EVERY year the Rookie of the Year award in the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) is one that many look to as the player that has stepped up and been a massive influence on court. Inaugural winner Liz Watson has gone on to show how young guns can back up their first impressions with elite careers, and in 2020 there are no shortage of contenders. We take a look at those players who are purely eligible based on their age (23-years-old or younger at the start of the season), though as past seasons winners have shown, it is the player who has had the biggest improvement after either not playing, or rarely playing the year before. Nonetheless, we have picked out 13 players who statistically have really shone thus far.
Georgie Horjus (Thunderbirds)
STATS: 54 G, 72 A, 57 GA, 81 CPR, 71 F, 0 INT, 0 D, 4 P, 12 T
Shimona Nelson (Magpies)
STATS: 143 G, 157 A, 1 GA, 6 R, 0 CPR, 3 F, 1 INT, 0 D, 7 P, 14 T
Kiera Austin (GIANTS)
STATS: 47 G, 68 A, 68 GA, 3 R, 103 CPR, 104 F, 3 INT, 5 D, 26 P, 29 T (69)
Tippah Dwan (Firebirds)
STATS: 50 G, 69 A, 41 GA, 1 R, 73 CPR, 78 F, 1 INT, 1 D, 20 P, 19 T (72)
Alice Teague-Neeld (Fever)
STATS: 29 G, 52 A, 84 GA, 3 R, 78 CPR, 103 F 1 INT, 4 D, 13 P, 14 T (56)
In the attacking end of the court, it is no surprise to see of those eligible, the permanent goal shooter in Shimona Nelson having by far the most goals against the goal attacks, shooting 143 goals for the season thus far off four games at 35.75 goals per game. Her accuracy of 91 per cent is also the highest of the five contenders, and she leads the five players in rebounds as well with six.
Much maligned goal attack Alice Teague-Neeld is easily having her career-best season, and while her accuracy is still shaky at just 56 per cent (the lowest of the five), she is by far doing her job with feeding the ball into the towering presence that is Jhaniele Fowler. Teague-Neeld is remarkably second in the league for goal assists – 84 – with an average of 16.8 per game, second to only Watson. It is no surprise she is well ahead of the other four players here, and also has the equal second most rebounds (three).
Austin has the most versatility of the five players, swinging between the wing attack, goal attack and goal shooter position which makes it difficult for some continuity. A future Diamond in the circle, Austin is second in the goal assists from this list, and eighth in the competition. She is also the most looked for player of the five with 103 centre pass receives – but playing out at wing attack, it comes as no surprise considering the other four are pure goalers.
While the above three have started the season strongly, realistically the Rookie of the Year Award will go to a player that was basically unsighted last year in the SSN, and that leaves two in the goal circle: Georgie Horjus and Tippah Dwan.
Horjus has been a revelation this year as an 18-year-old coming off the 2019 National Netball Championship last season. She has the third most goal assists of the five, the second most centre pass receives, and the second highest accuracy (75 per cent). Considering her willingness to test herself with the Super Shot, that is a huge result and for many, Horjus is considered the favourite for the award overall. She is also 14th overall for goal assists with 57, meaning she has contributed to 111 goals this season for the Thunderbirds.
Her toughest competitor for the Rookie of the Year Award might be Dwan, who coming off a broken foot has benefited from the extra preseason. With Gretel Bueta out for the season, Dwan has stepped up and is one of the most comfortable Super Shot scorers out there. She is third on this list for goals marginally behind Horjus, and does have the least goal assists, but has the most time on court from a Training Partner this season, showing her importance for the team.
Maisie Nankivell (Thunderbids)
STATS: 42 GA, 15 CPR, 101 F, 6 INT, 5 D, 42 P, 9 T
Hannah Petty (Thunderbirds)
STATS: 28 GA, 2CPR, 53 F, 3 INT, 1 D, 16 P, 12 T
Amy Parmenter (GIANTS)
STATS: 1 GA, 15 CPR, 2 F, 15 INT, 24 D, 61 P, 8 T
Jess Anstiss (Fever)
STATS: 24 GA, 13 CPR, 41 F, 5 INT, 5 D, 29 P, 6 T
The past two years midcourters have won the Rookie of the Year Award, and both those players are eligible in 2020. There is no clause to say a past winner cannot salute for the title, though as above, it is unlikely to be given to a player that has already established themselves in their side’s starting seven prior to the season commencing.
