // Where does Sophie Garbin fit in 2022?

 

 

Picture credit: Melbourne Vixens

2021 SSN signing update: 17/9

PLAYER signings came in thick and fast on Friday morning, with a couple of early confirmations putting fans at ease and nerves at  bay with some key returnees announced.

The NSW Swifts continued their trend of announcing two at a time, with key defensive duo Sarah Klau and Maddy Turner signing on for two more seasons. The champion circle defenders have forged an unstoppable and formidable combination over the past few seasons, playing significant roles in the club’s finals resurgence and premierships in 2019 and 2021.

“I have loved playing for the Swifts since joining back in 2017 so I’m stoked to be on board for another two years,” goal keeper, Klau said. “It is not just what we’ve been able to achieve on the court, but the way we connect off it which makes it a special club to play for.”

“We haven’t had much of a chance to play at home so I felt it was only right to sign for another two years and get back out in front of our NSW fans and members after almost two full seasons away. “Winning another Premiership this year was amazing but now we’re excited to go back and defend our title on our home court.”

Turner added that getting to play alongside one of her best friends is “a pretty cool job to have”. The goal defence has 87 caps with the club since 2016, and is eyeing off the elusive 100 club in the red dress.

“What I love most about the Swifts is the culture and the inclusiveness both on and off the court … Getting to play with Sarah for another two years really excites me too. I think she is the best goal keeper in the world and she’s also one of my best friends so to play alongside her is a pretty cool job to have. “I never thought when joined back in 2016 that I’d have two titles and be close to playing 100 games for a club as prestigious as the Swifts. This team has allowed me make my dreams a reality.

“Winning titles only makes you hungrier for more and while we’ll have some changes in our team next year, we are ready to build on what we’ve achieved already.”

The Swifts defence has been whittled down to just the two though, with a second Swifts announcement confirming that Lauren Moore will not return to the club next season despite being offered another contract.

“I honestly love this club so much,” Moore said. “I have shared some of the best moments of my life with my Swifts teammates, coaches, staff members and fans over the past six years.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone at the club, its supporters and Netball NSW for supporting me to this point in my career and I feel so lucky to have been part of two title-winning campaigns.

“As you can imagine this was a decision I thought long and hard over and it’s been an exceptionally difficult one to make, but I feel it is the best one for me to take my game to the next level.”

Head coach Briony Akle thanked Moore for her time at the club, with the defender playing 37 games since her initial debut in 2016.

“We are obviously sad to see Lozzie go but we understand her decision and we respect it,” Akle said. “I have had the privilege of coaching her through the Netball NSW pathway right up to Swifts level and I’ve been hugely impressed by how she’s bounced back from big injury setbacks to establish herself as top level player.

“It doesn’t surprise me that Lozzie has had offers from other clubs and we all wish her the best for what comes next. She will always be a Swifts Premiership champion I’m delighted that we were able to achieve that during her time with us.”

Meanwhile, the Adelaide Thunderbirds made their first official signing, securing up and coming goal attack Georgie Horjus. Still only 20-years-old, Horjus is a cult favourite already with her accuracy, evasive movement and ability to control the flow of the game some of her standout traits. High Performance Manager Pitre Bourdon says the club is excited to announce Horjus’ return, showcasing the local’s talent and the great development pathway in South Australia.

“Georgie cemented her place in our starting seven in 2021, building on the potential we saw from her in 2020,” Bourdon said. “She is an incredibly talented local netballer with strong netball smarts and we’re very excited to see her continue to grow in the coming seasons. “Georgie is passionate about the club and playing for her state and we’re confident she will play a key role in our club’s future.”

In the first fresh signing ahead of 2021, Melbourne Vixens announced that training partner Rahni Samason has been elevated to the main squad for the first time. The exciting goal shooter played three matches for the Vixens during 2021 as an injury replacement player, earning the greatest reward for her effort.

