Category: West Coast Fever

Opinion: Which teams in the SSN will benefit from the Super Shot?

IN light of the introduction of the Suncorp Super Netball “Super Shot” Draft Central casts an eye over which team will benefit from the new rule and which teams may struggle. The Super Shot allows goalers in the last five minutes of each quarter to earn double the points if they can sink them from beyond the designated 3 metre arc. 

Adelaide Thunderbirds:

The new attacking end will have their work cut out for them this season boasting a very different line-up to last year. Headlined by Lenize Potgieter the Thunderbirds will be relying on the South African shooting sensation to lead the way under the post. The Tbirds could be disadvantaged with the new rule given Potgieter, Samantha Gooden and Charlee Hodges do most of their damage from close to the post. However the possible return of Sasha Glasgow could provide some relief with the goal shooter confident from range. The Thunderbirds would be wishing that the Super Shot rule was introduced last year with the now retired, long bomb specialist Maria Folau at their disposal. 

Collingwood Magpies:

Relying heavily on Shimona Nelson under the post the Magpies may have a difficult 2020 season given the close range in which the goal shooter does her damage. Nelson came along in leaps and bounds in season 2019 and will be looking to elevate her game once again this season and will more than likely be the spearhead for the Magpies attack end. Newbie Julia Woolley has proven at Victoria Netball League (VNL) level that she can shoot from anywhere and could be a key prospect for the Magpies when it comes to the Super Shot. Although more comfortable on the mid-range shot, Woolley can shoot from the perimeter while Gabby Sinclair is also another possibility to wreak havoc in the final five minutes of the quarter. 

GIANTS Netball:

It will be a good combination of long bomb and close range shooting with the two GIANTS goalers possessing very different styles. Although both renowned for their holding style of play, England Roses goaler Jo Harten is accustomed to the long bomb, able to rock back on the shot and score. Able to shoot from both under the post and perimeter it will be up to Harten to deliver from further out in the final five minutes of the quarter to try and give the GIANTS that competitive edge. While Caitlin Bassett is dominant under the post, able to put up a wealth of shots she does not venture far out from her comfort zone meaning the Super Shot scoring will lie heavily on Harten and potentially youngster Kiera Austin. Although Austin does not get a wealth of court time in the goal circle she has proven that she can come on and have an impact with her ability to back herself from mid-range. 

Melbourne Vixens:

Renowned for their long bomb shooting thanks to the likes of Caitlin Thwaites and Tegan Philip the Melbourne Vixens are in good stead with the introduction of the Super Shot. Both goalers have continuously proven that they can shoot from just about anywhere in the circle with their composure and skill on constant display. Thwaites while strong under the post is equally as damaging from close to the perimeter and while Philip is more commonly known for her baseline drives and mid-range shots she is not afraid to back herself from range, making the Vixens a real threat in 2020. Although Malawian goal shooter, Mwai Kumwenda is not known for her long range shooting she can rely on the likes of Thwaites and Philip to steer the ship from distance and can focus on delivering from under the post.  

NSW Swifts:

Another team in a strong position with the new rule is the Swifts with England Roses goal attack Helen Housby a commanding presence close to circle edge. Although more comfortable with her mid-range shooting, Housby can sink them from distance and deliver, potentially making her the go to girl in the latter half of the quarters. Sophie Garbin is another option that can shoot from further out and while it is not her go to shot, her ability to stand up and deliver could make her an interesting prospect for the Swifts in the dying minutes of the quarter. Trinidad and Tobago goal shooter Sam Wallace is renowned for her skill and strength directly under the post but may have to look at broadening her range to suit the SSN rule change. 

Queensland Firebirds:

There is no denying that the Firebirds game plan centres around Romelda Aiken and Gretel Bueta who are both recognised for their close range shooting. Aiken is arguably one of the most formidable goal shooters in the competition with her aerial presence, long splits and high volume of shots. The only downside being the majority of her goals come from directly under the post, placing a wealth of pressure on the Firebirds attack unit to generate more scoring opportunities. Coming from a basketball background Bueta is used to shooting from distance but on the netball court the dynamic goaler opts to edge closer to the post. Although she has proven over time that she can convert from further out many are used to Bueta doing the most damage from a metre or so under the post. The inclusion of Ine-Mari Venter may provide that element of long range shooting that could benefit the Firebirds when it comes to converting on the Super Shot. 

