Tag: Casey kopua

Top 20 players over 30: #4 Katrina Rore

THERE are a host of international players across the world that, much like a fine wine, have simply gotten better with age. With netball on hold due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Draft Central takes a look at players that fall into the category of over 30 and still have plenty in the tank given their on-court prowess. In at number four on the countdown is the highly skilled and successful Katrina Rore.

Arguably one of the most dominant defenders in recent history, Rore completed the trifecta of netball glory in 2019, credit to her netball nous. Winning the ANZ Premiership with the Central Pulse and then claiming glory in the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) with the New South Wales Swifts a couple of months later, Rore was rolling in silverware. Throw in her gold medal at the Netball World Cup with the Silver Ferns and Rore proved that age is just a number playing a crucial role in each of those winning teams.

The 33-year-old tenacious defender is a real barometer for any team she steps out on court for with her dynamic movement, long reaching arms and read of the play. Rore is exciting to watch, able to constantly do the unthinkable and most importantly drag her side back into the contest when the chips are down. She is lightning quick on her feet, able to jump into action and cause all sorts of headaches for opposition attack ends. The silver Ferns defender does not allow for any easy ball movement in the attacking third, creating doubt in the feeders minds with her change of direction. Her ability to seamlessly transition between wing defence and circle defence is second to none, hardly ever skipping a beat credit to her netball understanding.

Rore is a real leader down back, using every inch of her experience to dictate the space and position her defenders. She has an uncanny ability to swat the ball away whether it be mid-air or along the ground such is her versatility. Her skill to change up her game play from a physical defender to one that plays off the body is crucial to her dominance down back, able to read the flight of the ball and have a profound impact on the flow of the game. The 187cm defender has some serious hops on her and uses her attacking mentality to propel the ball back down the court with ease. her backup at the transverse line, allows her sides attacking end to reset and then push forward while her cleanliness with ball in hand is also imperative to her game style.

She combines well with the likes of Pulse teammate Karin Burger while at an international level her connection with Casey Kopua was almost impenetrable given their experience and smarts. She constantly adapts her game style as shown when joining the Swifts late last year and slotting into the mix with ease, offering her wisdom to the likes of up and coming Diamonds Sarah Klau and Maddy Turner.

Although heading towards the latter end of her career, Rore is still fighting fit with her endurance, speed off the mark and sheer defensive pressure whether it be over the shot or in general play simply unquestionable.

TOP 20 PLAYERS OVER 30:

#20 Stacey Francis (West Coast Fever/England)
#19 Laura Scherian (Sunshine Coast Lightning/Australia)
#18 Ama Agbeze (Severn Stars/England)
#17 Phumza Maweni (Sunshine Coast Lightning/South Africa)
#16 Jade Clarke (Wasps Netball/England)
#15 Chelsea Pitman (Adelaide Thunderbirds/England)

#14 Romelda Aiken (Queensland Firebirds/Jamaica)
#13 Madi Browne (Collingwood Magpies/Australia)
#12 Nat Medhurst (Collingwood Magpies/Australia)

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

#8 Jane Watson (Mainland Tactix/New Zealand)
#7 Caitlin Bassett (GIANTS Netball/Australia)
#6 Jhaniele Fowler (West Coast Fever/Jamaica)
#5 Geva Mentor (Collingwood Magpies/England)
#4 Katrina Rore (Central Pulse/New Zealand)

Top 20 players over 30: #6 Jhaniele Fowler

THERE are a host of international players across the world that, much like a fine wine, have simply gotten better with age. With netball on hold due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Draft Central takes a look at players that fall into the category of over 30 and still have plenty in the tank given their on-court prowess. Just outside the top five at number six is Jamaican goal shooter Jhaniele Fowler.