“It’s such an honour and I’m really excited to officially join the Vixens next season,” said Samason. “I’ve been a part of the Vixens environment for a few years now as a squad member, and travelling with the team this year, so I know the club’s values are aligned to the culture I want to be a part of, so I’m thrilled to be a part of that next year.

“I’ve taken away a lot of learnings from my time, particularly this year being able to work with Simone and the team so closely. I know that we’re onto something pretty special in this next stage and I’m really excited to play my role in that.”

Meanwhile, Collingwood Magpies dropped a bombshell with their first big announcement of the signing period, snatching up goaler Sophie Garbin and elevating midcourter Maggie Lind in a huge move for the black and white. Head coach Nicole Richardson said she has been continually impressed by Garbin over past few seasons, while Lind has showcased plenty of determination in the pathways program to earn an official call-up.

“We’re so excited both for Sophie and Maggie,” Richardson said. “It’s been fantastic to see Soph’s confidence grow over the last few seasons and we think she’ll be a really strong asset for us under the ring. With the success she’s had with the Swifts and the Diamonds, we can’t wait to see her rise to this new opportunity.

“Maggie’s call up is a huge credit to her constant effort and commitment. We’re looking forward to seeing where she can take her game at the next level.”

2021 SSN signings update: 16/9 | 2021 SSN signings update: 15/9 | 2021 SSN signings update: 14/9 | 2021 SSN signings update: 13/9

 

Picture credit: Adelaide Thunderbirds via Twitter

This week in netball – SSN re-signings kick off with a bang

IT has been another huge week in netball, with Suncorp Super Netball re-signings getting underway and plenty of intrigue surrounding who will be the first official trade announced. Elsewhere, England and New Zealand are  gearing up for a test series with another Cadbury Series in the works for the Silver Ferns and men’s squad while team lists were confirmed for the upcoming Sunshine Series between Jamaica, South Africa and Trinidad and Tobago.

Suncorp Super Netball 2022 is looking fairly similar to last season so far, with only a couple of big changes in the opening week of announcements. Those big changes have made holes in a couple of lineups though, with Maddy McAuliffe‘s choice to forego a 2022 contract shaking up the Sunshine Coast Lightning. She joins both Peace Proscovia and Phumza Maweni on the list of players not returning to the Lightning ranks, with at least two starting roles now up for grabs there, while the NSW Swifts confirmed that neither Sophie Garbin nor Nat Haythornthwaite would return next season, with Garbin offered an unconfirmed contract elsewhere and Haythornthwaite heading back to the UK. Factor in GIANTS foundation player Sam Poolman‘s unexpected retirement, the Adelaide Thunderbirds confirming Shadine van der Merwe will not return next season and the Melbourne Vixens’ announcement that Kaylia Stanton will depart the club, and that leaves a number of holes to be plugged.

The Vixens, Swifts and Fever have confirmed their 2021 captains will all return to their respective clubs, with the Vixens and Swifts leading the pack with four confirmed returnees so far. Fever is next in line with three rejoining the ranks, while GIANTS Netball have confirmed two and both Adelaide Thunderbirds and Queensland Firebirds have re-signed just the one player apiece thus far. Neither Collingwood Magpies nor Lightning have confirmed their first 2022 signs as of yet.

Across the ditch, the Taini Jamison test series between the New Zealand Silver Ferns and England Roses is set to go ahead next week, with Monday’s opening clash proving tantalising. The Ferns encountered a couple of issues around player movements across the country given ongoing COVID restrictions, with confirmation yesterday that four of the Auckland based squad members – including new captain Gina Crampton and vice-captain Sulu Fitzpatrick would be granted dispensation to travel for the series.

With the four players requiring negative COVID-19 tests, strict protocols and a Ministry of Health assessment of public health risk and economic impact, Netball New Zealand Chief Executive Jennie Wyllie said that the exemption would not be taken lightly.

“We are extremely grateful to the Ministry of Health and for the assistance of Sport New Zealand to allow these players the opportunity to be a part of the Cadbury Netball Series,” Wyllie said.