Sunshine Coast Lightning:

After a breakout season last year Cara Koenen will be hoping to go even bigger this season to really leave a mark on the competition. While she is most comfortable under the post and does most of her scoring from there, the Sunshine Coast local can shoot from mid-range, making her a viable option when it comes to the two point shot. However, the Lightning are well placed having the likes of Australian Diamonds goaler Steph Wood who is able to carry the load when it comes to shooting from further out. Wood is no slouch in the goal circle, able to shoot from just about anywhere and use her turn of speed to receive the ball and goal. Rounding out the shooting options for the Lightning is Ugandan goaler Peace Proscovia, while typically known for her holding role under the post, she might have to get on the move more in 2020 to create additional scoring chances.

West Coast Fever:

With Jhaniele Fowler the go-to-girl, West Coast might have to shake-up their game plan for the 2020 season in order to benefit from the Super Shot. The towering goal shooter is prominent under the post able to shoot quickly, accurately and at a high volume. But with most of Fever’s goals coming from within a metre or so of the ring, the Fever might have to look to Alice Teague-Neeld and Kaylia Stanton more often to capitalise on the two point shot. Stanton can shoot from further out  while Teague-Neeld hardly puts up a shot instead proving to be a playmaker in the attacking third with her quick hands and vision into the circle. While accuracy can be an issue for both Stanton and Teague-Neeld at times the new rule could cause a few headaches for the Fever in 2020 with the team in green potentially forced to stray from their usual game play of turn and deliver to Fowler under the post.

Who could lead SSN stats in 2020?

WITH the Suncorp Super Netball set to return in just over a month there is plenty of hype surrounding the season and which team will assert themselves on the competition. Last year the Lightning and Swifts seemed to dominate most areas when it came to statistics, but that did not stop Adelaide Thunderbirds recruit Shamera Sterling from leaving her mark claiming prime position in a couple of crucial stats while West Coast Fever goaler Jhaniele Fowler was also well represented in terms of statistical dominance. Draft Central poses some hypotheticals for the 2020 season, taking into account 2019 form, potential development over the off-season and enforced COVID-19 break.

Defensive rebounds:
Talented goal keeper, Sterling dominated rebounds last year notching up a whopping 35 for the season. Collingwood and England Roses goal keeper Geva Mentor was not far behind with 33, something she will be hoping to build on this season given the young and inexperienced defensive unit behind her heading into 2020. Premiership player Sarah Klau proved to be a force to be reckoned with under the post with her strong positioning and rebounding ability amassing the fourth most with 28 for the season. With Diamonds experience under her belt Klau could be an even bigger threat in the 2020 SSN season. While Emily Mannix did not feature within the top 10 for rebounds last year expect the Melbourne Vixens defender to be around the mark this season, with the defender showcasing a renewed hunger towards the end of last season. 

Goal assists:
It is no surprise that Melbourne Vixens and Australian Diamonds vice-captain Liz Watson took out the number one spot when it comes to goal assists with the wing attack simply unstoppable on circle edge with her pinpoint passes. Watson was quick, precise and accurate, feeding into the circle with a whopping 430 goal assists, 139 more than the next closest in teammate Kate Moloney. The Vixens centre was a key contributor throughout the season and will be around the mark once again in season 2020. The highly anticipated return of Madi Browne could see the speedy midcourter leap into the top five when it comes to goal assists as she will have to lead the attacking end for the Magpies given the wealth of personnel changes. Another possibility to join the top five is Swifts captain Maddy Proud who will hopefully make her return from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury in the early stages of the season. Renowned for her speed, dynamic movement and quick hands she could have a real impact in the Swifts attacking end. 

