Tag: Adelaide Thunderbirds

2020 SSN: Season preview- Adelaide Thunderbirds

AFTER an extended break due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) season is set to commence on August 1. Draft Central takes a look at each team, starting off with the Adelaide Thunderbirds. 

Coach: Tania Obst
Captain: Layla Guscoth and Chelsea Pitman
2019 finish: 7th 

Breaking their 27 game losing streak in Round 1 against the Fever last year, the Thunderbirds seemed to uncover a new lease on life attacking the ball with intensity. Unfortunately they could not maintain that style of play throughout the season only notching up two more wins. Riddled with injuries, England Roses midcourter Beth Cobden was ruled out early with an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury and co-captain Layla Guscoth missed the second half of the season after rupturing her Achilles. Sasha Glasgow also went down late in the season with an ACL topping off what had been a trying season for the Thunderbirds. They will be keen to put that to bed in 2020 and put their foot down. Adelaide well and truly proved they have the defensive firepower to change the course of the game, something they will be hoping to build on this season to register more wins. 

2020 predictions/expectations:

With the key loss and retirement of long bomb specialist Maria Folau and uncertainty surrounding Glasgow’s return the Thunderbirds shooting end oozes plenty of youth and inexperience when it comes to connections. Welcoming quickfire goal shooter and Spar Proteas star Lenize Potgieter the Thunderbirds attack will rely heavily on her to deliver while the likes of Samantha Gooden and Charlee Hodges will also have a challenge on their hands stepping into a new-look side. The midcourt remains relatively unchanged with Chelsea Pitman the key through the attacking third with her clever ball placement, speed on the pass, strong circle edge positioning and vision into the circle. Her output will be key to ensuring the goalers get good access. Defensively Adelaide are littered with ball winners, none bigger than Shamera Sterling. The Jamaican goal keeper took the competition by storm last year, using her long arms, speed off the mark and pressure over the shot to win ball back and cause havoc. The versatility of Kate Shimmin also worked wonders for the Thunderbirds while Shadine van der Merwe also slotted into the team seamlessly with her hands over pressure and strength to swing into circle defence or wing defence. The return of Guscoth will also be huge for the Thunderbirds with the England Roses representative able to have an impact with her calming nature, skill to win ball back and tagging style of play. 

Key player to watch:

New to the Thunderbirds this season, Potgieter is a real playmaker and staple hold under the post for any team. She is quick on her feet, able to change up the angles in an instant and more importantly score quickly and accurately. Having played with the Steel in the ANZ Premiership last season and spending time with the Queensland Firebirds midseason the Proteas goal shooter is well aware of what it takes to perform at SSN level. She is unfazed by the physical nature of the game, instead relying on her strong holds, baseline drives and range to do all the talking. She is an exciting prospect for the Thunderbirds this season given it will be her first full SSN season and has proven time and time again on the international stage that she is a true competitor, able to read the play and command the ball. 

Team list:

Sasha Glasgow
Samantha Gooden
Layla Guscoth
Charlee Hodges
Maisie Nankivell
Hannah Petty
Chelsea Pitman
Lenize Potgieter
Kate Shimmin
Shamera Sterling
Shadine van der Merwe

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 15 SSN training partners: #1 Emma Ryde

WITH a number of netball leagues across the world being suspended due to COVID-19, the Draft Central team is making a case for the top 15 training partners stepping up to the Suncorp Super Netball plate in 2020. This countdown is purely opinion-based, taking into consideration recent form, individual potential and future development. Coming in at number one is none other than Collingwood Magpies goaler Emma Ryde, a dominant performer who has been unlucky to not receive a consistent contract at Suncorp Super Netball level.

Named the 2019 Australian Netball League (ANL) MVP, Ryde was crucial in the Victorian Fury outfit as a holding goaler, able to use her body cleanly to attract the defender and use the space to get hands to ball. With clean hands, accuracy and height to match, there is no denying the impact Ryde has when she takes the court. The 22-year-old made a fantastic return to netball in 2019 after taking time off for injury, using her netball smarts to take her game to a new level and ultimately playing at each level last year. At 197cm, Ryde can be a real target at the post with her ability to take on the contest, and with a strong work ethic and tactical mindset she can be a threat taking on any opposition. 