“To be able to play international sport during these times is something we don’t take for granted, so we’d like to acknowledge the work done behind the scenes from many to ensure this series can go ahead.”

Three elevated players – Georgia TongParis Lokotui and Kimiora Poi – will still be part of the squad series despite initially being added to the fray in the off chance the Auckland quartet could not join ranks. Silver Ferns head coach Dame Noeline Taurua said that the decision would benefit the Ferns in the long run, giving the squad plenty of options with such a short and disrupted lead-in to the series.

“It was really important to us to give a full squad as much time as possible to train together,” Taurua said. “This is an opportunity for Georgia, Kimi and Paris to showcase the form that we’ve seen from them during the ANZ Premiership and I know they will ensure the competition for starting spots remains strong.

“We have a limited build up but I think we’re going to see a true test in character of this Silver Ferns squad and we are grateful to have the opportunity to play these Test matches.”

Serena Guthrie has been named England Roses captain for the series, with the centurion an integral fixture in the Roses squad since her debut in 2008. The defensive midcourter is as dynamic as they come, and says she is “honoured” to be given the role given the amount of talent within the England ranks.

“I am absolutely honoured to be given this role,” Guthrie said. “This group are incredible, and they inspire the country, they inspire me, and they inspire the fans back home and we are looking forward to putting some great performances out on the court.”

Head coach Jess Thirlby is thrilled with the appointment of Guthrie and the four-player leadership group, which will see Laura Malcolm, Fran Williams and Haythornthwaite assist Guthrie over the course of England’s upcoming tests.

“Serena embodies all of what being a Rose means and the values that the group work hard to uphold. Not only is she able to inspire people by the way she expresses herself on court but her energy off it motivates the team to go on the journey with her too. She is a proven force and well respected on the international stage and is restless in wanting the team to be better day in, day out.

“I am a big believer in shared and collaborative leadership and am proud of the growth the team have shown in this area over the last two years. Serena is well supported by the leadership group of Nat, Fran and Laura and also by a Roses team with an abundance of leadership experience. The trio that makes up the leadership group have been outstanding over the past two years in navigating some challenging times and have done so with humility, passion and drive.”

A three-match invitational has also been announced this week, with the Silver Ferns set to take on the New Zealand Men’s squad across October 10, 11 and 12 in Hamilton. The event will also see curtain raiser clashes between the New Zealand A and New Zealand Under 21 teams. New Zealand Men’s and Mixed Netball Association President Junior Tana said the Cadbury Netball Series is a huge opportunity to develop the men’s squads skills against the world champions.

“We are really excited to be able to get some of our elite men’s players out on court after Covid led to the postponement of our 2021 Men’s Nationals,” Tana said. “We always love these dual gender clashes as they push our athletes to new extremes and add to the development of both sides.

“Horekau he tīma i kō atu i Ngā Kaponga hei hoa whawhai mā mātou i Aotearoa nei hei whakapakari ake i ō mātou pukenga. [There’s no more worthy opponents than the Silver Ferns in New Zealand to grow and develop our skills].”

Big news has come out of the Vitality Netball Superleague this week, with the VNSL full signing window open ahead of the 2022 season and  coming hand in hand with an increase in the current salary cap. The salary increase is a promising move for the league, with the overall cap increased by 29 per cent compared to 2021 and the minimum individual salary increased by 20 per cent. Clubs can also now have two players who sit outside the salary cap, increased from one in 2021, with the remaining 10 falling within the cap compared to nine this year. The signing period opened on September 15 and is set to close on October 15, leaving four weeks for the 11 franchises to confirm their full 15 player squads made up of 12 ‘registered players’ and up to three training partners. As per regular VNSL guidelines, each team can sign two non-UK players, with the stipulation that they may not play in the same third at the same time throughout the season.