Centre pass receives:
Pocket rocket Laura Scherian took out the number one spot when it came to centre pass receives in season 2019, with the nippy wing attack able to burst out over the transverse line and get the ball moving. Her speed off the mark and fancy footwork was one of a couple reasons why the Lightning were so successful with Scherian amassing 428 passes while Watson was not far behind with 375. Often flying under the radar when it comes to her work at the transverse line Gretel Bueta was a prominent threat with 325 receives. Her load may lift even further in 2020 with the retirement of Caitlyn Nevins so expect her to enforce herself in the midcourt. Depending on what position Paige Hadley plays she could be another player that appears within the top 10 while Browne is another possibility.

Goals:
Jamaican powerhouse and West Coast Fever go-to girl Jhaniele Fowler was simply unstoppable under the ring last year and will be hoping to replicate that form again this season. Standing at 198cm the goal shooter is a commanding presence and wowed many with her ability to perform week in week out racking up 709 goals. Fresh off a premiership expect Sam Wallace to pick up where she left off last season with the Swifts goal shooter able to slot them from everywhere no matter the pressure. With a potential increased load in the 2020 season due to pregnancies in the Collingwood camp, Shimona Nelson will have to push herself even further. Slotting 637 goals for the season, Nelson’s numbers could rapidly rise as she becomes an even bigger target for the Pies given the inexperienced attack. While Romelda Aiken did not make it into the top five last year, likely due to missing games for injury, the Firebirds goaler is renowned for her ability to score quickly and at a high volume so expect big things from her this season, while increased court time from Cara Koenen could also see the Sunshine Coast product sneak into the top five. 

Deflections:
Sterling took out the top deflections position with an impressive 120 for the year, a clear testament to her read of the play and ability to impact the contest. She was involved in just about everything and with another pre-season under her belt and more accustomed to the high intensity pace of the game will be raring to go heading into the 2020 season. Klau was another one who impressed last year and will be eager to keep the good times rolling if they are any chance to win back-to-back premierships. Surprisingly, powerhouse defender Karla Pretorius did not feature within the top five when it comes to deflections so expect the tenacious South African to be in the mix while Thunderbirds returnee Layla Guscoth is also renowned for her ability to create tips and turnovers. The development of Tara Hinchliffe and Kim Jenner could see the duo feature within the top five this season while GIANTS wing defence Amy Parmenter is also a threat with her lightning quick pace and slickness on court.

Intercepts:
Although she did not feature in the deflections, Pretorius shone when it came to the intercept category with 69 for the season, one more than Sterling. Pretorius was a game changer for the Lightning, able to spring into action and take a huge intercept with her cleanliness and read of the play. After falling short in the grand final expect that fire in the belly to be evident and for Pretorius to once again be amongst the top echelon of players. Mannix was a prominent threat last year with her history breaking 10 intercepts in one game and ability to read the play. Collingwood newcomer Jodi-Ann Ward has proven on the international stage that she knows how to win ball back with her quick footwork and long reaching arms, while Magpies teammate, Mentor could also be in the top five once again given her strength in the air and skill to float into space and pick off passes. After a quieter 2019 season, West Coast Fever captain Courtney Bruce will be chomping at the bit, looking to assert herself and collect more deflections to rise up the leaderboard. 

Suncorp Super Netball introduces two-goal Super Shot

IN a surprising addition to an already compromised season, the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) has today announced it will go ahead with a two-goal Super Shot in the 2020 season. This is the third new rule confirmed for 2020, with rolling substitutions and extra time also implemented ahead of the season start.

According to a statement put out by the Suncorp Super Netball on Tuesday, the two-goal Super Shot will add a new element and remove predictability to the Super Netball competition, with Suncorp Super Netball CEO Chris Symington saying today that “90% of goals scored during Suncorp Super Netball matches were within three metres of the goal post”.

“With the ever-growing competition for the attention of fans, the time is right to introduce an innovation that will make the game even more dynamic and unpredictable.” 

Active in the final five minutes of each quarter, the Super Shot will see teams able to add an extra two goals to their tally from a designated zone within the goal circle. In the instance of tied scores at the end of a match, teams will play five minutes of extra time with the Super Shot active for the entirety of the extra time. Trialled in early March for the Diamonds versus SSN All Stars Bushfire Relief match, the switch-up saw plenty of goalers try their hand at the long shot.