Coming up through the Victorian netball pathways, Ryde was snatched up by the Adelaide Thunderbirds as an injury replacement player in 2019, picking up a few domestic caps along the way although injury cut her time short. Playing four matches for the ailing Thunderbirds, Ryde shot 66 goals at 93 per cent accuracy, well and truly making herself known to the league as a handy option who can jump on court and have an impact. Ryde has also trained and played with Melbourne Vixens in the past, gaining valuable experience and court time and making for an impressive resume despite not taking the court consistently in the Super Netball.

Season 2020 sees Ryde join forces with Collingwood Magpies as a training partner, returning to Victoria once more and with the opportunity to learn from crafty veteran Nat Medhurst and Jamaican young gun Shimona Nelson, among a smattering of young Magpies stars coming up through the pathways. Still young and with plenty of potential, Ryde has plenty left in the tank and will hope to prove herself on the Super Netball stage once more in 2020.

Read our 2019 feature with Emma Ryde here.


#15 Ashlee Unie (Sunshine Coast Lightning)
#14 Ruby Barkmeyer (Melbourne Vixens)
#13 Tippah Dwan (Queensland Firebirds)
#12 Matisse Letherbarrow (GIANTS Netball)
#11 Chelsea Blackman (Adelaide Thunderbirds)
#10 Sunday Aryang (West Coast Fever)
#9 Latika Tombs (GIANTS Netball)
#8 Sharni Lambden (Collingwood Magpies)
#7 Jacqui Newton (Melbourne Vixens)
#6 Allie Smith (Melbourne Vixens)
#5 Elle Bennetts (GIANTS Netball)
#4 Brooke Allan (Magpies Netball)
#3 Tayla Fraser (NSW Swifts)
#2 Beth Cobden (Adelaide Thunderbirds)
#1 Emma Ryde (Collingwood Magpies)

Top 15 SSN training partners: #2 Beth Cobden

WITH a number of netball leagues across the world being suspended due to COVID-19, the Draft Central team is making a case for the top 15 training partners stepping up to the Suncorp Super Netball plate in 2020. Coming in at number two is injured Adelaide Thunderbirds and England Roses midcourter, Beth Cobden. This countdown is purely opinion-based, taking into consideration recent form, individual potential and future development.

While a somewhat contentious and questionable player to not make the top of the list given she has international caps with the Roses, Cobden is only a training partner while she is currently down and out of the squad with an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury, the likelihood of her making the cut earlier in the Super Netball season is questionable because she is still going through rehabilitation. However, the aim with Cobden being a training partner is to enable her to work back up to match fitness through the Australian Netball League (ANL), which could see her return to the fray at some point during the season. 

A highly talented defensive midcourter, Cobden’s speed and agility allows her to impact both on and off the ball, using her lithe frame and tactical mindset to create plays down the court. With plenty of experience behind her, the 27-year-old midcourter can dominate by shutting down her attacker, not always playing the obvious game by intercepting and deflecting but instead using her body work to block easy drives.

With plenty of versatility to rotate through the midcourt, Cobden is just about a shoe-in to make it onto the Super Netball stage once more in 2020 if a position opens up, able to have an impact in any midcourt position thanks to her clever read of the play and ability to transition between attacking and defensive mindsets.

Thanks to solid Roses partnerships across the court – namely Chelsea Pitman through the midcourt and Layla Guscoth and Kate Shimmin in defence – not to mention Cobden played and trained with the Thunderbirds before she went down to injury last year, Cobden will well and truly slot right into the side if she is required.


#15 Ashlee Unie (Sunshine Coast Lightning)
#14 Ruby Barkmeyer (Melbourne Vixens)
#13 Tippah Dwan (Queensland Firebirds)
#12 Matisse Letherbarrow (GIANTS Netball)
#11 Chelsea Blackman (Adelaide Thunderbirds)
#10 Sunday Aryang (West Coast Fever)
#9 Latika Tombs (GIANTS Netball)
#8 Sharni Lambden (Collingwood Magpies)
#7 Jacqui Newton (Melbourne Vixens)
#6 Allie Smith (Melbourne Vixens)
#5 Elle Bennetts (GIANTS Netball)
#4 Brooke Allan (Magpies Netball)
#3 Tayla Fraser (NSW Swifts)
#2 Beth Cobden (Adelaide Thunderbirds)

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
Created with Poll Maker

Compare the Pair: Layla Guscoth and Kate Shimmin

THE next instalment in the Draft Central Compare the Pair series will aim to analyse two fan favourites from across the netball world, with the next showcasing England Roses, Layla Guscoth and Kate Shimmin.

