Tag: emily mannix

2020 SSN: Season preview – Melbourne Vixens

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 Melbourne Vixens up next on the list. 

Coach: Simone McKinnis
Captain: Kate Moloney
2019 finish: 3rd

A solid season culminated in a finals berth for the Vixens, with a close miss in 2018 pushing the side to the next level in 2019. With a quality pickup over the 2019 off-season in Caitlin Thwaites – along with South African talent Ine-Mari Venter – the Vixens lifted their intensity and pressure last year and were ultimately uninterrupted in their connections and season bar the break in the middle of the season for the Netball World Cup. The return of Mwai Kumwenda from injury added an extra string to the Vixens’ bow, with the Malawi goal shooter rotating seamlessly with Thwaites and Tegan Philip. Meanwhile, the hardworking midcourt of the Vixens worked wonders, though their predictability left something to be desired when it came to finals time, unable to compete off the bench as easily as some of their opposition could.

2020 predictions/expectations:

Well equipped to take advantage of the two goal super shot thanks to the versatile shooting trio of Thwaites, Kumwenda and Philip, the Vixens will hope to go one better than last year. While they lost Venter, young gun Lara Dunkley and powerhouse wing defence Renae Ingles over the off-season, the Vixens have more than enough talent to replace them, it is more about whether they have had the time to forge the connections needed to go far this season. Young talent Tayla Honey had a shaky start in 2018 with injury putting off her first season at SSN level, but she is back in business this season and surely raring to go. Joining an already quality midcourt of Liz Watson and Kate Moloney, the Vixens are not short of talent and experience making them a real force to be reckoned with. The Vixens will be hoping to build off their bench a bit more to provide a constant buffer and pressure through the contest. There is no denying that the Vixens have been a top team throughout the SSN and will be eager to assert themselves on the competition once again with their ability to treasure ball in offence and win ball back in defence. 

Key player to watch:

Kate Eddy is a quality pickup for the Melbourne side, which had a gaping hole at the end of last season given Ingles’ imminent retirement. Her versatility will allow her to slot in where required, likely playing in wing defence but with an ability to rotate further back with Emily Mannix and Jo Weston. With a season under her belt at the Swifts in 2019, Eddy has proved her growth defensively to provide a quality rotation through all three defensive positions. While she did not play in the 2019 grand final thanks to injury, the talented defender adjusted well to the top level and more than handled the job of holding down attackers. What’s more, Eddy is a former Vixens training partner meaning she already has forged connections with a number of players, something that will certainly come in handy given the side’s lack of time together prior to the season starting.

Team list:

Kate Moloney
Tegan Philip
Liz Watson
Caitlin Thwaites
Emily Mannix
Jo Weston
Kadie-Ann Dehaney
Mwai Kumwenda
Tayla Honey
Kate Eddy

Who could lead SSN stats in 2020?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top 15 SSN training partners: #7 Jacqui Newton

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 (SSN) plate in 2020. Sitting at number seven on the countdown is Melbourne Vixens training partner Jacqui Newton. This countdown is purely opinion-based, taking into consideration 2019 form, individual potential and future development.

At only 23, Newton has already tasted success thanks to her defensive prowess and impressive skillset. In 2018 the interchangeable goal keeper, goal defender played in the grand final and took out the premiership title in the Victorian Netball League (VNL) with the City West Falcons. She followed up those efforts, going one better in 2019 helping to guide the Victorian Fury to title glory in the Australian Netball League (ANL).

Her ability to have a profound impact at both levels of netball is a testament to her commitment while her desire for success and to push herself further shows her dedicated mentality. She is not afraid to put her body on the line and throw herself at the ball passing by. Newton is an exciting player to watch, quick on her feet and offers consistency when on court. Standing at 185cm she is not the tallest defender but makes up for it with tenacity and quick footwork to get around the body of her opponents and remain in the hunt for the ball.