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

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

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

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

TOP 20 PLAYERS OVER 30:

#20 Stacey Francis (West Coast Fever/England)
#19 Laura Scherian (Sunshine Coast Lightning/Australia)
#18 Ama Agbeze (Severn Stars/England)
#17 Phumza Maweni (Sunshine Coast Lightning/South Africa)
#16 Jade Clarke (Wasps Netball/England)
#15 Chelsea Pitman (Adelaide Thunderbirds/England)

#14 Romelda Aiken (Queensland Firebirds/Jamaica)
#13 Madi Browne (Collingwood Magpies/Australia)
#12 Nat Medhurst (Collingwood Magpies/Australia)

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

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

Top 20 players over 30: #8 Jane Watson

THERE are a host of international players across the world that, much like a fine wine, have simply gotten better with age. With netball on hold due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Draft Central takes a look at players that fall into the category of over 30 and still have plenty in the tank given their on-court prowess. In at number eight on the countdown is Silver Ferns and Mainland Tactix defender Jane Watson.

Just sneaking into the age bracket having turned 30 earlier in the year, Watson is one of the most exciting defenders to watch with her athleticism and hands over pressure. She can pounce into action at the drop of a hat using her long arms and dynamic movement to pick off passes and propel it back down the court.

She is renowned for her defensive prowess with her three-foot marking both inside and outside the goal circle. Watson is a real powerhouse able to dictate the space in the defensive third credit to her intimidating presence. She is quick on her feet and reads the play effortlessly to take a wealth of intercepts and stop any easy access into the circle. She often causes confusion for the feeders looking into the goal circle with her impressive footwork and movement in the circle.

Watson is strong on the rebound, able to get around the body of her opponent and gobble up anything that falls short of the ring. She is hardly ever out positioned and can adapt quickly to changing goalers such is netball smarts and intuition. The 181cm defender is quite nimble and is unstoppable when on song, putting up a wall in defence and making it hard for shooters to find an avenue to goal. Her ability to cleanly manoeuvre around the body of her opponent and stay in play is what makes her such a dominant defender for both the Ferns and Tactix.

At an international level Watson is surrounded by a host of A-listers and has learnt her craft from the likes of Katrina Rore and Casey Kopua. Their experience and knowledge has paid dividends, with Watson able to emulate their defensive prowess in her game play. Plying her trade down back to either get on the move or hold firm on the shooter in the circle, Watson can always be relied upon to spark her side into action.

As captain of the Tactix, Watson is cool, calm and collected down back but most importantly can sense the moment to stand up under pressure and create something. Her leadership is second to none constantly looking to generate that drive out of defence into the middle and attacking third. She is a real barometer for any side using her pressure to get into the head of her opponents and force turnovers to reclaim the ball and get on top. Having only just turned 30, Watson still has plenty in the tank and will be a key cog for both the Tactix and Silver Ferns for years to come given her innate ability to find the ball and shut down her opponent with her relentless niggle.

TOP 20 PLAYERS OVER 30:

#20 Stacey Francis (West Coast Fever/England)
#19 Laura Scherian (Sunshine Coast Lightning/Australia)
#18 Ama Agbeze (Severn Stars/England)
#17 Phumza Maweni (Sunshine Coast Lightning/South Africa)
#16 Jade Clarke (Wasps Netball/England)
#15 Chelsea Pitman (Adelaide Thunderbirds/England)

#14 Romelda Aiken (Queensland Firebirds/Jamaica)
#13 Madi Browne (Collingwood Magpies/Australia)
#12 Nat Medhurst (Collingwood Magpies/Australia)

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

#8 Jane Watson (Mainland Tactix/New Zealand)

Players that got away: Leana de Bruin

THERE are a number of netballers in the world that have pulled on the international dress for more than one country throughout the career. With netball on hold due to the outbreak of COVID-19 Draft Central has decided to take a look at those players and their international careers and what could have been. Next in line is former Silver Ferns and Spar Proteas defender Leana de Bruin.

Starting off her career with South Africa, de Bruin played 34 international caps for the Proteas before transitioning to the Silver Ferns in 2000 where she racked up a whopping 104 international caps in the black dress. She was as consistent as they came for the Spar Proteas acting as a real wall down in defence and using her smothering style of pressure to halt any easy movement into the attacking third. De Bruin was a commanding influence for South Africa throughout her time able to lead her side on court with her impressive vision and ball handling skills.

A member of the New Zealand Silver Ferns, de Bruin was a key cog in the defensive circle with her hands over pressure, speed off the mark and tagging style of defence. She was hardly ever beaten in a one on one given her strength and general netball nous to work around the body of her opponent. Renowned for her physical pressure and aerial ability de Bruin was a constant pain in any goalers side, able to ruffle their feathers and create turnovers.