Meanwhile, the British Fast5 Netball All-Stars Championship will return in October, with the top eight from season 2021 – Loughborough Lightning, Manchester Thunder, Team Bath, Leeds Rhinos, Saracens Mavericks, Strathclyde Sirens, Wasps Netball and London Pulse – competing in a double elimination group stage before semi-finals and and a grand final between the top two sides. Both Pulse and Rhinos will debut in the format for the first time.

VNSL Chair Steve Elworthy says he is excited to see the return of the Fast5 event, set to play out on October 30 at Copper Box Arena in London.

“We’re delighted to see the return of Fast5 – an exciting and dynamic adaptation of the traditional game that both fans and players enjoy,” Elworthy said. “The atmosphere each year is electric, and it promises to be even bigger and better in 2021, with fans able to see some of their favourite players in action ahead of the Vitality Netball Superleague 2022 season.”

Meanwhile, squads have been confirmed for the upcoming Margaret Beckford Sunshine Series between the Jamaica Sunshine GirlsSouth Africa Spar Proteas and Trinidad & Tobago Calypso Girls in October. Set to play out from October 10-22 in Kingston, Jamaica, all three squads boast some great talent and developing players with a number of hopeful debutants named across the three teams.

Away from the international action this week, Draft Central posed a couple of hypotheticals, including asking the question of where Garbin heads next season as well as what kinds of player movements could happen, while also looking at the best defensive prospects across the netball big five and comparing and contrasting Donnell Wallam and Grace Nweke.

Picture credit: Getty Images

2021 SSN signings update: 16/9

THE fourth day of Suncorp Super Netball signings opened with a bang, with a number of premiership players returning to the fray while Melbourne Vixens continued their daily re-signs.

The first big call of the day saw NSW Swifts announce the return of double premiership co-captains Maddy Proud and Paige Hadley, with both committing for another two seasons. The midcourt duo have led the charge over the past few seasons, leading the Swifts to two premierships in three seasons.

“I have loved being a part of the Swifts since moving from Adelaide after Suncorp Super Netball replaced the ANZ Championship and have really found a home in Sydney,” Proud said.

“With Briony at the helm and sharing the captaincy with Paigey, I have learned so much about the Swifts teams of the past and I think we’ve given ourselves a great shot to continue their legacy.

“It’s a bloody great club with top people on court, off court, in the stands and wherever people tune in from around NSW and further afield.”

Hadley also touched on the family aspect of the club, explaining how proud she is to represent and lead the club she grew up supporting.

“I love the Swifts and I am passionate about what we have created over the past number of years, and where we can go in the coming seasons,” she said. “2022 will be my 11th year with the Swifts and having been on the road for so much of the last two years I can’t wait to play at home again in front of my family, friends and of course our Swifts fans.

“This is a very special club, and to have had the honour of captaining the Swifts makes me immensely proud and excited for challenges that lie ahead.

“As a NSW junior I am thrilled to be a part of a team that inspires the next generation of talent coming through the pathways. I can’t wait to go again.”

Continuing the grand finalists trend, the GIANTS have re-signed star defender April Brandley, confirming the goal defence would be part of the team for the next two seasons in an exciting look to the future.

“I’m really looking forward to hitting the court with the GIANTS again next season and I get really excited looking at what’s ahead for our team,” Brandley said. “The club have been incredible with the support they’ve shown my family and myself in making the transition from motherhood, to getting back on court.

“I feel grateful to be in a place where I’m really enjoying my netball, so I’m very much looking forward to what we can continue to build in 2022.

“Hopefully that looks like some more home games and a home finals series.”

The Vixens’ steady trickle of player signings has continued, with Emily Mannix joining fellow returnees and Melbourne stalwarts in Kate Moloney, Liz Watson and partner in crime Jo Weston.

“Playing for the Vixens is such an honour, and I’m really excited to have signed again, and to be part of this next phase and group that we’re building,” Mannix said. “This year was obviously frustrating for me personally with injury, but it’s given me even more motivation to play my role next year and hopefully take it all the way as a team.

