Tag: ash brazill

2020 SSN: Season preview – Collingwood Magpies

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, with Collingwood Magpies up next on the list. 

Coach: Rob Wright
Captain: Geva Mentor and Madi Browne
2019 finish: 4th

The Magpies had a strange 2019 season, racking up seven wins and two draws. The side found plenty of purchase through the middle of the season and had a stellar patch to finish, making the finals thanks to a magnificent win against the Vixens in the last round, before then falling to the Vixens in the first round of finals. Overall, the Magpies were a force to be reckoned with thanks to their ability to pull out unsuspecting wins but also lost a couple of matches with a lack of consistency and connection down the court and a couple of major injuries putting their season in doubt. With Madi Browne ruled out prior to the season beginning and Kelsey Browne bookending with the same injury towards the end of the season, the side was interrupted but their good patches were better than most and proved that they could make just about any combination work if they were on. Shimona Nelson impressed upon her move to Melbourne, while Nat Medhurst was a crucial cog in attack, playing almost a dual role in and around the goal circle thanks to her wealth of experience to hold up the circle at times.

2020 predictions/expectations:

Collingwood have an entirely new-look team in 2020, with three crucial players in Medhurst, April Brandley and Kim Ravaillion ruled out with pregnancy and midcourt star Ash Brazill out with an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury acquired in February. But while the side has lost a wealth of experience, they have brought in some quality talent to replace them with Jamaican Jodi-Ann Ward joining the defensive fray to bolster ranks with Geva Mentor and Matilda Garrett, while Gabby Sinclair and Mel Bragg return to the team for a second season, with Bragg elevated to be a permanent player in 2020. Molly Jovic and Julia Woolley also join the fray for the first time, with the duo both snatched up to provide another option in attack and Woolley an interesting selection to join the goal circle given her lack of experience in the elite pathways. The team will need to ensure its connections are on point if they are to challenge some of the top teams in 2020, especially given the new two goal Super Shot with some inexperienced players in the midst.

Key player to watch:

Nelson had a breakout season last year, increasing her volume and accuracy across the season and will have to do the same in 2020 given the loss of Medhurst in attack. While Medhurst did a wealth of work to get the ball to Nelson in 2019, plying her trade and helping the young goaler develop her craft, Nelson will be the go-to girl this season  but could really lack that backup goaler stepping up that she relied on to generate ball, meaning the Magpies could be in a lot of trouble if she cannot get easy access to the ball under the post. With an impressive aerial ability and accuracy, plus her ability to put pressure on the scoreboard and she will be a real player to watch this season. Her development was second to none last season but will need to step up once again this year as the experienced player at the post, and will want to continue her development to ensure she brings her strong hands from the get-go to be a consistent threat at the post.

Team list:

Madi Browne
Kelsey Browne
Geva Mentor
Gabby Sinclair
Matilda Garrett
Mel Bragg
Jodi-Ann Ward
Shimona Nelson
Julia Woolley
Molly Jovic
Kelly Altmann

What if … the Constellation Cup is cancelled?

THE Constellation Cup has become a permanent fixture in the international netball calendar with Australia and New Zealand putting themselves to the test and often trying out new combinations to discover some type of competitive edge. With dates for Constellation Cup confirmed for mid October international netball is in sight, giving fans plenty to be excited about. It will be the first time that Australia and New Zealand have gone head to head since last year where the Diamonds restored their winning ways claiming their seventh Constellation Cup. In that time both countries have seen some key players retire with the likes of Maria Folau for the Ferns and Caitlin Thwaites for Australia both hanging up the dress, leaving some big holes in the respective squads. While the thought of international netball looms it is all dependent on the spread and safety precautions which must be taken given the current COVID-19 pandemic. 

So what if the Constellation Cup was cancelled? 