Two vastly different players with different playing styles and backgrounds, Guscoth and Shimmin have plenty of experience on court together. While Guscoth has been a prominent Roses player, Shimmin has only really played domestically in Australia prior to her selection. Guscoth plays a primarily wear-down role while Shimmin uses her footwork to expose her opposition. The pair do have one major thing in common – their wingspan and ability to deflect and gather crucial loose ball.

Both 28-years-old and consistent to a tee, the defensive pair have plenty left in the tank in the coming years. The pair typically share the defensive bibs for the Adelaide Thunderbirds in the Suncorp Super Netball alongside fellow defender Shamera Sterling, though Guscoth’s 2019 Achilles injury threw a spanner in the works throughout the latter stages of the season.

Layla Guscoth

Guscoth may not have many international caps to her name – just the 26 thanks to injury and time away from the sport – but she is one of the most reliable players in the Roses camp thanks to her cool, calm and collected approach to the game.

Her ability to find the ball is second to none, and her versatility is superb. Guscoth’s ability to rotate through goal defence, wing defence and goal keeper is testament to her work ethic. Her lean over the shot is impeccable with balance and long limbs to boot. She forces errors from her opposition to cleanly collect the ball under the post, and runs out for that unexpected intercept to propel the ball back up the court. Her tenacity, strength and drive is crucial for any team. Her cleanliness proves that defenders do not need to be on top of their players to get the job done.

Kate Shimmin

With dual-citizenship and targeted by current England Roses coach, Jess Thirby in 2019, South Australia born Shimmin has finally had an opportunity to collect some international caps and put her extraordinary aerial leap and defensive capabilities to the test for the Roses.

Her anticipation of the ball coming down the court is a crucial part of her game. Shimmin’s quick feet allow her to out-run opposition, and turn something into nothing at the drop of a hat. Her cleanliness to deflect the ball in the air is credit to her timing. Shimmin’s vertical leap and ability to evade her opposition on the landing allows her to defy her goaler an attempt. With an ability to play out in wing defence and goal defence as well as her preferred goal keeper, Shimmin is a real talent with plenty of experience playing against high calibre opposition.

Layla Guscoth
26 caps, 2012-present

Kate Shimmin
5 caps, 2019-present

Which Rose would you take up the defensive end?
Layla Guscoth
Kate Shimmin
Created with QuizMaker

Top 10 players we’d like to see in the SSN: #3 – Jade Clarke

THE Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) is already home to a number of international stars making it one of the strongest netball competitions in the world. However, we as the Draft Central team are creating a list of top 10 players we would like to see join the competition. Coming in at number three is England Roses midcourter Jade Clarke.

While Clarke already briefly played in Australia throughout her career with both the NSW Swifts and during the inaugural Super Netball with Adelaide Thunderbirds as a replacement for Renae Ingles during 2016-17, she has proved time and time again over the years that despite being 36-years-old she still has plenty left in the tank. The defensive midcourter has been a crucial member for every team she has played in, with class, cleanliness and defensive pressure to boot. Her speed off the mark and ability to find circle edge allows her to be that handy versatile option in centre, while her hands over pressure and wingspan allow her to deflect plenty of crucial ball and stop teams in their tracks. 

Clarke’s vision on and off the ball is a real testament to her experience and consistency, able to find the ball in a split second and use her quick footwork to evade her opposition to make a clean intercept. Clarke is a critical member of Wasps Netball in the Vitality Netball Superleague and shows no signs of slowing, applying plenty of pressure on her opposition and denying easy takes at the centre pass. With experience already in the Australian competition, Clarke is one of those names who could easily slot into any available team if required. Clarke has plenty of Roses teammates in the Super Netball already which could ultimately be seen as a bonus for the veteran, though the real question would be whether clubs choose to go international or blood up some younger players if the 2020 Super Netball season goes ahead.