“I love playing with Jo down back. The two of us know each other’s game really well and I can’t wait to continue building our partnership out on court.”

Finally, Queensland Firebirds made their long awaited first announcement, confirming gut-running centre Kim Ravaillion will return again in 2022 and 2023. Head coach Megan Anderson is excited by Ravaillion’s decision to sign on with the club for two more seasons.

“Kim Rav is an absolute professional, she brings so much energy, accountability, and drive to the team,” Anderson said.

“She’s always wanting the best from herself and her teammates and is continually pushing to learn and grow as a player and a person.”

Ravaillion echoed that sentiment, explaining her excitement about the potential to grow from the past few seasons and achieve some success after a big rebuild.

“I signed on because I believe this club has so much potential,” Ravaillion said. “I feel we showed glimpses of what we were capable of which is exciting for what’s ahead.

“In 2022 I want to be holding that trophy up with my team.”

The West Coast Fever also named their third signing, with key midcourter Verity Charles confirmed for the next two years. The Fever are another club with unfinished business and high hopes for 2022, with Charles looking to better their finals form and claim that elusive maiden club premiership.

“I am really excited and my gratitude and appreciation to be a part of this club is super high right now,” Charles said. “We’ve got unfinished business. It was a tough year this year. We’ve learned, we’ve seen what we need to do, and I think now we’ll put the goods through. “It’s really exciting times at Fever.”

2021 SSN signings update: 15/92021 SSN signings update: 14/9 | 2021 SSN signings update: 13/9

Picture credit: Getty Images

2021 SSN signings update: 15/9

PLAYER signings continued this week, with a couple of big names returning to their 2021 clubs as GIANTS Netball and Adelaide Thunderbirds made their first 2022 list announcements.

The GIANTS opened up the day with their first re-sign ahead of the upcoming season, confirming Jamie-Lee Price will remain in the orange dress for seasons 2022/23. A dynamic midcourter with plenty of strengths in her arsenal, Price was a key cog in the GIANTS’ grand final tilt this season and will look to continue her run of playing all 78 matches the GIANTS have played since the Suncorp Super Netball’s inception.

“I’m really thrilled to extend my time at the GIANTS,” Price said. “I’m super excited for the next couple of years – 2021 was a great year for us as a group and I can’t wait to build on from the year that was.”

Meanwhile, Adelaide Thunderbirds made their first announcement of the post-season, confirming South African import Shadine van der Merwe would not be returning to the club next season. The wing defence played 36 matches with the Thunderbirds throughout the course of three seasons, after joining as an injury replacement in 2019, before retaining her position in the squad throughout the COVID-19 ravaged 2020/21 seasons.

“I’ve met special people, made friends for life and played my best netball,” van der Merwe said. “It’s been a dream to be here, playing against the best in the world and seeing the passion and hard work that goes into our wonderful sport.

“I want to thank the coaching and management team, the incredible fans and most importantly, my wonderful teammates – thank you for taking me into your hearts and being so kind, I will miss you all.”

The Melbourne Vixens have unveiled their third 2022 signing, with Jo Weston officially returning to the fray. The goal defence returns for her ninth season at the club, and is a clear leader in the back-end with her consistency and connections across the court.

“Going into my ninth season, I’ve definitely seen the game grow in a lot of aspects. We’re stepping into a new phase of the sport that I really hope will help lift the profile of all our athletes, and women’s sport in general,” Weston said. “Every game is an honour to represent Victoria and Melbourne, and I’m really looking forward to what we can bring as a team next year.

“From a Vixens point of view, I know that with the team we’re building, we’re going to be in a good position to bounce back in 2022.”

Meanwhile, Maddie McAuliffe has announced she is stepping away from the sport altogether, choosing to forego the Sunshine Coast Lightning’s 2022 offer to focus on her post-netball career in the legal field.

“I feel incredibly privileged to be offered another contract at Lightning for the 2022 season and I thank the Club for that, but this year I’ve made one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever had to make,” McAuliffe said.