With Australia in the middle of somewhat of a rebuild after two heartbreaking one goal losses in the 2018 Commonwealth Games and 2019 Netball World Cup, a lack of international netball could have a severe impact on the development of their next generation players. With Thwaites, retiring the opportunity for a new goaler is in the mix with a host of young talent such as Cara Koenen and Sophie Garbin both putting their hand up as viable options last year with their accuracy to post and clever movement. The midcourt could also have a different look for the Diamonds with Ash Brazill unlikely to pull on the green and gold due to a devastating anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury at the start of the year leaving a chance for the likes of Kate Moloney or Gabi Simpson. Similarly the same goes for New Zealand with the Ferns on the search for Folau’s replacement whether it be shooting prodigy Grace Nweke, Maia Wilson or Aliyah Dunn. The Ferns could also be without Bailey Mes who was ruled out of the ANZ Premiership season with a patella injury, creating another possibility for a young player to take the court. With key players missing from both sides respectively the Constellation Cup would be an ideal platform for both teams to test out new combinations and allow up and comers to join the ranks. However if both nations are unable to get on court in an international setting the next time they step out on court could be in the Nations Cup when they will be faced with the likes of England, Jamaica or South Africa. 

The ramifications do not stop there though, with Australia still on the hunt for a coach with Lisa Alexander no longer in charge of the Diamonds. With no coach at the helm the Diamonds future is still relatively up in the air, something they will be hoping to get on top of in the coming months and test out at the Constellation Cup. The tournament will provide the Diamonds with a chance to test out new combinations, coaching styles and ultimately act as a trial run for the upcoming Nations Cup. 

If cancelled due to travel restrictions it also throws up the possibility of not seeing some household netball names take the court again. Both teams have a couple of players heading towards the latter stage of their career in particular New Zealand with the likes of Laura Langman and Katrina Rore. While in no means are we hoping for them to retire from international netball given their undeniable explosiveness, skill and sheer presence, retirement is inevitable in every netballers career. Langman is 34 while Rore hit the 33 mark this year and if international netball comes to a halt in 2020 there is a slight chance netball fans may have already seen the back of them. 

Travel is a key part of the Constellation Cup with games played both in Australia and New Zealand, however if restrictions remain in place the competition will not be able to go ahead and subsequently have a huge impact on the world of international netball.

International All-Stars players edition: Sigi Burger (London Pulse/South Africa)

CONTINUING our theme of All-Star teams, South Africa and London Pulse star goal shooter, Sigi Burger compiled her own dream team. Take a look at her selections and reasoning behind each player.

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My All-Star Team:

Sigi Burger (London Pulse/South Africa)

So when Draft Central asked me to do this, it literally took me a month to get the article to them because up until the morning that I’m writing this, I couldn’t decide who my dream team would be. The netball world is so rich in players with amazing skills, court craft, natural hunting instincts and flair, that I had to think hard and deep about certain positions on court.

However, this is the team I have decided upon.

Irene van Dyk. I decided on Irene as she has been my role model since I could remember. Growing up all I wanted to be was the next Irene. With incredible athleticism, accurate shooting, a body stronger than an ox and ripped like a piece of meat eaten by a hungry dog, Irene carved the shooting position as we know it today. Having played both for South Africa (I went to the same uni!) and New Zealand, to achieve such incredible things and to be a force to be reckoned with, and then to still stay so humble, it’s just incredible. Not to mention I TOTALLY fangirled when she followed me back on Instagram in 2017.

Gretel Bueta. Flair, skills, elevation and speed. Never has a netball player had such a dramatic impact on a game because they play so ‘differently’- from two-metre layups, jump shots, jump passes, athleticism that should NOT be normal! Gretel’s pace is incredible and her playing is un-markable. You simply do not know what she is going to do next and she is still so young, and does it all with a huge smile on her face. Also one of the sweetest people there is.

Madi Browne. with her quick feet, agility, ball handling skills and confidence to feed a shooter, it would definitely be Madi Browne, and for sure would she be able to feed the powerful duo of Gretel and Irene. Her never give up attitude is exactly what any team needs in the attacking side of court. Is there any ball that Madi cannot get into the circle? Her vision for her circle attackers is unrivalled. Her pace through court is so quick that not even being double marked makes a difference.