Top 10 players we’d like to see in the SSN:

#10 Joice Takaidza (Zimbabwe)
#9 Zanele Vimbela (South Africa)
#8 Joyce Mvula (Malawi)
#7 Razia Quashie (England)
#6 George Fisher (England)
#5 Fran Williams (England)
#4 Maia Wilson (New Zealand)
#3 Jade Clarke (England)

SSN potential 2020 line-ups: Adelaide Thunderbirds

WITH so much uncertainty surrounding the 2020 Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) season due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a host of international players returning home as a result of the outbreak it sparks questions about how this season will look and which players will actually take the court. We take a look at how each side in the SSN might line up in 2020 if the season does commence with the Thunderbirds the first cab off the rank.

The key signing of Lenize Potgieter will have a huge impact on the Thunderbirds line-up in 2020 with the goal shooter renowned for her accuracy, high volume, smooth movement in the circle and unique shooting action. Potgieter was arguably one of the biggest acquisitions at the end of last year with long bomb specialist Maria Folau departing the club and young gun Sasha Glasgow succumbing to an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. But with the season pushed until late June the return of Glasgow could be on the tables. The talented goaler proved that she could score from anywhere and was not fazed by the physical nature of the game, using her fancy footwork and strong holds despite her short stature to full effect. Newbie Samantha Gooden could also be a likely starter if the season goes ahead with the former Collingwood training partner able to have an impact with her movement across the court and high netball understanding. Gooden could add that sense of experience in the circle along with her ability to find space and exploit it to create attacking forays.

The likes of veteran of Chelsea Pitman will lead the midcourt and more than likely the attacking third given her innate ability to create space and thread the needle with her well-timed and highly executed passes. She is a crafty player that works hard to feed into the circle and provide easy avenues to goal, pair that with her strength around the circle and Pitman is arguably one of the most important links in the Thunderbirds line-up. Still developing her craft in centre is Hannah Petty. The 22-year-old works hard in transition plying her trade in both defence and offence to be a constant option. Petty is more attacking minded able to create space with ease and hit the circle edge with precision.  Rounding out the midcourt is South African Shadine van der Merwe, with the wing defence able to also slide into goal defence if needed. Van der Merwe is a bit of an unknown quantity but has shown time and time again that if the ball is there for the taking she will throw her body on the line. She is quick on her feet able to cover the court with ease and apply strong hands over pressure to help out her fellow defenders.

Defensively the Thunderbirds are set, with excitement machine Shamera Sterling expected to pull on the goal keeper bib once again. She took the competition by storm last year with her impressive aerial ability, constant pressure and defensive skill to gobble up any ball that came her way. Her tenacity and hunt for the ball is unquestionable and while she can be costly at times when it comes to penalties her ability to make up for her mistakes is what makes her such an integral member in the Thunderbirds line-up. Moving out to goal defence is partner-in-crime, Layla Guscoth. Her season ended abruptly after suffering an Achilles injury during the World Cup last year unable to see out the year with the Thunderbirds and leaving somewhat of a hole down back. Guscoth oozes class and patience, while she is not the flashiest player her ability to nullify the influence of her opponent with her tagging style of defence gives her that X-factor.

GK: Shamera Sterling
GD: Layla Guscoth
WD: Shadine van de Merwe
C: Hannah Petty
WA: Chelsea Pitman
GA: Sasha Glasgow
GS: Lenize Potgieter

Suncorp Super Netball: 2019 Awards season wrap

WITH both the Suncorp Super Netball officially over and award season done and dusted we look at which players took out the Most Valuable Player award at each club and their 2019 season.

Adelaide Thunderbirds: Maria Folau

The New Zealand Silver Ferns recruit had a huge influence on the Adelaide Thunderbirds leading from the front with her strong intent, accuracy to post and silky movement across the court. She proved to be a real general in the attack end controlling the flow and ball movement while also setting up plays to keep her side within striking distance. Folau offered plenty of leadership and was composed under pressure finishing the season with 331 goals.

Collingwood Magpies: Geva Mentor

After crossing from Sunshine Coast Lightning, Mentor did not skip a beat with the talented defender putting up a wall in defence and applying her signature pressure. The England Roses international displayed her class to cleanly get around the body of her opponent and force turnovers with her hands over pressure. Her timing and ability to read the play was vital to Collingwood’s success with the defender finishing with 33 rebounds, 86 deflections and 40 intercepts.