Newton has had limited exposure to the Suncorp Super Netball level playing just a couple of games but is yet to really crack into the market and showcase her array of talents. Surrounded by the likes of Australian Diamonds duo Jo Weston and Emily Mannix, Newton is aware of the workload and defensive attributes needed to make a splash at international level. Throw in Jamaican up and coming star Kadie-Ann Dehaney and Newton has no shortage of defensive masterminds to learn from, when it comes to perfecting her craft whether it be pressure over the shot or movement inside the circle.

While she is still developing, Newton has showed that she can hold her own up against some talented young guns in the ANL. The more suited goal defence is light on her feet, able to dart around the court and put in the blocks at the top of the circle to stop her opposing shooter from entering the circle with ease. She works hard on transition, constantly looking to re-offer across the court and bring the ball down to deliver to the attackers. Her strong ball movement and accuracy with ball in hand also puts her in good stead for a potential step up to SSN level.

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)
#7 Jacqui Newton (Melbourne Vixens)

What if… SSN doesn’t happen in 2020?

WITH the 2020 Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) season postponed until June 30 due to the COVID-19 outbreak there are many question marks surrounding the competition and whether it will actually go ahead at all. Last year marked one of the biggest years of netball with a host of new players joining the SSN to bolster line-ups and bring a more international flavour to the respective teams. The New South Wales Swifts broke their premiership drought with a convincing win over two-time premiership winners Sunshine Coast Lightning. While the season was filled with plenty of intrigue the off season also drew plenty of attention with multiple a-list players retiring and new players entering the system making for an action packed 2020.

So what if SSN does not return in 2020? Who might not return? And what happens to the international players that have returned home but are still signed with SSN clubs?

No netball in 2020 could have a huge impact on the sport itself as it was only just becoming recognised as a professional sport in Australia thanks to the leaps and bounds of SSN in regards to salaries. Many teams across the competition have taken huge strides forward in developing facilities that are adequate to create high performance environments for athletes to train in. Players have already been subjected to a 70 per cent cut in their salary due to the outbreak and may suffer further if the season does not go ahead which is becoming a very real possibility given the importance of public and player safety.

In terms of players it also means we won’t see the likes of new recruits Jodi-Ann Ward and Julia Woolley take the court for the first time since entering the league while the return of injured star Madi Browne and youngsters, Tayla Honey and Teigan O’Shannassy will be postponed until next year if the season does not commence. It also begs the question of retirements. When Geva Mentor joined Collingwood at the end of 2017, the England Roses goal keeper signed a two-year deal to see her in the black and white something that could quite easily come to an end if this season does not ahead.  While we are saying in no means that the highly touted defender is ready for retirement given her uncanny ability to force turnovers and create havoc down back, it is a possibility. Other massive question marks loom around the likes of Caitlin Thwaites who recently retired from international duties, and Laura Langman who signed a one-year deal late in the year last year. Could Thwaites retire if the season does not go ahead? Would Langman return to New Zealand? As a netball spectator, I hope not.

In fact, most of the SSN players are only on contracts for 2020. The least impacted teams if the season was called off would be GIANTS Netball with six players, including shooting trio, Caitlin Bassett, Jo Harten and Kiera Austin all signed up for 2021, as is Rising Star, Amy Parmenter. West Coast Fever have four players – Courtney Bruce, Jhaniele Fowler, Jess Anstiss and Alice Teague-Neeld – on board until 2021, while the Vixens’ Emily Mannix and Kate Moloney, and Swifts’ Helen Housby have also signed deals to take them through until the end of next year. Four sides – Adelaide Thunderbirds, Collingwood Magpies, Queensland Firebirds and Sunshine Coast Lightning have not re-signed anyone for the 2021 season to-date.

There are a number of international players on the rosters at each and every club in the SSN with some of the players deciding to stay here in Australia while the outbreak is trying to be managed and others opting to return to their homeland. The likes of South African goaling duo Lenize Potgieter and Ine-Mari Venter both returned home to be with their families but are still contracted to their respective clubs in Adelaide Thunderbirds and Queensland Firebirds. Thus, if the season does kick off at the designated start date it begs the question of whether or not these players will be eligible to return to the country, let alone play in the SSN.