Her connection with the likes of Katrina Rore and Casey Kopua was electric with the trio able to cause all sorts of havoc down back. Their zone style of defence was what made them such a formidable unit able to transition well and continue that high pressure intensity. She well and truly cemented herself in the squad becoming the fifth player to notch up over 100 tests with her hard-working mentality constantly on display. While her defensive pressure was a clear asset for the Ferns it was her ability to bring the ball down the court and provide attacking options that also made her a force to be reckoned with.

She has had a decorated career, with the highly touted defender lucky enough to feature in five Netball World Cups – one for South Africa in 1999 and the next four in 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015 with New Zealand. Her dominance did not stop there with de Bruin also playing in the 2006, 2010 and 2014 Commonwealth Games for the Ferns. Throughout her time, she tasted plenty of success filling the trophy cabinet with gold and silver medals.

After switching to the Silver Ferns, it is fair to say that de Bruin’s services were well and truly missed for the Spar Proteas who at times lacked that X-factor she possessed. Her ability to read the flight of the ball and inject herself into the game was second to none able to make something out of nothing more times than not given her long reaching arms and footwork.

Winders keeping one eye on the future

AFTER pulling on the dress for the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic for the past seven years, the 2020 ANZ Premiership season looks a little bit different for defensive minded midcourter Sam Winders. The COVID-19 outbreak caused a netball hiatus in New Zealand and across the world but play is set to resume on June 19 with Winders hoping to lead her team on a more successful campaign in 2020.

“We want to be the best team that comes out of lockdown because that says a lot about individual work habits,” she said.

Winders has welcomed the extra time at home, with the newlywed able to spend time with her husband and relishing in the fact she does not have to travel regularly.

“Actually to be honest I have loved it. I have been able to be at home these past couple of months which is completely unheard of because I’m never home for more than two weeks in a row. I got to spend some quality time with my husband and do a few things around the house,” she said.

The centre court player is normally jetting off around the countryside whether it be for training sessions or games, meaning she spends very little time at home with her family but has enjoyed the freedom to do normal everyday things.

“We got out on our bikes each day and we set up a wee gym in our garage so we were able to keep active. Yeah I think the best thing about it was I got to spend some quality time with him and then we had his brother and his girlfriend staying with us. So yeah I think that was pretty cool.”

The break from netball has also given her a different perspective on life after netball, and with a degree in management already under her belt, the avid planner is embarking on more studies and looking to enhance her skills off the netball court.

“I’m actually doing a wee bit of study now on the side which is quite exciting and it might potentially be something I want to do after netball. We’ve been quite lucky actually, in lockdown we’ve had the opportunity to have a few workshops and one of them was around careers and life post-netball and for a lot of players that’s a scary thing and daunting because for so long netball is so much of your life and then when you get to the end of it, it’s like what do you do?” she said.

But there is no denying that the fancy-footed midcourter is eager to get back out on the court and dive into what she loves doing most and that is playing netball.

“Sometimes it feels like ‘man I’m away I don’t get to live this normal life that it seems like everyone else does’ but I don’t really want a nine to five job. I don’t want to be doing the same thing week in week out,” Winders said. “Netball is only for a certain amount of time and while I’m able to do it I’m just trying to lap it up and enjoy it as much as possible.”

Away from the club, training has looked a little bit different for Winders, opting for the spin bike and weights while her husband often chipped in as a training partner, offering his words of netball wisdom during isolation.

“I was lucky to pick up a few weights that I was able to put in the garage and the day before we went into lockdown we got a spin bike so we got that too. I live just around the corner from a big field so I’ve been able to do some modified sessions and it’s kind of strange because you’re pressing to go back to netball but when is netball going to start and do I do some running or do I get ball in hand, am I supposed to be practicing playing a game?” Winders said.

“I got my husband out a couple of times to do some ball work and he’s such a typical boy he thinks that if he really wanted to he could easily be in the New Zealand men’s team and I’m like no you couldn’t,” she said.