Laura Langman. Pace, accuracy, power and vision. Feisty, competitive, skills second to none and a complete powerhouse. With the amount of experience and confidence she boasts she would be the perfect person to keep everyone calm on court and with her strength in both attacking and defending I couldn’t think of a better centre to bring the ball through court. She is untouchable.

Ash Brazill. The MOST determined fighter of a player there is. Injuries, non-selection, height issues, etc. – Whatever has been thrown at Ash, she has just thrown it straight back. Her stamina on court is terrifying – SHE JUST DOES NOT STOP RUNNING. When she and Laura Langman play against each other, it’s a dream to watch. An incredible mentor and role model to so many. PLUS she’s always smiling.

Karla Pretorius. For some of you, you might not know how Karla has really blossomed into the exceptional player she is today. For starters, she wasn’t ever selected in any state/county/provincial teams during her school career. This all happened after school, really highlighting that there is no set time for anyone to have to achieve something by a specific time to be successful one day. She is the best goal defence of all time. Being smaller in stature, but that sixth sense and hunting instinct running strongly through her veins. She gets tips and intercepts that no one sees coming, is always just there to pick up a loose ball and has composure through it all. Very well deserved player of the tournament in 2019 Netball World Cup.

Laura Geitz. Simply the best and ruthless with her defending, incredible footwork, athleticism, rebounds that were terrifying in the aggression – you didn’t want to miss when Laura was under the post. She used to lead her players through her passion and love for her team and the game. Was relentless in her hunting for the ball. Every wing and goal attack knew if the ball was not on during the feed, it was game over. Just an exceptional player.

On the bench:

Ameliaranne Ekenasio. No team would be complete without Meels who plays an amazing goal shooter or goal attack and stays focused throughout, keeps calm under pressure and boasts an extremely successful shooting average. Her infectious smile and go-getter personality would also bring a great vibe to the team.

Liz Watson. Liz would make a great part of this team and she could confidently play any midcourt position and absolutely nail it with her aggression, composure in tight situations and incredible ball handling skills and accurate passing, as well as her tenacious go-getter attitude fighting until the final whistle has been blown.

Sharni Layton. No team is complete without a Sharni Layton. Sharni is one of those that you know you could put on court and she would give 120 per cent for her entire duration on court, bringing a presence both in her skills and defensive play but as well as her voice and personality. An immediate doom on any other team to face them. She would be the secret weapon and the intimidation factor. Her play was incredible and any goal shooter or goal attack would have their hands full with her playing against them. Plus an amazing personality and positive spirit.

This is my team, and I’d also just like to thank my mate Megan Pugh for helping me make the final decisions on this difficult task. I’m happy with the team I put forward and thank goodness they would never actually play against each other, because good luck to any team trying to face this strong 10.

SIGI BURGER’S ALL STARS

GS: Irene van Dyk
GA: Gretel Bueta (Nee Tippett)
WA: Madi Browne
C: Laura Langman
WD: Ash Brazill
GD: Karla Pretorius
GK: Laura Geitz

BENCH: Ameliaranne Ekenasio, Liz Watson, Sharni Layton

Fantasy Team: AUS/NZ v. Rest of the world

THERE is no shortage of talent across the netball world with stars hailing from a range of different countries. Draft Central has created two teams, one comprised of players from Australia and New Zealand the other made up of netballers from around the globe.

Australia/New Zealand:

GK: Jane Watson
GD: Katrina Rore
WD: Ash Brazill
C: Laura Langman
WA: Liz Watson
GA: Ameliaranne Ekenasio
GS: Caitlin Bassett

BENCH: Gretel Bueta, Gina Crampton, Jo Weston

Starting in the defensive third it is hard to go past the tried and tested duo of Jane Watson and Katrina Rore. Watson has come along in leaps and bounds with her pressure over the shot, speed off the mark and impressive leap causing all sorts of havoc down back. Throw in the experience and class of Rore and the defensive unit is one to be envious of. Rore is electric, nimble on her feet and has proven to be a real barometer for any team, able to create tips and deflections time and time again.

