Tag: australian netball league

Is Australian netball moving too far from the regular game?

WITH the introduction of the two goal Super Shot to the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) for season 2020, we delve into the rule changes in the SSN in recent seasons. While some rules have less impact than others, there is plenty to unpack when it comes to why fans and players alike are so frustrated with the changes to netball in Australia.

Starting with ultimately the most controversial and unpopular rule to-date, the two goal Super Shot. Its introduction has thrown a huge spanner in the works for clubs, coaches, players and fans alike six weeks out of from the beginning of the season. Already a contentious announcement, players were blindsided by the rule change, not consulted prior to the announcement on Tuesday and leaving many up in arms and confused by the decision to go ahead with the major rule change. 

With fan engagement one of the most important factors in Super Netball’s success, the league’s deliberate decision to go ahead with the rule change regardless of the unpopularity as shown in an earlier survey conducted by SSN itself, has alienated many fans and could see many turn away from the competition because of it. With a lot of netball fans real traditionalists in the way the game is played, a massive change like this will leave a lot of fans wondering whether they will continue to financially support a league that continues to move further and further away from the typical netball game.

In a media release issued by the Australian Netball Players’ Association (ANPA) on Wednesday, ANPA President and former Diamonds representative Nat Medhurst said that the lack of communication from the Suncorp Super Netball is not good enough, while New Zealand Silver Ferns coach, Noeline Taurua also disagreed with the significant change in rules.

“For a decision of this significance to be made and announced without any engagement with the players, just six weeks out from the start of the season, is extremely disappointing and disrespectful,” Medhurst said.

“The players believe this initiative has been handled poorly, not for the first time, and it cannot happen again. We have written to the SSN Commission to seek their formal assurance on that.”

Another decision made ahead of the season’s start is the introduction of rolling substitutions, though the difference here is that the announcement was made far in advance and off the back of testing in the Australian Netball League (ANL) in 2019. A huge change to the way the sport is played, rolling subs could be a massive game-changer in the Super Netball given it will be an entirely new aspect to the sport that many have not yet seen in action and may not be entirely happy about. With so much changing at once, there is potential for the 2020 version of Suncorp Super Netball to look like an entirely different sport – which then brings us to the next rule change over the past seasons, the tactical timeout rule.

An adaptation over recent years that many have noticed impacts away from the Super Netball competition, the tactical timeout rule allows teams to call two tactical timeouts per quarter, typically adding up to eight timeouts with coach guidance per match. But on the international stage those same rules do not apply, meaning players do not have the same access to coaches and changes to game plans, limiting communication between players to those within the same areas of the court. 

While this example is not as significant as something like the Super Shot, questions can be asked of how the lack of tactical timeouts on the international stage actually benefits teams other than Australia, with the entire Diamonds cohort unused to going full steam for the full quarter without that extra guidance. This is not to call the professionalism or skill of the players into question because realistically these are talented athletes who can buckle down to get the job done, but instead bring up an aspect of how it can have a negative impact on the game, especially when having to swap and change between competitions with different rules.

One of the only decisions that has not significantly changed Australian netball is the introduction of bonus points per quarter won during a match. Where the aforementioned rules can arguably change games for the worse and have a negative impact on Australia’s performance at an international level, this is one of the changes that can actually boost the Diamonds’ chances of success. 

After two seasons with bonus points, many players are now well and truly used to kicking their game up to the next gear to ensure they win that bonus point and climb up the ladder or deny their opposition a chance at full points per round. But this change arguably does not have a bad impact on the nation’s potential internationally which is what makes it one of those rules that does not fundamentally change the game, instead just a point of difference for the competition compared to other domestic leagues.

Where rules such as the bonus points for winning quarters could actually be a booster to Australia’s chances internationally, huge changes like Super Shots and rolling subs could seriously hurt Australia on the world stage. While Super Netball players are professional enough to not need to rely on double goals or constant substitutions to win games, the further that Australia’s domestic netball moves away from the traditional game so do the Diamonds, having to constantly readjust to different rules.

For such a major adaptation to the game to be made with little to no communication to clubs, players and coaches – less than two hours notice of the announcement, in fact – is a real slap in the face with just six weeks left before the season starts. Factor in the need to now add a new element to team strategies that have already had to adapt to the rolling subs rule, and teams have very little time to prepare for a competition that will look very different to past Super Netball seasons. 

How does ANL cancellation affect netball in Australia?