After playing one game back in late March it is a huge mental shift for not only Winders but so too the whole Magic team with players looking at coming back into the netball routine and igniting that fire in the belly in what has been an unprecedented year so far.

“It’s definitely a big mental shift that has to happen and I think a lot of it has to do with players that haven’t been with their team for so long and I think it will be a very condensed four weeks when we actually have to get back up and running again,” Winders said. “All the players have talked about how much they want it this year and how much they realise we just have to work hard.”

With social distancing in place, the Magic have resorted to other options to stay in touch, regularly meeting on zoom to talk tactics and catch up with Winders driving the importance for personal connection and staying on track when it comes to the upcoming season.

“We’ve been having team meetings every week on zoom and I actually mentioned in our last one, we can’t treat this season as a write off because actually we do get to play 14 more games or however many games and when we look back on it yeah we will think it was the year of Corona but there will still be interest in the winner maybe even more so,” she said.

Despite only being 24, Winders is one of the most experienced players on the list and is a real leader on-court with her defensive presence and netball smarts, able to seamlessly transition between all midcourt positions. Guided by the likes of Casey Kopua last year, Winders has drawn upon her knowledge to help lead the way so far.

“The biggest thing I learnt from her (Kopua) was she wasn’t a big talker, she led by her actions and when you needed her to do something on court she would just step up and do it. She was always the type of player that you wanted to do well for and I think I’ve tried to use these few weeks of lockdown to really connect with people and make sure everybody is okay where they are.”

Defensively the Magic have a very different outlook compared to their 2019 squad with former captain Kopua retiring and young gun Kelly Jury departing to the Central Pulse. But that does not seem to faze Winders who is excited to see what Erena Mikaere and Holly Fowler can bring to the table in 2020.

“I feel really lucky this year to have done some great recruiting, we’ve got the likes of Erena (Mikaere) who brings some height and lots of experience,” she said. “They don’t have shoes to fill, they have their own shoes to fill, they just have to go out there and do their job best as they can which I guess has been the emphasis all over the court.”

While not explicitly stating her preferred position, able to swing between wing defence and centre, Winders did admit to getting an itch when sitting on the transverse line, longing to get amongst the action down in the attack end but also pointed out the pros of pulling on the wing defence bib.

“I love wing d’, it is such an underrated position and I cannot stress enough that if you’ve got a decent wing d’ then your defensive end will be ticking because they are the ones that call the shots, call the plays, set everything up in my opinion anyway, I love that part of it. If you only have six players never get rid of wing defence,” she joked.

With the end of isolation insight and the season set to commence in less than a month the team-minded Winders is simply just looking forward to getting back out on court with her fellow, Magic teammates.

 

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Netball fantasy teams: 1999 World Cup All-Stars v. 2015 World Cup All-Stars

OVER the years there have been some a-class players grace the court with them all coming together at the most coveted event in the netball calendar. With so many influential players from varying countries Draft Central has made a team from the 1999 World Cup and 2015 World Cup compiled of star players from the respective tournament.

1999 World Cup team:

GK: Liz Ellis (AUS)
GD: Kathryn Harby-Williams (AUS)
WD: Carissa Tombs (AUS)
C: Julie Seymour (NZL)
WA: Tracey Neville (ENG)
GA: Vicki Wilson (AUS)
GS: Irene Van Dyk (RSA)
BENCH: Sharelle McMahon (AUS), Nadine Bryan (JAM), Sonia Mkoloma (ENG)

Five different nations feature in the 1999 World Cup team with Australia holding a few extra places in the squad after taking out the gold medal. It is no surprise that goal keeper Liz Ellis gets the nod with the Australian defender putting her best foot forward throughout the 1999 World Cup. Her court coverage is impressive with the 183cm defender able to swat away any balls that came her way and propel it back down the court. Joining partner in crime is Kathryn Harby-Williams with the goal defence impressing with her hands over pressure and ability to take a timely intercept thanks to her vision and anticipation.