There are plenty of pros and cons to rule changes, though this one seems to be a real contentious decision that much of the netball public does not agree with. In what has been a widely critiqued announcement, many are also wondering why the change has been made now, given the 2020 season has already had to reschedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But what does this mean for the competition as a whole?

Well on one hand, it will bring a new layer to the Super Netball competition which is arguably the greatest in the world. It could be an interesting growth point for netball in Australia given the nation’s current mainstay of tall timbers holding space in the goal circle. In the long term, this could be a great boost to the Australian pathways in providing more versatility inside the circle and growing players to adapt. It also adds another dimension and theatrics to the game, meaning teams can adapt to the match at hand and switch up their attacking style. 

However, what needs to be taken into consideration is the impact this could then have on Australia’s future in international competitions, with the domestic competition moving further and further away from the sport as seasons go on. To add another layer, this ruling will only come into fruition in the Super Netball competition and none of its feeders, though the Australian Netball League (ANL) will not go ahead in 2020.

It has also now been confirmed on social media that clubs and players were seemingly not alerted of the change, with Melbourne Vixens stating on Twitter that “Vixens coaches and players have been left shocked with only 6 weeks until R1.”

Are you excited to see the Super Shot implemented in the Suncorp Super Netball?
Yes
No
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Who will step up for the Fever in 2020?

AFTER  a disappointing 2019 season the West Coast Fever will be keen to get back on the winners list in the Suncorp Super Netball in 2020. With an unchanged line-up to last year the Fever have some a-class players that can stand up to the challenge and more importantly will be hoping to prove their worth. Courtney Bruce and Jhaniele Fowler are arguably the two most dominant figures on the court for the Fever, with the towering bookends renowned for their ability to control the game and create something out of nothing. But it will be up to the next tier of players to step up to the mark this season to generate some more wins and put out more consistent performances.

Jess Anstiss:
Winning the Young Star Award in 2018 along with a club MVP in 2017 there is no denying that Anstiss has the capacity to take the next step up this season. She is a classy player that can find the ball with ease whether it be in wing defence or centre. While she has a more commanding presence in wing defence with her defensive mindset, hands over pressure and ability to create turnovers she is equally as impressive through the centre. She is quick on her feet, able to read the play with ease and can hit the circle edge with ease to deliver the ball into the goalers. After a quiet year last year the talented midcourter will be hoping to emulate her 2018 form and prove that she is a force to be reckoned with and really provide that spark her side is looking for. 

Kaylia Stanton:
Pushed out of her usual position of goal shooter, Stanton is getting more familiar with the goal attack position. Although still adapting to the different style Stanton is a clever ball user and can find Fowler with ease under the post such is her vision and play making ability. The talented goaler is not afraid to go to post, often backing herself from range but just needs to grow in confidence in order to have a more profound impact throughout the game. She has the skillset to kick her game up a level given her silky movement, ball placement, calm temperament and sheer netball nous. Although she can fade in and out of games, more court time and further development will allow the young goaler to take the leap and prove that she is a commanding presence out at goal attack with her strong drives and accuracy to post.

Stacey Francis:
After spending some time out of the Roses side, Francis has rejoined the team and has taken her game to another level, something she will be hoping to continue with the Fever this season. She is a real ball winner with her speed off the mark, quick change of direction and deceptively long arms. Francis is a highly versatile player able to switch from circle defence to wing defence depending on what the team needs. Her physical style often catches shooters off guard but will need to reel it in to ensure she stays in play and can apply defensive pressure throughout the game. With leadership skills and experience to boot it is time for Francis to lead the midcourt and use her drive to bring the ball down court and create attacking forays.

Top 20 players over 30: #6 Jhaniele Fowler

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. Just outside the top five at number six is Jamaican goal shooter Jhaniele Fowler.

Arguably one of the most dominant shooters in recent history, Fowler is a shooting machine that simply produces high quality performances every time she steps out on court. The consistent goaler is hard to stop, able to light up the court with her aerial ability and towering height. Her ability to hold strong and demand the ball under the post is a key feature of her game style and while she does not venture far out of the goal circle, she often draws the attention of two defenders such is her dominance.