The midcourt is littered with highly athletic netballers able to run all day and constantly do the unthinkable. Starting in wing defence is Ash Brazill, with the Diamonds midcourter renowned for her aerial ability and flashy style of play. Brazill can create plenty of turnover ball and has a high endurance to run toe to toe with her opponent all game. It is no surprise that the centre bib goes to Silver Ferns and netball legend Laura Langman. With experience to boot, speed off the mark, explosiveness and undeniable netball smarts Langman is one of the most exciting midcourters to take the court. She can single handedly turn the game on its head with a perfectly timed intercept or a pin-point pass into the circle. Diamond, Liz Watson takes out the wing attack position with the speedy centre court player strong around circle edge. Her vision is second to none and is constantly two moves ahead of her opponent such is netball understanding. Watson oozes class, dynamism and precision able to deliver the ball into the goalers with great ease.

The goal circle is headlined by two impressive shooters with Ferns goal attack, Ameliaranne Ekenasio getting the nod. Ekenasio is a smooth mover that glides across the court and is a real playmaker in the attacking third. She backs herself from range, able to shoot from anywhere in the circle and uses her quick footwork to reposition in the goal circle. In at goal shooter is Diamonds captain Caitlin Bassett with the towering goaler renowned for her strong holds and high volume. Her positioning under the post is impressive able to ward off defenders with her angles and footwork, while also making the most of her long limbs to reel in passes going over the baseline.

The experience and class does not stop there with Gretel Bueta unlucky not to get the start but earning a spot on the bench, while versatile attacker Gina Crampton also earned herself a spot. The final place goes to Diamonds’ Jo Weston given her defensive pressure.

Rest of the world:

GK: Geva Mentor
GD: Karla Pretorius
WD: Vangelee Williams
C: Serena Guthrie
WA: Bongi Msomi
GA: Helen Housby
GS: Sam Wallace

BENCH:  Lenize Potgieter, Chelsea Pitman, Shamera Sterling,

Kicking things off down in goal keeper is England Roses and netball veteran, Geva Mentor. The highly talented defender is nothing but class with her silky footwork, lean over the shot and skill to pick off passes entering the defensive third. She is deceptively quick and applies a wealth of pressure. Pairing with Mentor is Spar Proteas goal defence Karla Pretorius. The South African defender is in a league of her own with her speed off the mark and uncanny ability to reel in intercepts. She is simply unstoppable when on song, causing all sorts of havoc down back with her menacing style of play, quick footwork and long arms to force turnovers and propel the ball back down the court.

Through the midcourt Jamaican defender Vangelee Williams gets the nod at wing defence. She is a highly versatile player that can drop back into circle defence when needed but has an impressive skillset around the circle edge credit to her balance and netball smarts. Meanwhile, t is hard to go past England Roses midcourter, Serena Guthrie in centre. Guthrie is a running machine that just keeps on going, throwing herself at everything that comes her way. She has speed to boot and while she is more defensively minded can apply plenty of attacking pressure with her well-weighted passes into the goal circle. The 30-year-old is a key cog for any side able to provide that steadying presence and spark up when needed. In at wing attack is South African speedster Bongi Msomi, with the nippy midcourter able to dart around the court and create space in the attacking third. Msomi has lightning quick hands, able to fire off passes into the circle and is strong around the circle edge despite her slight frame.

The goal attack position goes to the cool, calm and collected Helen Housby. The Roses shooter is hardly ever frazzled and can shoot from anywhere in the circle, given her impressive range and accuracy to post. She is quick on her feet and is not afraid to take the hard drive into the circle to receive the ball. Her pairing with Trinidad and Tobago goaler, Sam Wallace is highly impressive with the two able to seamlessly move in the circle and create plays. Wallace is arguably one of the most laidback and underrated shooters and uses that to her full advantage, getting up to the high balls with ease while also putting up a wealth of shots.