GIANTS Netball: Jo Harten

The English international maintained her hot form taking out the GIANTS MVP award after once again plying her trade in goals. Harten was cool, calm and collected carving up the court with her movement, drives and vision to open up the circle. Her ability to switch up her game plan from a holding shooter to a moving goaler is impressive and caused headaches for opposition sides. Harten finished the season with 302 goals from 376 attempts along with 142 assists credit to her ever growing partnership with Caitlin Bassett.

Melbourne Vixens: Emily Mannix

After a relatively quiet start to the season Mannix well and truly hit her straps in the latter half of the year upping the defensive pressure and leading the backend with her attacking mentality. The goal keeper did not take a backwards step throwing herself at every cross court ball and using her lean over the shot to worry her opponents out of going for goal. Mannix racked up 45 intercepts, 61 deflections and 14 rebounds to cap off her stellar season.

NSW Swifts: Sam Wallace

The Trinidad and Tobago goal shooter took her game up a level this season letting her laid back nature do the talking. Wallace was influential under the post for the Swifts oozing composure and class to take the ball in confined spaces and capitalising on her opportunities with 648 goals from 695 attempts. She used her silky footwork to edge closer to the post and stood up in the big matches when called upon.

Sunshine Coast Lightning: Karla Pretorius

In another exceptional season, Pretorius reigned supreme notching up her second Player of the Year credit to her tenacious nature and uncanny ability to win the ball back for her side. The goal defence went about her business using her speed and go-go gadget arms to full advantage picking up 69 intercepts, 72 deflections and 12 rebounds.

West Coast Fever: Jhaniele Fowler

The Jamaican goal shooter was the shining light for West Coast who struggled to live up to the hype of last year. She at times single handily won them games thanks to her commanding presence under the post, accuracy and volume. Fowler used her netball smarts to position well in the circle and win one on one battles with the defenders nailing 709 goals from 753 attempts at a staggering 94 per cent while also picking up 44 rebounds.

Queensland Firebirds: Gretel Tippett

Although it was a disappointing year for the Firebirds, Tippett took complete ownership across the court with her unpredictable nature, attacking flair and explosiveness. Renowned for her unorthodox style, Tippett went to a whole other level in season 2019 taking the lead in the attacking third and highlighting her accuracy to post with 394 goals from 411 attempts at 96 per cent. Her efforts under the post were equally matched by her work up the court notching up a massive 325 centre pass receives along with 130 assists to round out an incredible season.

Emma Ryde Casey Demons 2019

Emma Ryde’s wild journey

IT has been a massive year for goal shooter Emma Ryde, who has found herself returning to netball in 2019 and providing a massive target in the goal circle for every team she has taken the court with. While a relatively well known name in the netball community thanks to her stature in the circle and accuracy to post, Ryde is still only 22 years old and has plenty to prove in her netball career – and though it is still only August, Ryde says it has been a big year after taking a break from high performance leagues with injury in 2018.

“It has definitely been a crazy year. I definitely didn’t think that I would be playing Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) this year at all so that’s been one crazy thing. I was even contemplating whether I was going to play Australian Netball League (ANL). Things have definitely gone not the way I would have thought but it has been a pretty awesome journey and I have enjoyed every minute of it.”

While injury threw a spanner in the works last year, Ryde says taking opportunities in 2019 has been a real focus while also keeping on top of post-match recovery to ensure she can continue her reign in goal shooter.

“Last year I was injured and this year I kind of wanted to maybe focus on the one team and have a really good solid season at Victorian Netball League (VNL) with the Casey Demons … hopefully make a grand final and just focus on that one thing. But I am definitely glad now that I chose to take all of my opportunities,” Ryde said. “I think having all of last year off really put me in – I don’t want to say good stead because it was really crap getting injured – but it really has been kind of a blessing in disguise, you could say.”

“This year I have really focused on getting everything right, like recovery outside of netball. When I need a break I ask for a break, I am trying my best to do all the things outside to help recovery.”

Ryde honed her craft in the Victorian netball pathways as a junior and has continued to do so in 2019. An ANL premiership appearance for Victorian Fury saw Ryde showcase her ability to shoot her team to glory, while also juggling a starting position for Casey Demons in the VNL in its inaugural season – with another grand final appearance against Geelong Cougars last week.

While Casey lost in their inaugural grand final appearance, Fury got a big win on the board, coming from behind against NSW Waratahs.