In an update released by the Canberra Times, Suncorp Super Netball chief executive Chris Symington said the competition still intended to go ahead, but where or when was still yet to be decided.

“We are still working to get an understanding of what’s possible from a logistical point of view and also what’s achievable for our teams and our broadcaster,” Symington said. “Given the nature of the sport there is the ability to potentially play mid week so you could condense and run a shorter version of the season – so the same amount of matches but over a shorter time frame. “That could halve our time frame to eight weeks because you could also look at packaging our three weeks of finals into one weekend or sudden death playoffs so that’s also on the table.”

Another suggestion mooted was a World Cup style netball competition played over a couple of months, condensed down.

“That’s something we could potentially do and capture as much content as we could in that time-frame without placing too much load on the athletes,” Symington said. “They would probably all go to a single location – where that is is anyone’s guess at this stage. “But you could take all teams to a single location as you would for a World Cup … and you play a tournament style with multiple matches within a short period of time. “That’s a last resort based on timing toward the end of the year.”

What do you think will happen with the 2020 Suncorp Super Netball season?
Cancelled - will return in 2021
Season will start in July as planned
Postponed season - World Cup style competition

Draft Central’s Top 25 International Young Guns countdown – #9/#8

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 25 players under 25-years-old across the netball world. Moving into the top 10 is a couple of former Melbourne Vixens teammates Kadie-Ann Dehaney and Ine-Mari Venter. With so much talent at our disposal, this countdown is purely opinion-based, taking into consideration recent form, individual potential and future development.

Coming in at nine is Kadie-Ann Dehaney with the Jamaican defender taking her game to another level in recent months. Dehaney has showcased that she can be an impact player able to burst onto the court and cause her havoc with her long limbs and ball winning skills. Her aerial presence is a key feature of her game able to get up to the high balls and create turnovers or take impressive intercepts. Although costly at times when it comes to penalties, Dehaney works hard to create pressure with her hands over pressure and quick feet to confuse the space. Her connection with both Emily Mannix and Jo Weston enables her to go out hunting for cross-court balls and stop the ball from coming into the circle. Although she does not record a lot of court time for the Vixens, she displays enough skill to earn herself a consistent spot in the Sunshine Girls line-up. Her ability to have an impact at an international level and ply her trade up against some of the worlds best netballers is credit to her high netball IQ and desire to have an impact on the court.

Much like Dehaney, Ine-Mari Venter has struggled to register court time in Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) but has shown that she has plenty to offer with her well-timed drives, strong hands and spatial awareness. Discovering a new position in 2019 pushed out to goal attack, Venter added another string to her bow. The typical goal shooter showcased her ability to feed the ball into the circle and transition the ball down the court throughout last season while also backing herself in the goal circle. Although she does not put up a wealth of shots, her accuracy and precise movement in the circle is what makes her such an exciting prospect both at SSN level but so too for the Spar Proteas. The 192cm shooter is a real threat to be reckoned with, thanks to her strong holds, nifty footwork and ability to change up her game style. Coming into the prime of her career at 25, Venter has learnt off some of the best such as Caitlin Thwaites at the Vixens and Lenize Potgieter at an international level and will want to make herself a permanent fixture in the Proteas starting line-up.

_

Top 25 so far:

25. Latanya Wilson (Jamaica)
24. Summer Artman (England)
23. Sophie Drakeford-Lewis (England)
22. Matilda Garrett (Australia)
21. Razia Quashie (England)
20. Sophie Garbin (Australia)
19. Imogen Allison (England)
18. Kelly Jury (New Zealand)
17. Tara Hinchliffe (Australia)
16. Aliyah Dunn (New Zealand)
15. Whitney Souness (New Zealand)
14. Amy Parmenter (Australia)
13. Cara Koenen (Australia)
12. Kate Eddy (Australia)
11. Kiera Austin (Australia)
10. Grace Nweke (New Zealand)
9. Kadie-Ann Dehaney (Jamaica)
8. Ine-Mari Venter (South Africa)

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

Melbourne Vixens impress with back-to-back wins in Trans-Tasman Challenge

THE Trans-Tasman Challenge brought plenty of intrigue with both the Melbourne Vixens reigning supreme against ANZ Premiership sides, Northern Stars and Northern Mystics. The tournament proved to be a good opportunity for new recruits and young up and coming players to get some court time and iron out any issues ahead of the season.