Rounding out the team is South African and unconventional shooter, Lenize Potgieter along with Roses midcourter Chelsea Pitman and Jamaican excitement machine Shamera Sterling.

Who would win?

Both teams are packed with plenty of x-factor, however given that Australia and New Zealand sit one and two on the rankings it is fair to assume they might have the upper hand. The experience of Langman, Rore and Bassett in each third will help give the Diamonds/Ferns team that competitive edge over the rest of the world while their strength through the midcourt is also another key indicator.

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

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

Australia & Jamaica (Diamond Girls)

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

BENCH: Caitlin Bassett, Adean Thomas, Courtney Bruce

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

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

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

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

New Zealand & England (Silver Roses)

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

BENCH: Helen Housby, Serena Guthrie, Jane Watson

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

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

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

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

Who would win?

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

Top 15 SSN training partners: #8 Sharni Lambden

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 eight is Collingwood Magpies midcourter, Sharni Lambden. This countdown is purely opinion-based, taking into consideration recent form, individual potential and future development.

A talented defensive midcourter, 22-year-old Lambden has caught plenty of attention on the international stage from a young age, part of the Australian Diamonds Development Squad 2016 with plenty of drive to improve and consistency through the centre despite not yet having that big opportunity to line up in the Super Netball. Lambden is a valuable partner with the Magpies, able to apply pressure on both the ball and the player while also being able to be that impact player where required. While unlucky on the Magpies part with injuries aplenty over the court last season potentially impacting the side again this season, Lambden could have a real chance to break into the Collingwood side if she puts her best foot forward at training.

With an ability to switch between centre and wing defence, Lambden can be a crucial link-up through the midcourt with her drive down the court and ability to switch between offensive and defensive mindsets with relative ease. Already familiar with the training partner role after being on the list for the past two seasons with the Magpies, Lambden will look to continue her development alongside midcourt injury returnees Madi and Kelsey Browne while Ash Brazill is sure to be a solid mentor playing a similar role at the club despite being highly unlikely to make her return in 2020. A crucial link through an already star-studded midcourt at the Tasmanian Magpies in the Australian Netball League, Lambden has been touted as a massive threat for a while coming so will look to put that into practice this year.

TOP 15 SSN TRAINING PARTNERS SO FAR:

#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)

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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What if… Kelsey and Madi Browne did not do their ACLs?

LAST season was shaping up to be the year of the Magpies in the Suncorp Super Netball after recruiting a wealth of A-list players. Fresh off back-to-back premierships, Lightning duo Geva Mentor and Kelsey Browne joined the black and white, while former Australian Diamond and West Coast Fever star Nat Medhurst was also among some of the key signings for the club. In the first pre-season tournament, Collingwood reigned supreme taking out the inaugural Team Girls Cup thanks to their slick ball movement, defensive strength and speed. But unfortunately, the tournament was marred by injury with co-captain Madi Browne succumbing to what was later revealed as a season ending anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. Often criticised for having too many highly talented midcourters with both Madi and Kelsey Browne, along with Kim Ravaillion and Ash Brazill the Magpies were at a crossroads. Although it was hard to replace the co-captain on court, they made do with the skilled list they had shuffling players around and later bringing in the likes of Silver Ferns dynamite Kimiora Poi. But the injuries did not stop there with Kelsey Browne also rupturing her ACL in August that season, all but putting a dampener on their 2019 grand final hopes.

So what if Kelsey and Madi Browne did not do their ACL in season 2019? Would Collingwood have progressed into the next stage of finals?