A key cog in the West Coast Fever line-up for the past couple of years, Fowler is composed and most importantly accurate to post. She is not often fazed by the physicality of the game and instead thrives on that competitive nature. The Jamaican shooter played a crucial role in Fever’s 2018 grand final assault despite falling short in the big dance. She proved that she was a constant threat to be reckoned with given her deceptively quick footwork and ability to free her arms and reel in any passes that came her way.

Fowler is extremely hard to challenge in the air given her stature and read of the play making it difficult for defenders to try and quell her influence under the post. The soon to be 31-year-old has shown no signs of slowing down and has displayed her skill on an international level as well, taking it up to some of the best in the business. Playing against the likes of teammate and captain Courtney Bruce along with the likes of Geva Mentor and Casey Kopua, Fowler has been able to hold her own and deliver for the Sunshine Girls. She is not often out-bodied in a contest such is her strength on the take. Another key feature of her game is her rebounding, able to gobble up anything that falls short whether it be her shot or a teammate’s attempt.

With a changing of the guard in the goal circle in 2019 for the Fever, Fowler was a real leader in the attacking third, clearly dictating the space and creating options inside the third for the likes of Kaylia Stanton and Alice Teague-Neeld. Her clear and clever positioning also alleviated the pressure on midcourters Verity Charles, Jess Anstiss and Ingrid Colyer which is a testament to her overall netball nous. While not the most versatile goaler to grace the court, Fowler is simply a commanding shooter that can put up a wealth of shots and cause headaches for defenders.

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)
#10 Caitlin Thwaites (Melbourne Vixens/Australia)
#9 Jo Harten (GIANTS Netball/England)

#8 Jane Watson (Mainland Tactix/New Zealand)
#7 Caitlin Bassett (GIANTS Netball/Australia)
#6 Jhaniele Fowler (West Coast Fever/Jamaica)

Who will improve the most in 2020?

WITH Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) set to commence on August 1, we take a look at a couple of teams that might rise up the ladder this season after struggling in 2019. The delayed start to the season has gifted some clubs with valuable time when it comes to potentially regaining injured stars and working on connections with new recruits.

Queensland Firebirds:

Unfortunately, last year was not the Firebirds’ year, struggling to win games and play their normal game flamboyant game style, but hopefully 2020 will be a different story. With the likes of dynamic midcourter Lara Dunkley joining the ranks and Spar Proteas goaler Ine-Mari Venter also in the fold, Queensland have more versatility in the squad, giving them more options when things don’t go to plan on court. The Firebirds have a core group of a-list players such as captain Gabi Simpson in wing defence while powerhouse shooting duo Romelda Aiken and Gretel Bueta headline the attacking third. But it is the combinations around them that many can expect to flourish this season with the likes of defensive partners Kim Jenner and Tara Hinchliffe. The young defenders have come along in leaps and bounds already and entering their third season together, could be what sees them win more games. They are strong in the air and apply a wealth of defensive pressure both over the shot and in the third itself, often out hunting for ball. If they can maintain a high level of intensity throughout the matches and stimulate some drive out of defence it will go a long way in pushing the Firebirds to further success this season.

West Coast Fever:

After the highs of 2018, the Fever’s 2019 campaign was a little disappointing, unable to replicate that same intensity and strangle-hold over other teams in the competition. The loss of Nat Medhurst was substantial but with the likes of Kaylia Stanton and Alice Teague-Neeld in the mix for a second season, the Fever will be hoping to find a spark. While Stanton is known more for her goal shooter tendencies her ability to rotate into goal attack was solid, but at times lacked that play-making ability. On the other hand, Teague-Neeld struggled to find consistency in her game play and put up shots ultimately putting pressure on the Fever frontend. While there is no denying that Jhaniele Fowler is the go-to-girl, West Coast will be hoping to have ironed out their attacking issues and come back stronger than ever this season. With extra time to work on their connections in the goal circle the varying styles could be beneficial to the Fever and give them that edge to recapture their dominance.