“Essentially the decision was either to continue playing netball or to focus on my non-netball professional career – and while it was a really tough choice for me to make, I have chosen to appreciate the five years I’ve had at the Club and move onto the next phase of my life.

“I feel so grateful for the past five years and the opportunities this Club has presented me, the people I’ve met, the relationships I’ve built and the home I’ve built on the Sunshine Coast.”

Head coach Kylie Byrne commended McAuliffe for making the tough decision, and bidding the Lightning foundations player good luck for her future endeavours.

“We knew the day would come that one of our five year foundation players wouldn’t be a part of our playing future but it doesn’t make it any easier when it actually happens,” Byrne said.

“After coaching Maddy since she was seventeen, I personally am so proud of everything she has accomplished, whether it was on the court or establishing her connections with her teammates, our staff and our community.

“Maddy was extremely passionate about leaving the sport in a better place for the future generations of netballers and she has achieved this.

“We wish Maddy nothing but the absolute best in her future endeavours.

“I have no doubt that Maddy will excel in whatever challenge she tackles next in life and she will forever be part of our Lightning family as a foundation player.”

2021 SSN signings update: 14/9 | 2021 SSN signings update: 13/9

Picture credit: Suncorp Super Netball

2021 SSN signings update: 14/9

IT has been a relatively quiet start to the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) free agency period this week, with just one player announced to return to their 2021 club on the opening day yesterday, with just one more confirmation and a somewhat expected departure the only news on Tuesday.

The first of the day’s announcements was the last many UK fans wanted to hear, with Nat Haythornthwaite officially announcing she will be heading home to England after months of speculation. The England Roses wing attack joined the NSW Swifts midway through SSN season 2018, and has been a crucial cog through the Swifts midcourt during both the club’s 2019 and 2021 premierships. Haythornthwaite explained that while she has loved her time with the Swifts, she is excited to head back home to the UK.

“When I got the call to come in as a replacement player in 2018, I never thought that I would go on to have the experiences I’ve had with this club,” Haythornthwaite said. “I have loved every moment of my time with the Swifts and playing with – and against – so many of the world’s best players in Suncorp Super Netball. This year was extra special to win the title in such testing circumstances, and to head home with two winners’ medals is something I didn’t even dare to dream of before arriving.

“After these past few years I am really excited to be going home, getting married, seeing my family and playing some more netball. But I also can’t wait to cheer on the Swifts late at night on the TV.

“I’ve loved the journey but now it’s time to head home.”

Swifts head coach Briony Akle thanked Haythornthwaite for her time with the club and commended the fleet-footed wing attack for the value she added to the club throughout her 37 games.

“At the Swifts we try to instil a culture of good people making great players and Natalie is one of the best on both counts,” Akle said. “She has spent a huge amount of time away from her fiancé and family in very tough circumstances as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but that never changed her professional and team-first approach which was hugely valued by everyone at the club.

“We completely understand her decision to go back to the UK and she does so with two titles under her belt. That’s a pretty great return for a very special individual.”

Meanwhile, Melbourne Vixens continued its trend of teasing out re-signed players first, confirming that recovering midcourter Liz Watson will indeed return to the fray after a season away from the court in rehab after foot surgery. The star midcourter joins Kate Moloney as the only two confirmed Vixens signings for season 2022.

“Having had the year off, I’m more excited than ever to get back out on court with the team and show our supporters what they know we can do,” Watson said. “Watching on from the sidelines this year has given me more of an appreciation of the wider club and the roles we all play, and I’m looking forward to taking what I’ve learned in my time off the court and helping rebuild.

“This year was not how we wanted to come off the back of a championship, but I know that what we’re building for 2022 is really exciting and there’s no doubt we have the championship in our sights.”

Meanwhile, West Coast Fever joined the signings party, announcing the return of stars Jhaniele Fowler and Courtney Bruce, with the latter looking to lead her side into a long-awaited maiden premiership.