It is fair to say that both Kelsey and Madi Browne are the heart and soul of the club often providing that spark both on and off the court with their flashy style of play and excitement. With Madi going down before the season officially started it put a clear strain on the Collingwood line-up with the side struggling to find their rhythm in attack. The classy wing attack oozes experience and is strong around the circle edge, something that the Magpies lacked at times. Her ability to move into centre and have an influence also allowed Collingwood to shake-up their midcourt and keep opponents on their toes, something they would have been hoping to have up their sleeve throughout the season. With new connections in the goal circle thanks to recruits Medhurst and Shimona Nelson it took some time for the feeders to adjust to their varying styles meaning the experience and presence of Madi Browne was sorely missed in the early stages. Although they have similar styles the speed of Kelsey Browne is what made her such an integral player for the Magpies, able to dart around the court and exploit even the tiniest spaces. She delivered the ball with confidence and precision a skill that would have been highly valued heading into the finals.

Towards the backend of the season the Magpies seemed to find some strong form trouncing crosstown rivals Melbourne Vixens by 11 goals in the final game of the home and away season to walk into finals. But when it came to D-Day Collingwood was all out of options missing the depth on the bench and reliability of both Browne sisters. There were changeups across the court with wing defence come centre Brazill announcing herself as a real powerhouse with her athleticism and endurance and while she along with Poi and Ravaillion worked gallantly it was clear that there was a piece missing in the jigsaw puzzle. Gabby Sinclair often found herself out in wing attack to provide another option out the front while training partner Kelsie Rainbow was elevated to add to the midcourt stocks.

Given the fact that both Kelsey and Madi Browne offer such unique talent, speed and netball understanding an assumption could be made that Collingwood could have gone one further if not all the way had they not been affected by injury from the very beginning of the season.

SSN All-Stars prove no match for Diamonds in Bushfire Relief game

THE Diamonds claimed victory over the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) All-Stars (66-53) in the Netball Bushfire Relief game. Australia’s strong connections down court proved to be the difference between the two teams with their ability to weave their way down the court and use their change of speed to exploit the All-Stars side. Despite having a stacked line-up it took a while for the All-Stars to gel, but a potential third quarter comeback had the Diamonds worried before they resorted to their usual ways and ran out comfortable winners. The new rules did not seem to bother either side instead they embraced the rolling subs and two-point shot with both sides making the most of the changes.

It was a big game for the Diamonds with coach Lisa Alexander heading up her last game and Caitlin Thwaites pulling on the green and gold dress for the last time. With Ash Brazill ruled out of the clash due to a potential anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury sustained in her AFL Women’s game against Melbourne, Gabi Simpson made the switch from All-Stars to Diamonds, while Amy Parmenter was elevated into the All-Stars squad. The disruption did not seem to unsettle the Diamonds, with Simpson slotting back in seamlessly credit to her skill, defensive pressure and pre-existing connections with a host of players while Parmenter added plenty of excitement.

With the centre pass starting with the All-Stars it did not take the Diamonds long to create a turnover with Courtney Bruce taking an impressive intercept, proving why they are world number one with Gretel Tippett rewarding Bruce’s efforts with a goal. The Diamonds continued their merry way building on their connections and using their experience together to slice through the All-Stars defensive unit. The combination between Geva Mentor and Karla Pretorius was strong with the two drawing upon their time at the Lightning to rotate through the circle and use their feet to cause confusion in the circle but it was not enough to put off Tippett, Thwaites and Caitlin Bassett. Thwaites scored the first super shot of the game proving that she was going to go out in style thanks to her long range shooting and smooth movement. Australia opened up a four-goal lead with five minutes left in the opening term before really ramping it up to take a commanding eight-goal lead into the first break.