Adelaide Thunderbirds:

After showing some promise early last season the Thunderbirds were hit with injuries that slightly derailed their season, but will be looking to build on their foundations in 2020. Experienced Roses defender, Layla Guscoth missed the second half of the season but given the extended break could make a comeback this season and have an impact. Her experience down back, pressure over the shot and tagging style of play will pay dividends and add that extra layer of class to the T’birds defensive unit. Her connection with Shamera Sterling, Kate Shimmin and Shadine van der Merwe could cause headaches for opposition attackers. While shooting sensation, Sasha Glasgow sustained an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury late last season, the recruitment of Lenize Potgieter will hopefully fill that hole. The South African goaler is accurate to post, quick on her feet and can hold her own in the goal circle but if Glasgow was to return she could offer another option under the post whether it be goal attack or goal shooter. With more time to develop their connections both in defence and through the midcourt the Thunderbirds will be hoping to use that defensive pressure to bring the ball down court and create attacking forays.

Suncorp Super Netball returns to court on August 1

AUSTRALIA’S top netball competition returns August 1.

In a massive announcement by the Suncorp Super Netball today, fans of the world’s top ranked league will have to wait just two months until they see their favourite stars out on court again. The other two major leagues in the world – the ANZ Premiership and Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) – had both made decisions on their returns in the past two weeks. While the VNSL opted to cancel the season citing concerns around the COVID-19 pandemic, the ANZ Premiership will return on Friday, June 19.

The 2020 Suncorp Super Netball season will be a full 60-game season – which means 14 rounds where teams face off against the other seven teams twice – as well as the four-game finals series for the top four sides. The fixture is yet to be announced, but the timing of the announcement today – May 31 – is for clubs to train together from tomorrow – June 1 – whilst sticking to social distancing guidelines.

Suncorp Super Netball CEO Chris Symington said in the release on the Suncorp Super Netball website that the season start represents a significant step forward on the road to getting back on court.

“We’re thrilled that a season start date has been locked away, now all our stakeholders have a date to work towards and fans can start to get excited for the start of the season,” he said. “We are planning to play out a full home and away season, and we are confident that our start date gives us the best opportunity to achieve that.

“Our guiding principles throughout this process have never changed, those being the health and wellbeing of the community alongside the financial viability of our sport. “There has been a collective commitment to those principles from the whole system including players, teams, partners and broadcasters and we will continue to take that approach as we look to get our season underway.

“I would like to thank our dedicated members and fans who have stuck by their teams and the sport through an incredibly challenging period. We look forward to showcasing our world class athletes once again from August 1.”

For full player profiles on each Suncorp Super Netball team, check out our team pages:

Adelaide Thunderbirds | Collingwood Magpies | GIANTS Netball | Melbourne Vixens | NSW Swifts | Queensland Firebirds | Sunshine Coast Lightning | West Coast Fever


Furthermore, the 2020 Constellation Cup between the Australian Diamonds and New Zealand Silver Ferns will take place later this year, whilst the 2020 Quad Series that was meant to take place between the world’s top two nations, as well as England and South Africa, has been cancelled due to the impact of COVID-19 on international travel.

Top 20 players over 30: #20 Stacey Francis

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. Kickstarting the countdown at number 20 is West Coast Fever and England Roses defender, Stacey Francis.

Francis has been a staple hold in the Fever defence line-up since their inception with her aerial ability and physicality a couple of her characteristics. She is not afraid to use her body work to get under the skin of her opponents and while she is not the tallest defender it is her speed and skill to read the play that makes her one to watch. The 32-year-old is electric on her feet able to cover the court with ease and can rotate through the defensive positions with ease. While goal defence is her preferred position, Francis has shown that she is more than capable of playing her role in wing defence with her nagging style of defence and nous to block her opposition’s space and vision.

She has shown no signs of slowing down leaving her mark in the England Roses team with her constant hands over pressure and desperation to have a flying shot at anything that goes past her. Francis is light on her feet able to burst out of the blocks and gobble up the cross-court ball. Standing at 180cm Francis uses every inch of her height to cause turnovers and create tips across the court while her tenacity to chase down the loose ball also makes her an integral member in any side.