In wing defence is Australian Diamonds representative Carissa Tombs. The centre court player knows how to block her opponent with her quick footwork and clever body positioning around the circle edge. Through the midcourt versatile Silver Fern, Julie Seymour takes out the centre position. Renowned for her defensive pressure and no-nonsense approach Seymour starred across the court and was more than capable to deliver perfectly weighted passes into the goalers. Tracey Neville could move between both wing attack and goal attack and given the star power throughout the 1999 World Cup found herself out in wing attack in this team. She is crafty with ball in hand and can find space with ease.

Moving into the circle it is headlined by none other than shooting sensation Irene Van Dyk. Although she is more renowned for her time with the Silver Ferns, Van Dyk took charge for the Spar Proteas in 1999 with the goaler able to slot them with ease. Her fancy footwork and accuracy to post is what makes her so hard to stop, able to command the ball and score truly. In at goal attack is Diamonds goaler Vicki Wilson who made her presence felt in the gold medal match with her attacking intent and desire to go to post.

On the bench is Sharelle McMahon who made her World Cup debut in 1999 and proved to be a key cog for the Diamonds attacking unit while Jamaican midcourter Nadine Bryan and England defender Sonia Mkoloma round out the team.

2015 World Cup team:

GK: Laura Geitz (AUS)
GD: Casey Kopua (NZL)
WD: Renae Ingles (AUS)
C: Laura Langman (NZL)
WA: Kim Green (AUS)
GA: Maria Folau (NZL)
GS: Mwai Kumwenda (MAL)
BENCH: Caitlin Bassett (AUS), Erin Burger (RSA), Geva Mentor (ENG)

The team is top heavy in Diamonds players, thanks to Australia taking out the gold medal at the World Cup and Silver Ferns notching up the runners-up trophy. Defensively the 2015 team is quite strong with former Australian Diamonds captain Laura Geitz taking out the goal keeper position given her dominance and impressive on-court leadership. Her ability to make something out of nothing and use her long limbs to get hands to ball made her simply unstoppable throughout the tournament. Joining her down back is Silver Ferns defender Casey Kopua with the goal defence well recognised for her intercepting skill and go-go gadget arms to pick off errant passes.

In the midcourt it is hard to go past the likes of Laura Langman with the talented centre able to run all day and all night. Her endurance base is second to none and is a real barometer for the Ferns with her gut running, impressive ball handling skills and sheer athleticism. The wing defence position goes to Renae Ingles with the quick footed defender able to cover the court with ease and use her speed off the mark to force turnovers. Moving into wing attack is Diamond Kim Green, the electric wing attack simply sliced through the defence with her pin point passes and impressive balance around the circle. Throw in her speed off the mark and dynamic change of direction and Green was an easy choice.

New Zealand specialty long bomb shooter Maria Folau impressed throughout the 2015 campaign with her cool, calm and collected mentality at the forefront of her game play. She is light on her feet and can sink them from anywhere in the circle such is her accuracy and range.  Malawian goal shooter, Mwai Kumwenda took the competition by storm with her accuracy to post and unconventional style of play. The flamboyant goaler showcased her aerial ability throughout the 2015 campaign starring time and time again with her strong hands and balance.

Rounding out the bench is current Diamonds captain Caitlin Bassett while South African midcourter Erin Burger is also amongst the mix. The final spot on the bench goes to England Roses star and talented defender Geva Mentor.

Who would win?

Both sides are littered with a host impressive players that are renowned for their game changing abilities and dynamic movement and while it is difficult to decide which team would have more of a competitive edge the 2015 side has that extra touch of class. With stars on the bench the 2015 squad oozes depth and star power with each player able to burst onto the court and have a profound impact.

Netball World Cups 16 years apart, who wins?
1999 NWC All-Stars
2015 NWC All-Stars
Created with QuizMaker

Who will be world number one by the end of 2021?

DESPITE not winning the past two major tournaments in the netball calendar Australia still sit pretty at number one in the world rankings. Last year, arch rivals New Zealand pipped Australia at the post with a thrilling one goal win at the Liverpool World Cup while England also reigned supreme in 2018, crushing Australian hearts in the gold medal match of the Commonwealth Games with a one goal victory. While international netball is uncertain at the moment given the COVID-19 outbreak, expect plenty of a-class clashes between the top nations when it returns. But with so much player development and new coaching techniques coming through, the top spot could change in the next twelve to eighteen months. Who will be number one netballing nation by the end of 2021?