Nonetheless, those two are Amy Parmenter and Jess Anstiss, with the 2018 winner in Anstiss having a solid start to the year with the second least penalties on this list, and the least turnovers, showing clean hands by the Fever wing defence. Parmenter has not quite backed up her 2019 form, but she is leading the quartet of midcourt contenders with the most intercepts (15) which puts her at three per game, a remarkable feat. She does have the most penalties by far with 61, at just over 12 per match.
On form alone, the biggest contender for the award from the midcourt section should be Maisie Nankivell who forwent playing in the AFL Women’s competition with Adelaide to focus on her netball. She has provided the most goal assists (42) and feeds (101), as well as having the equal most centre pass receives, which is a good effort for a player who is predominantly a centre. Her teammate Hannah Petty is the other contender, having only played the four games, but being productive with 53 feeds for 28 assists. She has had the most turnovers of the quarter though (12), but the least penalties (16), and the least time for the season thus far. While Nankivell might be the top pick of the midcourters, expect the award to go to a player at either end of the court if the current form continues from the contenders.
Kate Eddy (Vixens)
STATS: 4 GA, 1 R, 18 CPR, 4 F, 9 INT, 8 D, 33 P, 8 T
Tara Hinchliffe (Firebirds)
STATS: 0 GA, 4 R, 2 CPR, 0 F, 5 INT, 14 D, 55 P, 1 T
Kim Jenner (Firebirds)
STATS: 0 GA, 9 R, 26 CPR, 0 F, 11 INT, 25 D, 74 P, 4 T
Sunday Aryang (Fever)
STATS: 0 GA, 1 R, 8 CPR, 0 F, 4 INT, 9 D, 21 P, 2 T
Lauren Moore (Swifts)
STATS: 0 GA, 4 R, 15 CPR, 0 F, 15 INT, 15 D, 84 P, 6 T
Queensland Firebirds’ Kim Jenner will be the test as to whether or not the Rookie of the Year award is just that – a player who is playing their first season – or a player that is still eligible due to being 23-years-old or younger at the start of the season. Jenner was a starting seven player last year for the league’s bottom side, and while she impressed, she has taken her game to another level in 2020. Of the four potential contenders in the defenders section, Jenner is second in intercepts with 11 and leads rebounds (nine) and deflections (25). Make no mistake, if the award comes down to the best player that is eligible by age, then Jenner should be the front runner. She has the most penalties (74) of any of the four contenders, but has a big job each and every week teaming up with Tara Hinchliffe in the defensive circle.
Speaking of Hinchliffe, she is not too far behind with five intercepts, four rebounds and 14 deflections, ranked third, second and second in those categories of the four players. Like Jenner, playing that permanent defensive goal circle role, she has a high amount of penalties compared to the others (55), but has the least turnovers of any player – just one for the season.
Kate Eddy is another player eligible by age in season 2020, and her versatility is what sets her aside. Like Jenner and Hinchliffe, Eddy has been a member of the starting seven in past years, though for the Swifts instead of the now Vixens lineup. She has been one of the Vixens crucial players in 2020, and is the only one of the four defenders to have goal assists to her name (four). She does have the most turnovers (eight), but is also playing further up the court more often than not, so it makes sense. Her intercepts (nine) are ranked third on this list.
Another player who has developed in spades with the Swifts is Lauren Moore, with the defender coming into 2020 fit as a fiddle after struggling with injury last season and getting crucial court-time to prove her worth with Maddy Turner out of action in the opening rounds. The tenacious defender has great anticipation to lead the overall intercept tally for the competition with 15, cleanly getting hands to ball time and time again, although she does also lead this defensive group for penalties.
Finally, the player who the definition of Rookie of the Year is designed for – Sunday Aryang. Playing the one game last season, the Ethiopian talent has been a revelation on court in the absence of Courtney Bruce at times, and then still getting minutes when she is back. She has spent the third most amount of minutes on-court of SSN training partners, with 33.2 minutes per match on average behind only Dwan and Horjus. She is third on the list for deflections with nine, and has the least penalties (21) and second least turnovers (two), which makes her clean with her ball use and reliable in the danger zone on court.
While there is still more than half the season to go in terms of their starts, Horjus, Dwan and Aryang are the top contenders from the ‘Rookies’ category, with Jenner and Moore the clear standouts if looking at pure eligibility.