WITH netball’s COVID-19 restrictions still in place for the indefinite future and the 2020 Suncorp Super Netball season put on hold until August, it was only a matter of time until pathway programs were brought into the mix with the announcement yesterday that the 2020 Australian Netball League (ANL) season has been cancelled due to difficulties arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The most direct of the Australian pathways to the domestic league, the ANL sees all eight states and territories compete, with matches and teams aligning with the Super Netball competition. The ANL is a direct feeder to the SSN, with players using teams as an elite development opportunity.

Announced by Netball Australia on Tuesday morning as “due to financial pressures and inconsistent restrictions on training and matches between states and territories”, the cancellation means a lot of things for different aspects of the sport – namely the Super Netball benches and training partners, with players typically playing in the ANL when they do not receive SSN game time. 

Where this affects players at the top level, it flows down at a more significant rate to the individual pathway programs of each state, with emerging Australian talent unable to match up against those hailing from opposing states and territories.

Netball Australia Executive General Manager of Performance Stacey West says that the national governing body is exploring alternate development opportunities in place of the competition.

“We recognise that this is a lost development opportunity for this cohort,” she said. “A group including athletes, coaches and officials that we seek to nurture and progress each year to support our high performance pathway. “This [alternate opportunities] is likely to be similar to the centralised talent camps Netball Australia delivers at the Netball Centre of Excellence based at the AIS, which involve skill development, match play and education.” 

Netball Victoria released a follow-up statement on Tuesday afternoon, announcing a newly devised 2020 Victorian Elite Development Squad program, providing elite development across two squads made up of athletes from both the 2020 Victorian Fury and 2020 17/U and 19/U Victorian State teams.

Victorian Fury head coach, Di Honey and Netball Victoria Pathways Manager, Cathy Fellows have been announced at the program’s helm.

“Whilst today’s announcement was obviously disappointing for all the athletes and support staff involved, who have put in so much work already this year, we’re looking forward to be able to continue working with Victoria’s best up-and-coming netballers to technically develop their skills to an elite level,” Honey said.

Unfortunately, the cancellation of the ANL could prove more significant a loss than other competitions, with the plethora of talent involved in the pathway potentially unable to progress in their development without game time against opposing state and territory talent, meaning less opportunity to be brought up the ranks to a Super Netball club if the chance arises.

Thus far, no official announcements have been made regarding individual state competitions, which will come down to each state’s netball governing body.

While the ANL cancellation is unlikely to have a major impact on the future of netball in Australia, it is important to recognise the significance of the lack of game time these players will get, with the influx of international netballers in the Suncorp Super Netball already seeing less opportunity for ANL players to prove themselves at the top level.

Top 15 SSN training partners: #15 Ashlee Unie

WITH a number of netball leagues across the world being suspended due to COVID-19, the Draft Central team is taking a look at the top 15 training partners stepping up to the Suncorp Super Netball plate in 2020. The countdown begins with Sunshine Coast Lightning midcourt defender, Ashlee Unie. This countdown is purely opinion-based, taking into consideration 2019 form, individual potential and future development.

A returnee to the Lightning camp as a training partner for the third year in a row, Unie, a versatile midcourt defender, has plenty of promise taken under the wing of some of the greatest defenders in the world. At 180cm tall, the Queensland talent and Lightning local was co-captain of Territory Storm in the Australian Netball League (ANL) in 2019 and was USC Thunder’s inaugural captain in the Queensland feeder competition, Sapphire Series. Predominantly a wing defence with the capability to jump into the circle, the exposure Unie has had to top-end talent with the Lightning has already helped her improve her game tenfold. 

With speed and precision Unie has the ability to track her opposition across the court and wear down her attacker, playing the typical dogged-defence role to deny crucial ball into the goal circle whether she is playing on the wing or in the circle. The 23-year-old may have plenty of development ahead of her, but with the experience and influence of Laura Langman and Karla Pretorius training beside her over the past few seasons she has plenty of chances to prove herself and step up to the plate. While Unie has not had a load of court time for the Lightning just yet, if the opportunity presents itself she is one to watch out for through the midcourt.


15. Ashlee Unie (Sunshine Coast Lightning)

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

Australian Netball League players to watch: Round 1

ROUND 1 of the Australian Netball League saw each team play twice over the course of weekend. We took note of some of the key players in the match we attended, focusing on those selected for the Melbourne Vixens and GIANTS Netball sides.