Her combination with Fever teammate and Australian goal keeper Courtney Bruce is highly impressive, with the two able to rotate through the space and cause confusion with their high intensity and general netball smarts. Her connection with fellow West Coast teammates such as Shannon Eagland and Olivia Lewis is also strong with the defender using her experience to dictate space and create a calming presence down back. She is agile but most importantly is strong, not often out-bodied by opponents especially around circle edge Francis can have a profound impact in disrupting the attacking flow and creating issues for opposition teams trying to push forward. Francis uses her balance and quick footwork to dance around her opponent and while she is towards the twilight of her career has shown that she still has a few tricks up her sleeve.

TOP 20 PLAYERS OVER 30:

#20 Stacey Francis (West Coast Fever/England)

Compare the Pair: Liz Ellis and Courtney Bruce

THE next instalment in the Draft Central Compare the Pair series will aim to analyse two fan favourites from different Australian Diamonds eras, with the next showcasing Australian goal keepers, Liz Ellis and Courtney Bruce.

With tenacity, constant pressure and an ability to do the impossible, Ellis and Bruce are two threats on the international stage with plenty of hunt for the ball and creativity to get it. Their respective excitement-generating play has helped turn the tides of their teams over and over, while their anticipation to leap for the intercept or make that game-changing deflection has them both as household names for netball fans. While the two players have entirely different game styles, it’s their respective commitment to the game at hand that sets them apart, able to adjust depending on their opposition to continue to maintain control game after game.

Ellis is one of the best defenders the world has seen, and as a constant threatening force to be reckoned with in defence there is no surprise why that is. Her read of the play was impeccable while her rotation in the circle to drop back or go on the hunt is testament to her trust in her teammates to fall back and form a wall in defence. Her speed to turn over the ball was crucial for the Diamonds while her captaincy proved her strength on court as not just a player but leader as the most capped player in Australian netball history.

The ex-captain was a force to be reckoned with, always ready to take possession with her impressive closing speed and reach over the netball. Her ability to anticipate patterns and turn the game on its head allowed her to make the game her own, and with three world titles and two Commonwealth Games gold just at international level – not counting domestic achievements – Ellis will go down in history as one of the greatest players of all time.  

Courtney Bruce may not have the same number of caps but has well and truly proved herself in recent years with the Diamonds, forming a critical pairing with Jo Weston on the international stage where she can play that exciting intercepting role. With pressure and constant intensity to match, Bruce’s ability to anticipate the ball speeding down the court is crucial and paired with her speed off the mark she can create that defensive breathing room to propel the ball back up the court.

While Bruce does not have the Diamonds captaincy, her consistency and ability to turn over the ball sees her lead the West Coast Fever. Still only 26-years-old, Bruce has plenty left in the tank with her creativity sure to spark many a turnover for the Diamonds in the coming years. While her past year has been plagued by injury, Bruce will intend to be right as rain for the next year of international competition.

Liz Ellis
122 caps, 1993-2007

Courtney Bruce
33 caps*, 2017-present

Which goal keeper would you pick in their prime?
Liz Ellis
Courtney Bruce
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Netball fantasy teams: West Coast Fever All-Stars v. Adelaide Thunderbirds All-Stars

THE West Coast Fever and Adelaide Thunderbirds have a highly decorated history with both clubs boasting a long line of a-class players since their inception. Draft Central has comprised two All-Star teams filled with past and present players.

West Coast Fever:

GK: Courtney Bruce
GD: Eboni Usoro-Brown
WD: Ash Brazill
C: Shae Brown
WA: Madi Browne
GA: Nat Medhurst
GS: Caitlin Bassett

BENCH: Jhaniele Fowler, Stacey Marinkovich, Ama Agbeze

Although they have not tasted a lot of success throughout their time in both the ANZ Championship and Suncorp Super Netball, the West Coast Fever has been home to a wealth of highly talented netballers both from an Australian and international perspective. When it comes to the goal circle the Fever have been littered with stars none bigger than Australian Diamonds captain, Caitlin Bassett. The towering goal shooter really made a name for herself under the post for the Fever with her strong holds, lanky arms and volume. Her connection with teammate and fellow former Diamond Nat Medhurst was near on unstoppable. Medhurst was the real playmaker inside the attacking third with her impressive balance, vision and ability to think two steps ahead of her opponents. While she did not put up a high amount of goals it was her off the ball work that made her such a damaging player.