Northern Mystics (51) defeated by Melbourne Vixens (61)

The Vixens made no mistake against the Mystics with a strong showing across the ditch. The battle between Mystics goal shooter Grace Nweke and goal keeper Kadie-Ann Dehaney lived up to the hype with the two renowned for their aerial ability but in the end it was the Vixens full court defence that paid dividends limiting any easy entrance into the goal circle. Former Swift, Kate Eddy got her time to shine on the big stage and made no mistake in her new dress using her hands over pressure, quick footwork and deceptive speed consistently throughout the Trans-Tasman Challenge. She paired well with Emily Mannix and Jo Weston down back with the trio working well to cause confusion and run out with an easy 10-goal win 61-51.

Northern Stars (44) defeated by Melbourne Vixens (71)

In their second game of the Trans-Tasman Challenge the Melbourne Vixens really showed who’s boss, flexing their muscles at every turn against a depleted Stars team with a whopping 27-goal victory. They were simply too good across the court with their precise ball movement and strong connections. Recovering from an Achilles injury midcourter Tayla Honey rose to the occasion with her quick ball movement, drive to the top of the circle and transition play while veteran Caitlin Thwaites found herself out of position in goal attack. The 33-year-old paired seamlessly with the likes of Mwai Kumwenda in the goal circle with the two rotating well and most importantly shooting accurately. Youngster Sacha McDonald also got her time to shine with the goaler making her presence felt under the post with her silky movement, accuracy to post and impressive timing. They seemed no match for the Stars defensive end with Oceane Maihi and Kate Burley struggling to combat their experience.

Vixens, assistant coach, Sharelle McMahon was pleased with the natural progression of the side over the weekend and their ability to combat the New Zealand style defence.

“It’s been a great trip from yesterday to today the girls have taken a step up which has been really nice,” she said on the Vixens’ website. “I think the way they brought the ball through court, probably just getting our heads around the zone defence and that different style of marking was a little bit better today.”

In the absence of Tegan Philip the Vixens resorted to a different attacking line-up, one in which McMahon believes will set her side in good stead heading into the 2020 Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) season.

“They coped really well today with all the different changes and that’s going to be important for the season because of our rolling subs, we need to get our heads around being able to come on and off so that’s been really good,” she said.

While it was good to get early wins on the board the assistant coach is more focused on trying out new connections and creating a cohesive group of players.

“I think for us we wanted to get a lot of different things out of this trip part of it was combinations, part of it was just working into things but we want to be successful every time we step out,” she said. “To have those two wins against some really tough opposition was really great.”

Bushfire Relief – Surprise packets

WITH the Australian Diamonds and Suncorp Super Netball All-Stars list finalised for their Australian Bushfire Relief game we take a look at two surprise packets or up and coming players for each side.

Australian Diamonds:

Kiera Austin:

The talented goaler has plenty to offer and while she does not have experience on her side she has excitement and youth as a touted future Diamonds star. Having played with the GIANTS expect the goaler to have a strong connection with Australian captain, Caitlin Bassett making for a dynamic duo in the goal circle. Austin is a very versatile player able to move between the shooting circle and wing attack with ease, making her a crucial player for the Diamonds. She is a confidence player who will grow as the match goes on and has proven that she is not afraid to back herself from range in the circle.

Maddy Turner:

Only still developing her defensive craft, the New South Wales Swift defender will be hoping to have an immediate impact when on court. Her connection with fellow defender Sarah Klau will go a long way with the two able to rotate in the circle with ease and apply a wealth of pressure. She is a real excitement machine with her aerial ability and skill to cover the court with ease. Turner is a more tagging style of defender but has proven that she can change up her game plan and hunt the ball rather than nullify her opponent. Her lean over the shot and read of the play makes her a constant threat across the court; pair that with her determination and Turner could be the difference on court.