Victorian Fury:

Kadie-Ann Dehaney

Dehaney played the final quarter of the Melbourne Vixens v. GIANTS Netball match so was rested for periods during this game, however still took on the game well with her great hands over and pressure under the post. Came out to goal defence for patches and was solid covering the extra ground, showed her clever read of play in defence throughout the whole match. Dehaney was not afraid to come out hunting for the intercept and really highlighted her impressive lean over the shot throughout the game.

Lara Dunkley

Dunkley was a solid option through the midcourt, highlighting her versatility as she cleverly moved through the centre court as a viable wing and centre mover. Her stellar use of space proves why she is on the Vixens list, while her read of play and speed on the drive down court provided a handy option through the space. Her feeds into the circle were also impressive, letting the ball go at the right time and positioning to her shooters’ advantage.

Ine-Mari Venter

Showcased her versatility, playing through both goal shooter and goal attack during the match. Had all the momentum, cleanly slotting into whichever position she was needed in and adapting well to the player she was paired with. Did a great job finding space both inside and outside the circle, settling the play and showcasing her stellar footwork as she worked her way closer to the post. Used her height well in the circle, credit to her ability to hold for a lob or create movement under the post to open space for her fellow goalers. Venter was also accurate to post only missing seven shots from her 38 and showcased her technique in the goal circle proving a threat to her opposition defenders.

Canberra GIANTS:

Matilda McDonell

McDonell was another player who took the court during the Suncorp Super Netball, Vixens v. GIANTS match but showed off her skilful movement and aerial ability particularly well against the Fury. Her pressure on the loose ball was tough, at times crowding the space around the receiver and forcing the attack to move out of the circle. Did well against the likes of Venter, all but proving she has the capability to take on the higher levels.

Georgia Marshall

Marshall was a key option at the post for the GIANTS, playing out the full match and shooting 32 goals from 40 attempts at 80 per cent, proving she certainly has the ability to receive ball and shoot a volume of shots under pressure. Put her footwork to the test with some solid movement around the circle creating opportunities to go to post, taking shots without hesitation.

Maddie Hay

Had a solid game through the midcourt, putting in the hard yards against the likes of Dunkley and offering some great assistance through both defence and attack. Put some good pressure on every pass, creating opportunities for her side and used her decision making to get into clever positions to feed the ball into her sides goalers.

Netball Draft Central coverage in 2019

AS the first official fortnight of Netball Draft Central nears the finishing post, we thought we would give a site update.

At Netball Draft Central, we aim to cover both international and domestic competitions throughout 2019. We have already begun covering the Vitality Netball Superleague in England, as well as the Northern Quad Series which comes to a conclusion over the weekend.

In the middle of February, the ANZ Premiership kicks off in New Zealand, while the Australian domestic competitions are staggered over the next few months. The Suncorp Super Netball begins in April and has a break for the World Cup in July, the Victorian Netball League begins at the end of March, while we will also cover the Australian Netball League, which is yet to set a formal fixture.

The World Cup is a major event this year in England, as will be the Southern Quad Series later in the year, and other regular international competitions such as the Constellation Cup and Fast5.

Netball Draft Central will have dedicated pages to all these competitions which can be found below:


Suncorp Super Netball (SSN)

Australian Netball League (ANL)

Victorian Netball League (VNL)


Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL)


ANZ Premiership


International competitions


Each page will have relevant news, fixtures/results and ladders, as well as special content throughout the year. There are plenty of exciting announcements to come for Netball Draft Central so stay tuned on the page.

Netball Draft Central shooting goals in 2019

NETBALL Draft Central is the newest edition in the Draft Central network, and joins AFL Draft Central and Basketball Draft Central on the world wide web. In 2019, Netball Draft Central will focus on the top Australian leagues, covering the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN), Australian Netball League (ANL) and Victorian Netball League (VNL). We will also look to provide news from across the country, and the international competitions.

With the Quad Series in January and the World Cup mid-year, there is plenty of international matches on the horizon. Next month we will also cover the Vitality Netball Superleague in England. Naturally living up to our name, Netball Draft Central will also focus on the up-and-coming talent of netball across the country. It is an exciting development in the sport that so many young people grow up playing or having family members participate. We look forward to the growth of Netball Draft Central and you will see much change over the next 12 months.

Lead by Senior Editor, Taylah Melki and a team of passionate writers, the future of netball coverage has never been in better hands. If you are someone keen on writing about netball in the future, get in touch at taylah@adzeemedia.com.