“I think all the girls were quite nervous but once we got on court we knew what we had to do and got the job done. So it was really exciting and I hadn’t won a grand final in a while so I really, really loved the experience. It was great to be a part of that team together.”

The 1.97m goal shooter has impressed in her comeback to netball in 2019, earning a Most Valuable Player award for her efforts in the ANL and shooting 46 goals from 53 attempts in the grand final alone.

“I obviously didn’t think that I would win the MVP. I think there were some games where I thought I played quite well but there were other games where I was like ‘that was a bit of a shocking game’. I think it helps that I had such an awesome team around me, the girls just kept working and working to get me the ball,” Ryde said.

“It’s credit to the team for getting me the ball but I really enjoyed the season with the girls. I think that, that also made me enjoy playing netball again, so it was a great opportunity to play ANL.”

Among these achievements, Ryde has recently worked her way back into the Suncorp Super Netball as a replacement player, albeit in a non-Victorian team, taking the court for Adelaide Thunderbirds.

“I’m loving every minute of it. I’ve enjoyed the opportunity that I have been given and I think that I have grabbed it with both hands and made the best of the chances that I’ve got,” she said. “The girls have been great, I have been so welcomed into the group and everyone has been really great. Obviously being able to work with Maria Folau – she just has a wealth of knowledge and helped me easily join the team.”

While Ryde is familiar with the level of competition after taking the court with Melbourne Vixens on occasion over the past few years, she said it was good having some familiar faces at the Thunderbirds in her first opportunity interstate, especially with the leap in intensity.

“Each level you go up the intensity just goes up a notch. VNL maybe you train once a week to twice a week. Then you go to ANL and you’re training three times a week and then you go to SSN and you’re training four to five times a week. So they are all quite different in the training loads but the higher you go the intensity is definitely on another level,” Ryde said.

“Tania (Obst, Head Coach of Adelaide Thunderbirds) was my Under 21s coach. It’s been good that I know people there and am not going in by myself. The environment has been really welcoming and I have really enjoyed being with the team.”

Ryde suffered a hyperextension of the knee in Round 13 of SSN against the GIANTS and while 2019 has seen her only come in as a replacement player since the Netball World Cup break, she hopes her efforts this season has helped her chances for making it as a regular next season.

“Hopefully this year I kind of put myself out there again and proved to some people that I’m capable to come up against Australia’s and all around the world’s best defenders. So I’ve got my fingers crossed.”

“I played Collingwood … playing against Geva (Mentor). Geva is just the ultimate competitor and she’s just awesome, I think she is someone who is really hard to play against. It was a good tussle and there was a lot to learn playing against her and playing against anyone. So yeah Geva is quite the defender. I just think her work rate, her ethic, the way she goes about her netball game is just awesome.”

Over the past 18 months Ryde has combined her passion for netball with a matter close to home, taking on an assistant coaching role with the Victorian All Abilities program.

“It’s awesome. I never saw myself much as a coach but I have a sister with a disability and that kind of hits close to home. I got asked last year if I wanted to get involved and I put an application in, I couldn’t resist,” Ryde said.

“Last year I got the opportunity to be the assistant coach and again this year I’ve been given the opportunity and it’s awesome and I love it. All the girls are awesome to be around, they all just want to be there and that’s the main thing, they just want to be there and have fun and get out there and play netball.”

All Abilities netball programs are still growing around Australia, but Ryde says Netball Victoria have been great in trying to elevate the Victorian program to be a more high performance environment.

“I guess that’s what they wanted my input to be in the team, because I have been in a high elite netball environment. We train once every fortnight and then we will have a full on two hour hard intense training session,” she said. “I think they are really trying to push to get more people involved and get the word out there about the All Abilities program.”

While Ryde has had an impressive year both on and off the court, she says she still has elements of her game she would like to improve on.

“A definite strength is obviously my height – leaping and a good arm, strong target. Obviously being tall and always being an option in the goal ring to turn and shoot the goals, she said.

“I guess my weakness is my confidence sometimes. You can tell when I’m confident and when I’m not confident, I’ll take a longer shot if I’m feeling confident but if I don’t shoot a longer shot that’s when you know I’m off and my confidence must be down. So yeah I’ve got to believe in myself all the time and just getting that confidence all the time.”

Casey Demons’ pathway to finals