SSN All-Stars:

Kristiana Manu’a:

Arguably one of the surprise packets of the All-Stars team with the 24-year-old defender really coming into her own in 2019. She offers plenty of athleticism and physicality in the goal circle thanks to her tenacious attitude. Manu’a is not the tallest player but works hard across the court to cover her opponent and shadow their every move. She is a real competitor and always gives 100 per cent making her an exciting prospect for the All-Stars. The typical goal defence can be used as an impact player, able to inject some speed and defensive pressure into the backend while her offensive efforts are just as impressive working hard to bring the ball down the court.

Gabi Simpson:

This will be a chance for the hardworking and highly skilful wing defence to once again prove herself against the best of the best in hope to reclaim a spot in the Diamonds. The Firebirds midcourter oozes sheer athleticism with her impressive leap and speed off the mark making her a handy inclusion in the All-Star team. Simpson has struggled for consistency over the last season and will be hoping to announce herself in this contest with her smothering defensive pressure and quick feet. She clogs up space in the attacking third and is not afraid to hunt the ball time and time again while her connection with the likes of Emily Mannix and Kate Moloney from their time in the Diamonds could pay dividends in trying to topple the current list.

Netball Bushfire Relief teams announced in all-star clash

THE teams every netball fan in Australia has been waiting for were announced early today, with the Australian Diamonds taking on a Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) All-Stars side to raise money for bushfire relief across the nation. The Diamonds side is largely the same as its Constellation Cup outfit, with recently retired Caitlin Thwaites named, and Caitlin Bassett and Liz Watson chosen as captain and vice-captain respectively. The only difference is the inclusion of GIANTS Netball’s Kiera Austin who provides the versatility in the front half of the court. Steph Wood was unavailable for selection.

The SSN All-Stars side, coached by the two New South Wales leaders – where the match will be held (Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney) – is a stacked team with the likes of Jamaican Jhaniele Fowler, and English goalers, Jo Harten and Helen Housby in the circle. In defence, Geva Mentor and Karla Pretorius will undoubtedly provide great leadership for Shamera Sterling, while Laura Langman and Kate Moloney will headline a strong midcourt. Draft Central will provide in a detailed analysis on the teams, as well as a preview for the match ahead of the March 1 date.

The match will be played at 1pm on March 1,  with tickets starting at $10 on sale from midday tomorrow, Thursday January 30.

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AUSTRALIAN DIAMONDS:

Coach: Lisa Alexander

Caitlin Bassett (c) (GIANTS Netball)
Liz Watson (vc) (Melbourne Vixens)
Kiera Austin (GIANTS Netball)
Ash Brazill (Collingwood Magpies)
Courtney Bruce (West Coast Fever)
Paige Hadley (NSW Swifts)
Sarah Klau (NSW Swifts)
Tegan Philip (Melbourne Vixens)
Jamie-Lee Price (GIANTS Netball)
Laura Scherian (Sunshine Coast Lightning)
Caitlin Thwaites (Melbourne Vixens)
Gretel Tippett (Queensland Firebirds)
Maddy Turner (NSW Swifts)
Jo Weston (Melbourne Vixens)

SUNCORP SUPER NETBALL:

Coaches: Briony Akle (NSW Swifts) & Julie Fitzgerald (GIANTS Netball)

Jhaniele Fowler (West Coast Fever)
Jo Harten (GIANTS Netball)
Nat Haythornthwaite (NSW Swifts)
Helen Housby (NSW Swifts)
Laura Langman (Sunshine Coast Lightning)
Emily Mannix (Melbourne Vixens)
Kristiana Manu’a (GIANTS Netball)
Geva Mentor (Collingwood Magpies)
Kate Moloney (Melbourne Vixens)
Chelsea Pitman (Adelaide Thunderbirds)
Karla Pretorius (Sunshine Coast Lightning)
Gabi Simpson (Queensland Firebirds)
Shamera Sterling (West Coast Fever)
Sam Wallace (NSW Swifts)