Australia: 207 rating

With the number one spot sewn up, the Diamonds are primed to continue their reign at the top of the netball ladder. They are almost 30 points ahead of their next competitor showcasing their sheer ability to dominate opposition countries and win comfortably. The Diamonds are renowned for their clinical style of play and will be hoping to extend their lead over the other nations and hold onto top spot for years to come. The next layer of young up and coming players such as Jamie-Lee Price, Maddy Turner and Sarah Klau are already filtering through the camp giving the Diamonds plenty of hope for the future. The Diamonds have a couple of aces up their sleeve to remain at the top of the ladder with goaling sensation, Gretel Bueta one of them. Bueta has taken the world by storm with her explosiveness and unpredictability both under the post and across the court while the likes of Liz Watson and Courtney Bruce have become staples in the line-up.

New Zealand: 179 rating

Fresh off a World Cup win, the Ferns have well and truly re-established themselves as a netball powerhouse. After undergoing somewhat of a rebuild in 2018, the Ferns look bigger and better than previous years with stars across the court. According to the current international netball world rankings the Silver Ferns are just ahead of England but are still a distance away from the top of the table Diamonds, though that will not stop them from taking a swipe at the coveted position. Unfortunately, the Ferns have already said goodbye to some fan favourites in Maria Folau and Casey Kopua who have been key contributors for ten-plus years given their on court prowess and sheer dominance, while it could be argued that veteran Laura Langman is on her last legs, meaning the Ferns will have to strike soon if they are to take out that prime position. Under the guidance of Noeline Taurua the Ferns have developed into a formidable outfit renowned for their discipline and pin-point accuracy, something that will go a long way in helping their climb up the ladder, not to mention the wealth of depth they have coming up through the ranks in the ANZ Premiership.

England: 173 rating

With an ageing team, it is really now or never for the England Roses to reach the top and cement themselves an a-list team. They have well and truly found their form in the past couple of years taking out the 2018 Commonwealth Games and showcasing their impressive form throughout the Nations Cup. With a host of their stars and starting seven heading towards the twilight of their career such as Geva Mentor, Jo Harten and Serena Guthrie, the Roses will have to throw everything they have at New Zealand and Australia to make a serious assault on prime position in the world rankings. Only sitting two points behind the Ferns, England definitely have the firepower to overtake New Zealand and if they continue on their winning ways could take the crown from Australia.

Jamaica: 172 rating

The Sunshine Girls have come along in leaps and bounds thanks to a host of their players joining the likes of the Suncorp Super Netball, Vitality Netball Superleague and ANZ Premiership to help further develop their craft. It is almost unheard of to even consider Jamaica as a potential number one nation but it is not impossible given they are only one point behind England and have some key players that can single handedly change the course of a game. With towering and prolific shooters, Romelda Aiken and Jhaniele Fowler at their disposal, Jamaica could rise up the ranks or at least challenge those above them. Throw in highly touted and exciting young defender Shamera Sterling along with goaler Shimona Nelson and the Sunshine Girls have a very bright future which puts them in good stead to mix it with the best and take out the number one spot.

*Note: For a full breakdown of how rankings are established, check out the International Netball Federation rankings.

Up and coming players in the ANZ Premiership: Part 1

WITH the ANZ Premiership set to commence on June 19, netball fans around the world are gearing up for another eventful season. With Round 1 wins going to the reigning premiers Central Pulse along with the Northern Mystics and Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic expect the likes of Tactix, Stars and Steel to come out with a real fire in the belly. We take a look at one up and coming player from the first three teams and the potential impact they could have throughout the season if given more court time.

Northern Mystics: Grace Nweke

The young goal shooter will be hoping to leave an even bigger mark on the competition and continue her strong form. After gaining some valuable minutes last year, after being elevated from a training partner to a full-time member in Round 6, Nweke did not skip a beat. The soon to be 18-year-old is gearing up for another challenging but exciting year given the profound impact she had last season. Nweke wowed netball fans across the world with the 17-year-old oozing nothing but composure under the post, unfazed by the physicality of the likes of Silver Ferns greats Casey Kopua, Katrina Rore and Jane Watson.