With the lead in favour of the Diamonds, the All-Stars had plenty to prove with England Roses teammates Chelsea Pitman and Helen Housby combining nicely in the attacking third with their clever movement and precise ball placement. Housby and Jamaican, Jhaniele Fowler found plenty of space in the goal circle against the likes of Maddy Turner and Sarah Klau with Fowler making full use of her height and reach. The continuous subs provided plenty of opportunities for players to come on and have an immediate impact, with Adelaide Thunderbirds defender Shamera Sterling using her lean over the shot and lanky arms to gobble up any missed shots or errant passes. Nine goals down, the All-Stars went for an all-Swifts approach with Nat Haythornthwaite, Housby and Sam Wallace all combining but it was not enough to draw back the margin with the Diamonds powering through and using their ball speed to work through the All-Stars defence. Through the midcourt, Liz Watson was electric using her quick feet and good vision to sight Tippett and Thwaites in the circle time and time again. The Diamonds were well and truly humming as the quarter went on unfazed by what the All-Stars line-up threw at them extending the lead to a whopping 18 goals at half time.

It was do-or-die for the SSN side and with the writing on the wall they upped their ante mounting somewhat of a comeback to reduce the deficit to 15 goals at half-time. Newcomer Kiera Austin got her fair share of court time and while she was not overly accurate on the shot her silky movement across the court caught the eye of many interested onlookers. The speed of Laura Scherian through the midcourt opened up the attacking end for the Diamonds with Laura Langman doing her best to combat her Sunshine Coast Lightning teammate with her defensive prowess and sheer stamina. It is hard to argue that Australia seemed to have the majority of the play dominating through the midcourt with Paige Hadley also doing a wealth of work to feed the ball into the goalers with her quick hands and work around the circle edge. The All-Stars dwindled the lead down to 11 goals before the Diamonds once again found their feet in attack thanks to long bomb two-point shot from Tippett and strong defensive work from the likes of Simpson and Turner with the two creating a wall in defence.

The final quarter continued the same fashion as the previous ones with the Diamonds dominating. The All-Stars simply had no answers for Australia unable to stop the rate they were scoring at and moving the ball at. Jo Harten had a hit and miss performance under the post struggling to find her usual range while up the other end Kristiana Manu’a and Emily Mannix both combined well using their intercepting ability to cause havoc. Thwaites was near on unstoppable in the goal circle with her strong hands and well timed movement on full display pairing with Tegan Philip to create a moving circle. Simpson showcased her elite skill with two intercepts in under a minute using her leap and strong hands to reel the ball in. It was a complete performance from the Diamonds with the All-Stars succumbing to their opponents strong connections across the court.

Tippett did the most damage on the scoreboard for the Diamonds converting 20 goals from 27 attempts at 74 per cent accuracy, with five of those goals coming from two-point range while Bassett 11 from 15 and Thwaites 10 from 13 were not far behind. Simpson had a game to remember with four intercepts and four deflections, while Klau impressed with five gains, five deflections and two intercepts. For the All-Stars Sterling led the way down back with a whopping eight gains, four intercepts and five deflections in what was a stellar performance by the developing Jamaican defender. In the goal circle Fowler was accurate to post with 19 goals from 20 attempts.

Netball Bushfire Relief game preview: Diamonds and All-Stars to battle it out in huge showdown

WITH pride on the line for both sides, the contest on Sunday between the Australian Diamonds and Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) All-Stars will draw plenty of attention. It will be the first game the Diamonds have played this year and will be hoping to kick their international campaign off in style while on the other hand the All-Stars will be aiming to showcase their array of talents and bring everything together.

The All-Stars are littered with class acts across the court with Silver Ferns veteran Laura Langman named captain for the exhibition match. Langman is an excitement machine across the court with her dynamic change of pace, quick hands and ability to consistently do the unthinkable. Fellow midcourters in the likes of England Roses duo Chelsea Pitman and Nat Haythornthwaite will complement the speedy style of Langman, with both players renowned for the deliberate approach to circle edge. Wing defence Gabi Simpson will most likely head up the defensive side of the midcourt with her athletic ability and leap a couple of things in her extensive repertoire. Meanwhile Kate Moloney may also find herself rotating through the position given her more defensive style of play in the midcourt. The match-up through the midcourt will set tongues wagging with the likes of wing defence-cum-centre Ash Brazill potentially taking on Langman in what could be an action-packed battle. Brazill oozes athleticism and endurance while Diamonds teammate and wing attack Liz Watson has proven that timing and ball placement is no issue often delivering pin-point passes into the circle. Throw in the likes of Laura Scherian who has come into her own in recent times along with Paige Hadley and both sides have a relatively stacked line-up. Expect the wing defence role to fall to Jamie-Lee Price with her speed and hustle around the circle edge her bread and butter. Price will be looking to outmuscle the likes of Pitman and Haythornthwaite around the circle edge to limit scoring opportunities.