“I’m so happy to be back with the club for two more years, there’s nowhere I’d rather be,” Bruce said. “I’m excited to be entering my 11th year at the club that has helped shape me into the player and person that I am.”

“I’m excited to see where we can go as a club and continue to grow and build towards a premiership.”

SSN signings update: 13/9

 

Picture credit: NSW Swifts

Where does Sophie Garbin fit in 2022?

WITH the 2022 Suncorp Super Netball season free agency period finally underway, it’s time to dive into potential changes around the grounds. Yesterday, Draft Central posed the question of whether Sophie Garbin would leave the NSW Swifts in search for a starting position; with the Swifts announcing yesterday afternoon that the talented goal shooter “has decided to take up a contract elsewhere”. Today, let’s have a look at where Garbin could head for the 2022 season.

READ >>> What player changes could we see amongst SSN clubs?

Firstly, let’s quickly chat about what Garbin offers. The 184cm West Australian talent is an impressive goaler, typically playing in goal shooter and using her excellent footwork to consistently re-offer and find avenues to post. While known for her short range shooting, Garbin is rarely fazed by the contest and is willing to shoot from range if required, with her accuracy knowing no bounds. Garbin has steadily developed her versatility and endurance throughout her four seasons at the Swifts, adding an extra string to her bow to play out in goal attack and have an impact in different ways, often putting the team first to get the win on the board. Her accuracy has continued to grow with further court time while her ability to break games wide open is a testament to her adaptability on the fly and continued work rate. Still only 24-year-old with plenty of development to come, there is no knowing what else Garbin could add to her arsenal with a consistent starting bib in 2022.

Realistically, there is no point Garbin leaving the Swifts if there is not a starting role up for grabs, which puts a couple of sides out of the running – while not yet confirmed, it seems to be general consensus that the likes of Jo Harten or Mwai Kumwenda are unlikely to leave their respective clubs in GIANTS or Melbourne Vixens, although Garbin’s newfound versatility could assist in both front-ends. Ultimately though, the Vixens are in need of a born and bred goal attack while many are expecting at least one of Sophie Dwyer or Kiera Austin to stay with the GIANTS, meaning there is no guarantee Garbin would get the starting spot at either club – unless, of course, one (or both) opts for a fresh start in the goal circle. Like Kumwenda, it is highly unlikely that Queensland Firebirds’ Romelda Aiken will leave the Firebirds for another club after being a permanent fixture for so long, so unless she were to announce her retirement, it is unlikely Garbin would find a home at the Firebirds. With that in mind, Aiken hasn’t quite shown the same influence in 2021 as she used to, and with the side looking to rebuild after a couple of shaky seasons a shake-up in the front-end could be exactly what the doctor ordered.

There are a couple of clubs where Garbin would slot in nicely regardless of the current starters, with the Adelaide Thunderbirds first to come to mind with a chance that Lenize Potgieter does not return for another season with the club. While Potgieter is an undoubtable threat, she is at her most threatening under the post and can sometimes go missing throughout matches. A goal circle combination of Garbin and Georgie Horjus would send pulses sky rocketing with both players’ adaptability, with Garbin able to play both a moving role and a holding role making for an intriguing change-up with the side.

The second club to come to mind is the Collingwood Magpies, with Garbin potentially needing to settle for a goal attack start, but the potential to work with the likes of Shimona Nelsonalso unlikely to leave her current club given her connection with current coach Nicole Richardson – too good to pass up. While Gabby Sinclair has proved capable of that starting role at the Magpies, Garbin could offer a little bit extra pizzazz in the front-end, and add that extra layer for the Magpies. While the Magpies had a much better season in 2021, thy still were not really perceived as a threat with the attack just needing something extra to finish the job.