Playing alongside Silver Ferns goaler Bailey Mes and fellow youngster Saviour Tui, Nweke will have to fight hard to keep her spot the court but the goal shooter is smart with ball in hand and can hit the scoreboard with ease. Expect Nweke to continue to blossom and single handily guide the Mystics to victory with her reliability under the post.

Her ability to consistently go to post and sheer athleticism makes her one of the most influential players in the Mystics line-up. After just one round this year, the goal shooter has already proven she is here to stay knocking back 40 goals at 93 per cent displaying her deadeye accuracy and unflappable temperament.

Northern Stars: Kate Burley

Back for another season at the Northern Stars, expect Burley to get some more court time. The talented defender had a relatively inconsistent season last year, struggling to get any real continuity given the presence of both Storm Purvis and Leana de Bruin down back. But with de Bruin retiring it could be time for the defender to step up to the plate and deliver. Her versatility to move between circle defence and wing defence gives her an extra element of class.

Standing at 181cm Burley uses her long limbs to force turnovers and position cleverly under the post to gobble up rebounds. Her netball smarts across the court makes her a valuable asset to the Stars while her clever footwork also sets her apart from fellow defenders.

With Round 1 done and dusted back in March, Burley proved that she has the stamina and commitment to run out a full game and create havoc racking up seven deflections, two pickups and one intercept.

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic: Holly Fowler

Fowler made the switch from the Northern Stars to the Magic in hope for some more court time and time to ply her trade on the netball court. Able to play in a variety of roles such as goal defence, wing defence and centre, Fowler is one of the most multi-talented netballers in the ANZ Premiership and will be hoping to prove her worth at her new club. Her go get it attitude and commitment to the contest puts her in good stead while her ability to read the play and force a turnover also makes her a promising prospect for the Magic.

2019 was an up and down year for the Magic, but the inclusion of the 22-year-old will give them that point of difference across the board. She is light on her feet and can hit the circle edge with ease. While in her preferred defensive positions, Fowler is strong over the shot and applies good pressure on the ball-carrier to block their vision.

She will be hoping to tidy up her penalties to ensure she stays in play for longer periods of time, but in her first outing for Waikato Bay the talented defender come centre court player managed two pick ups, one intercept and six deflections for her efforts.

International All-Stars players edition: George Fisher (Saracens Mavericks/England Roses)

CONTINUING our theme of All-Star teams, England Roses and Saracens Mavericks shooting dynamo, George Fisher compiled her own dream team. Take a look at her selections and reasoning behind each player.

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My All-Star Team:

George Fisher (Saracens Mavericks/England Roses)

When I was first asked to put together my All-Star team by Netball Draft Central, I was really excited at the prospect of completing this. However when I actually started to pick my team, I realised just how hard it was with the calibre of players past, present and coming through. I could have picked at least four for every position.

So this is what I ended up with, and I would so love to see this team perform for real!

I had to start with the legendary Irene Van Dyk. This decision pretty much speaks for itself, being one of the most capped international players of all time, with her flair, athleticism and by God the way she takes a ball, not to mention her accuracy at shot and her cool and calm attitude, I just couldn’t start with anyone else.

So joining Van Dyk in the D is none other than Jo Harten. Most people see her as a goal shooter but I really enjoy watching her out on court. She has so much flair and passion and the will to win. She is always someone you want on your side and paired with Van Dyk in the D, there will not be any loose balls that don’t end up in their hands, with trick passes, amazing catching and shot accuracy, this would be my dream shooting team.

So up next is wing attack. I really struggled with this position with the likes of Tamsin Greenway, Liz Watson, Nat Haythornthwaite, Bongiwe Msomi and Chelsea Pitman in the mix, but I’ve finally gone for Liana Leota, someone who I personally have thoroughly enjoyed watching over the past few years in the Vitality Superleague. Her court craft, game knowledge, leadership paired with her decision-making ability to land on edge of the D and deliver killer balls to the shooters make her my wing attack. And all this while being the mother to five children, what a total inspiration to all sportswomen!