Moving into wing attack is Madi Browne. The speedy centre court player oozes strength and excellent ball handling skills to deliver the ball with precision to the goalers. Shae Brown was a key contributor for the Fever, spending almost ten years at the club using her energiser bunny speed to dart around the court and cause havoc. The centre proved that she could run all day and was not afraid to put in the hard yards taking the strong drive to the top of the goal circle. It is no surprise that wing defence come centre Ash Brazill gets the start in the All-Star Fever team given her sheer athleticism, speed off the mark and ability to make something out of nothing. Brazill quickly developed into one of the most influential players with her defensive pressure constantly on show and desperation to attack the ball.

Down in defence is England Roses goal defence Eboni Usoro-Brown who is renowned for her body on body pressure, physicality under the post and ability to pick off intercepts. She is light on her feet and uses her long arms to cause confusion for the feeders looking into the circle. Current captain and Diamonds keeper, Courtney Bruce takes out the goal keeper position thanks to her tenacity and impressive leap. She does not take a backwards step on the court, consistently looking to take on the physical tussle and use her quick footwork to get around the body of her opponents and force tips and turnovers.

Rounding out the team is Jamaican shooting powerhouse Jhaniele Fowler along with former England Roses captain Ama Agbeze, while coach and former midcourter Stacey Marinkovich also earned herself a spot on the All-Star team.

Adelaide Thunderbirds:

GK: Sharni Layton
GD: Mo’onia Gerrard
WD: Renae Ingles
C: Natalie Bode (nee von Bertouch)
WA: Chelsea Pitman
GA: Erin Bell
GS: Maria Folau

BENCH: Carla Borrego, Maddy Proud, Rebecca Bulley

Over the years the Adelaide Thunderbirds have added to their trophy cabinet and experienced their fair share of success. With that success has come some highly talented players filtering through the club such as former Australian goal keeper Sharni Layton. She was one of the most dynamic and physical defenders in the game, renowned for her constant niggle and innate ability to go screaming out for an intercept. Her constant movement, hands over pressure and sheer pressure was a focal point of her game much like her defensive counterpart Mo’onia Gerrard. The goal defence was strong both in the air and at ground level, hustling for every ball that came her way and not giving her opponent an inch. Gerrard used her speed off the mark to force turnovers and apply pressure.

In at wing defence is none other than Renae Ingles. Arguably one of the most profound and impactful wing defences in the competition Ingles was the heart and soul of the Thunderbirds for many years, thanks to her on-court leadership and netball nous. Her go-get it attitude, long reaching arms and innate ability to sense the moment and make something special happen was second to none. Another former captain in Natalie Bode takes out the centre position with the dynamic midcourter able to run all day and ply her trade across the court. Her precision ball placement, strength around the goal circle and impressive vision made her hard to stop when on song. While in wing attack is England Roses and current Thunderbirds co-captain Chelsea Pitman. She is a smooth mover, that boasts plenty of class with ball in hand and a high level of execution.

The goal circle is full of long bomb specialists with yet another former T’birds captain and Australian Diamonds shooter, Erin Bell taking out the goal attack position. Her high release sky-scraper shots, silky movement across the court and cool, calm temperament was a key reason to their success. She was not afraid to back herself from range and showcased her spatial awareness every time she was on court. While she only spent one season with the Thunderbirds, Maria Folau had an undeniable impact in the goal circle with the long bomb specialist well and truly living up to her name. Her effortless shooting action and accuracy to post proved to be the key for the Thunderbirds throughout the 2019 season.

On the bench and unlucky not to get a start is defender Rebecca Bulley, renowned for her tagging style of play, while former basketballer Carla Borrego and fan favourite Maddy Proud both also got the call up.

Who would win?

Although the Adelaide Thunderbirds have won more premierships than the West Coast Fever throughout history, it is hard to go past the quality talent on the list. The Fever probably have the upper hand when it comes to goalers with the likes of Fowler, Medhurst and Bassett all at their disposal. Defensively both teams are stacked but the scales tilt towards the Fever given their extra depth.

Who wins this All-Star battle of the West and South?
West Coast Fever
Adelaide Thunderbirds
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