In the defensive circle itself, the All-Stars have a plethora of options none more daunting than the likes of Geva Mentor. The Roses goal keeper is in a league of her own credit to her experience and high netball nous while the likes of young up and coming Jamaican superstar Shamera Sterling will be hoping to set the court alight with her intercepting ability. Mentor will get the opportunity to reunite with former Lightning teammate, Karla Pretorius with the two posing a dominant threat to the Diamonds with their ability to deny ball into the circle with their extreme defensive pressure and skill to clog space. But Australian captain Caitlin Bassett is no stranger to the physicality and mind games that both Pretorius and Mentor play, having spent time with them at the Lightning and combating them at an international level for years. Bassett is strong in the air and under the post able to move her feet and hold space while in her final game before retirement Caitlin Thwaites will be hoping to leave a lasting legacy with her accuracy to post and ability to shoot from anywhere in the circle.  After a standout season for the GIANTS, Kristiana Manu’a will be hoping to make a splash and assert herself on the game while Emily Mannix knows what it takes to knock over the Diamonds having been inside of the Australian camp. Kiera Austin will get the chance to come up against club teammate Manu’a with the young Diamond hoping to highlight her smooth movement in the circle and accuracy to post. It is hard to go past the likes of Gretel Tippett with the star goaler winning the Liz Ellis Medal credit to her impressive 2019. Tippett will be hard to stop with her physical and athletic style along with her increased volume and accuracy to post while fellow goaler Tegan Philip will be wanting to cement her spot in the Diamonds side.

When it comes to the goal circle the talent does not stop headlined by towering Jamaican shooter Jhaniele Fowler who has proven that volume is no issue while the Swifts’ Sam Wallace is no slouch in goal shooter able to use her aerial skills to reign in loose passes and shoot truly. Wallace will more than likely pair up with NSW teammate Helen Housby in the circle while Roses goaler Jo Harten’s combination with Housby could also be on display throughout the match giving the All-Stars coaches in Julie Fitzgerald and Briony Akle plenty to think about. Although the All-Stars have a stacked line-up the Diamonds will be hoping that their defensive connections between the likes of goal keeper Courtney Bruce and Jo Weston will disrupt their attacking flow and force turnovers. Both players are renowned for their hunt for the ball and intercepting ability. The potential match-up between Fever teammates Bruce and Fowler will be exciting with the two known for their aerial style of play and competitive nature. Maddy Turner and Sarah Klau will both also be hoping to impact the contest for the Diamonds with the defenders knowing Housby and Wallace’s game plan inside and out playing with them at the Swifts.

Expect a fireworks display from both sides with neither wanting to loose and key match-ups across the court especially considering the number of club teammate cross-overs across the court.

All-Stars
Jhaniele Fowler
Jo Harten
Nat Haythornthwaite
Helen Housby
Laura Langman
Emily Mannix
Kristiana Manu’a
Geva Mentor
Kate Moloney
Chelsea Pitman
Karla Pretorius
Gabi Simpson
Shamera Sterling
Sam Wallace

Australian Diamonds
Caitlin Bassett
Liz Watson
Kiera Austin
Ash Brazill
Courtney Bruce
Paige Hadley
Sarah Klau
Tegan Philip
Jamie-Lee Price
Laura Scherian
Caitlin Thwaites
Gretel Tippett
Maddy Turner
Jo Weston