We come to the centre and for me it’s always a toss-up between Serena Guthrie or Laura Langman to who will have which bib, centre or wing defence? I’ve put Langman as my centre as she is a total powerhouse. Strong, quick, able to bring the ball up court, feed the D with ease and bringing an air of calm to the whole team.

No team is complete without a Serena Guthrie – what a legend and not just for her on court ability. She would be in my wing defence bib for her never ending energy and grit on court to turn that ball over in any way possible. Watching her pick off balls, not just off the circle edge but all through court, with an athleticism that is unmatched is just incredible.

Now leading onto my goal defence, Casey Kopua. Her agility through the court at her height is phenomenal, matched with her ability to read the game and pull off interceptions is a game changer. Not only is she a danger out on court but her ability to sight turnovers in the D will put doubt into any feeder’s mind.

And goal keeper – again lots in the mix but came down to a choice of two, Laura Geitz or Geva Mentor to complete my team. For me it has to be Geva Mentor, strong, powerful, calm and a crucial interception maker. With her long reach and her elevation she puts doubt into the shooters’ mind and is a demon at taking those rebounds and paired with Kopua – what a total dream team.

So who’s on my bench! I’ve gone for a younger bench with players that have already made a massive mark on the international scene and I think are becoming total legends of our game. I’ve selected Maia Wilson as I thought she was outstanding at the Nations Cup and is really starting to hold down the front end for the Ferns. And up at the other end we have Shamera Sterling with her rangy frame and complete natural ability to play netball, she puts doubt in the feeders by confusing space so well and more often than not will come out with the ball. I also loved seeing her out at goal defence so two options in one. That leads me onto my final player Nat Haythornthwaite, not only does she have the fastest feet I have ever seen and a never give up attitude, she has the ability to nail the wing attack position but also step into the goal attack role seamlessly. Plus she is one of the nicest people I have ever met and helped me to grow into my shooting role at Wasps Superleague when I was just 17.

So that’s my All Star team! As I said before, it has been so hard to pick just the one player for each position due to the phenomenal past and present players that have influenced our game. 

Do you know what, I really love our sport. 

GEORGE FISHER’S ALL STARS

GS: Irene Van Dyk
GA: Jo Harten
WA: Liana Leota
C: Laura Langman
WD: Serena Guthrie
GD: Casey Kopua
GK: Geva Mentor

BENCH: Maia Wilson, Nat Haythornthwaite, Shamera Sterling

Compare the Pair: Casey Kopua and Jane Watson

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 New Zealand Silver Ferns defenders, Casey Kopua and Jane Watson.

With respective tenacity and a game-winning ability to match, the impressive force of Kopua and Rore saw a clean transition between the two players. Their intensity is astounding along with the constant pressing defence on the opposition, able to anticipate play down the court with ease. Both star performers in their own right, Kopua and Watson step up every time with flair and excitement to match, able to influence the play with ease and intensity. Both players have the undeniable versatility to be an influence in both defensive circle positions, a trait that makes both players the formidable defenders they are and have been on the international stage.

Debuting in 2005, Kopua impressed from the get-go with her constant pressure on both the ball and feeder, while her long arms spoke – and drew in – volumes, able to cherry pick crucial ball out of the air.  With an impressive work ethic and constant drive to succeed, the ex-captain was a key cog in defence collecting over 100 caps and coming out of retirement to play in the 2019 Netball World Cup, winning her first World Cup medal while she was at it. Renowned for her game-winning anticipation and impressive aerial ability.

Watson’s hunt in and around the circle allows her to be a constant threat out on court, able to be that threatening and influential goal keeper impacting off the body but also able to flip the switch and hang back, forcing errors from feeders with her ability to shadow her opposition. With stellar vision up the court, Watson has a great read of the play and falls in with her goal defender seamlessly, able to rotate the circle and apply hands over pressure on the shot with her aerial leap and impressive timing to deflect the ball. An explosive defender with a winning attitude, Watson is a crucial cog for the Ferns with her ability to turn over ball while her dynamic footwork and speed off the mark allow her to beat her opposition to the post and influence the play with ease.

Casey Kopua
112 caps, 2005-2019

Jane Watson
45 caps*, 2016-present

Which Silver Ferns defender would you pick?
Casey Kopua
Jane Watson