Jhaniele Fowler – and a host of other Jamaican talents – has recently left the country to participate in the upcoming Margaret Beckford Sunshine Series with many wondering whether the towering goal shooter would make a return to the West Coast Fever. As a West Australian born and raised, Garbin would fill that hole seamlessly at the Fever if Fowler did not make a return, but again, this all hinges on whether Fowler is a confirmed signing for the Fever. The same goes for the Sunshine Coast Lightning, but again, it is unlikely the club will bid farewell to either of its Australian Diamonds in Cara Koenen or Steph Wood. With no guarantee of a starting role, it would be difficult to lure Garbin away from her connections at the Swifts.

Where do you think Sophie Garbin will head in 2021? Join our Netball Draft Central group to discuss.

 

Picture credit: AAP Image/James Ross

2021 SSN signings update: 13/9

IT was a quiet weekend in Suncorp Super Netball land over the weekend, with a real calm before the storm feel ahead of the official free agency period opening today. With only re-signings allowed to be confirmed across the eight squads last week, expect the signings to come thick and fast now despite just a couple of list changes to speak of across the weekend.

The first big change will see Sam Poolman head into retirement with her head held high, ultimately playing one of her best seasons for GIANTS Netball this year before confirming she would step away from the sport yesterday. The tenacious goal keeper was known for her niggling style of play and continuous bodywork to keep her opposition away from easy passes, with her preliminary final performance against Jhaniele Fowler showcasing that in spades. Part of the inaugural GIANTS side in 2017, Poolman has been a stalwart in the GIANTS squad, and said she knew that the timing was right to bid the elite sport farewell.

“I was always told that you would know when it’s time and for me the timing is right,” Poolman said. “I’m so proud of my career – from an aspiring netballer of the Hunter Region that dreamed of playing one year in the elite level to 10 years later.

“The GIANTS has been a really special place for me, with plenty of special games that come to mind alongside some superstar players and friends,” she said. “I have loved contributing to the club and am proud to be a GIANT for life.

“I am excited for what l can achieve in the 10 next years and to make up for all the time lost with my family and friends. They are the ones who have been there for me all these years and l can now be there for them.

“To start and finish my career in a grand final, play 100 elite games and finish performing well is certainly something I’m proud of.”

Intriguingly, this announcement leaves the GIANTS without two of their premiership defenders, with goal defence Kristiana Manu’a heading across the ditch to play in the ANZ Premiership with Central Pulse.

Heading down to Victoria, it was Melbourne Vixens making the call on Kaylia Stanton with the experienced goaler departing the club after one season. With 12 games in her pocket and a Player of the Match award to show for it, the Vixens were clear that decisions will be made to ensure the club gets back to its premiership potential after collecting the wooden spoon in 2021.

“Kaylia has been a great asset for the team this year, on and off the court, and we thank her for her contribution,” said General Manager – Vixens, Performance and Pathways, Rebekah Webster. “With the contracting window for 2022 now open, we are currently making decisions and plans that will put the Vixens in the best position for championship contention.”

Meanwhile, Sophie Garbin has bid farewell to the NSW Swifts, with no details yet on where she is heading but the club confirming that she “has decided to take up a contract elsewhere” for season 2022. The smooth-moving goaler experienced two premierships with the Swifts throughout her four years at the club, after debuting in Round 1, 2018.

“It has been an honour to play for a club as prestigious and successful as the Swifts and I will be forever grateful for the experiences and opportunities I’ve had since joining four years ago,” Garbin said. “I have made many friends for life and a part of me will always be with this club.”

“A lot of players don’t get the chance to win a Premiership and I’ve been lucky enough to win two in my time at the Swifts. That wouldn’t have been possible without the support of my Swifts teammates, coaches, club staff and members and fans; all of whom I will be eternally thankful for.

“The decision to leave has been one of the hardest I’ve ever had to make but I would like to thank everyone at the club, its supporters and Netball NSW for an amazing four years.”

Meanwhile, Melbourne Vixens confirmed its first official signing for the season was captain Kate Moloney, keeping fans in the dark – and in silence – for almost 10 minutes on Facebook Live on Monday night before making the announcement.

Picture credit: NSW Swifts