Tag: jo weston

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

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

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

Australia/New Zealand:

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

BENCH: Gretel Bueta, Gina Crampton, Jo Weston

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

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

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

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

Rest of the world:

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

BENCH:  Lenize Potgieter, Chelsea Pitman, Shamera Sterling,

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

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

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

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

Who would win?

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

Memorable Matches: Roses make history with 2018 Commonwealth Games gold

WITH netball taking a back seat to the coronavirus in 2020, Draft Central is taking a look at memorable matches in world netball history. Next up is England’s inaugural Commonwealth Games gold, defeating Australia by one goal on home soil in 2018.

A memorable match for many Aussies – and not in a good way, the 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medal match was one for the ages as England quite literally pipped Australia at the post to reign supreme. While Australia led the competition in majority of the stats, this was England’s opportunity to topple to Diamonds for the first time and they were not about to let their greatest gold medal chance slip away. England may have been the underdogs, playing in their first ever Commonwealth Games gold medal match, but it was that goal which saw the Roses turn it out on Australian soil.

With ultimately one of the greatest lineups England has ever hand – perhaps only rivalled by their current list – they were just too strong for the overconfident Diamonds who faltered at the final hurdle and could not compete with the tenacious Roses when it came down to the nitty-gritty. For the Diamonds, the match came down to extensive rotations which the side had dealt with throughout the entire tournament. The Roses however came in with a different mindset, only rotating as they saw fit and able to form a consistent barrier against the formidable Aussies. 

It was an even start by both teams, with neither team really able to find much momentum such was the impact all 14 players were having on court. The two sides were evenly matched with both goal keepers in Laura Geitz and Geva Mentor forming tough barriers in their respective circles. Mentor racked up a whopping 12 gains throughout the match, putting on a clinic with her cleanliness and the ease with which she found the ball, using goal shooter Caitlin Bassett’s consistency against her. Geitz and April Brandley were solid as ever, fairly clean in their defence and finding plenty of loose ball. 

While Australia started out clean, not finding much whistle, the two sides evened up as the match went on, seeing the Roses clean up their act and forcing errors from the Diamonds who seemed out of sorts with the closeness of the game – which saw both teams even at 25 goals apiece at half-time. Liz Watson entered the game to take on the likes of Serena Guthrie, providing some real gut-running against the star centre. While it took some pressure off the attack with Watson’s quick hands doing wonders, Guthrie’s overall athleticism is tough to overcome while her immense endurance saw the midcourter continue to ply her trade and propel the ball back up the court.

The Diamonds got back into the groove in the third but while they had the goals on the board, the side seemed out of sorts thanks to the constant pressure applied down the court from the Roses. That being said, Australia’s full court defensive pressure impressed with just the four goalers not picking up gains – but it was the constant changing of goalers that seemed to work in England’s favour.

For the Roses, there were little changes throughout, with only some small impact options taking the court to ply their trade. Goalers, Jo Harten and Helen Housby were consistent from the start and had a couple of patches where their defenders were on top, namely the beginning of the first and third quarters thanks to Australia’s rotation for fresh feet in Courtney Bruce and Jo Weston, but ultimately continued to ply their trade and coming into the final quarter were well aware of what had to be done to win the game despite a slower third term.

Full credit has to be given to England’s final quarter effort, shooting 16 goals to overcome Australia’s three quarter time lead and forcing error upon error from the Diamonds. England was just much cleaner with ball in hand, treasuring possession where Australia seemed to throw away far more ball than their typical game. Australia all but fell apart in the final term, collecting a whopping 25 penalties – 22 contacts – compared to England’s 10 overall. When you compare that number to Australia’s seven penalties overall in the first quarter, it’s hard to not think of what could have been if the consistency had remained from the beginning to end.

It was a goal on the buzzer from Housby which cemented the win for England, making history as the Roses collected their first Commonwealth gold, well and truly earning the win against the reigning champions, 52-51. At the post, Harten topscored with 34 goals at 87 per cent accuracy, while Bassett was not quite as influential with 22 goals from 24 attempts – though she did miss out on the third quarter. Housby came in next with 18 goals while Steph Wood and Susan Pettitt shot 12 and 11 goals respectively to provide another option in the circle. 

The consistency of Gabi Simpson was impressive, with the athletic midcourt defender the only Aussie to play out the full 60 minutes. Simpson used every inch of her pressure to impact on the Roses’ ability to find the goal circle, impeding former Australian representative Chelsea Pitman from finding avenues to the ring and providing impressive speed and pressure up the court. Pitman racked up 18 goal assists from 28 feeds, while Watson was not far behind with 17 assists from 27, only having played the three quarters. Geitz racked up five gains in her half on court and was well and truly missed in the final quarter, while Simpson’s consistency and pressure saw her collect four gains and Guthrie three with her threatening speed.

AUSTRALIA 14 | 11 | 13 | 13 (51)
ENGLAND 13 | 12 | 11 | 16 (52)

Australia

GS: Caitlin Bassett
GA: Susan Pettitt
WA: Madi Robinson
C: Kim Ravaillion
WD: Gabi Simpson
GD: April Brandley
GK: Laura Geitz

BENCH: Caitlin Thwaites, Courtney Bruce, Liz Watson, Jo Weston, Steph Wood
COACH: Lisa Alexander

England

GS: Jo Harten
GA: Helen Housby
WA: Chelsea Pitman
C: Serena Guthrie
WD: Beth Cobden
GD: Eboni Usoro-Brown
GK: Geva Mentor

BENCH: Ama Agbeze, Nat Haythorthwaite, Jodie Gibson, Jade Clarke, Kadeen Corbin
COACH: Tracey Neville

SHOOTING STATS

Australia

Caitlin Bassett 22/24
Steph Wood 12/14
Susan Pettitt 11/12
Caitlin Thwaites 6/6

England

Jo Harten 34/39
Helen Housby 18/21

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

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

Australia & Jamaica (Diamond Girls)

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

BENCH: Caitlin Bassett, Adean Thomas, Courtney Bruce

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

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

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

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

New Zealand & England (Silver Roses)

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

BENCH: Helen Housby, Serena Guthrie, Jane Watson

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

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

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

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

Who would win?

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

Top 15 SSN training partners: #6 Allie Smith

WITH a number of netball leagues across the world being suspended due to COVID-19, the Draft Central team is making a case for the top 15 training partners stepping up to the Suncorp Super Netball plate in 2020. Coming in at number six is Melbourne Vixens midcourter, Allie Smith. This countdown is purely opinion-based, taking into consideration recent form, individual potential and future development.

A crucial midcourter through the star-studded Victorian Fury outfit which won the Australian Netball League premiership last season and having gone two from two with a Geelong Cougars premiership in the Victorian Netball League, Smith is well and truly used to the winning mentality. A talented speedster with quick feet and impressive agility, the Geelong product is only 20 years old with plenty of star power in the making. Typically a midcourt defender with the ability to drop back into the goal circle, Smith can also take on the centre bib when required to have an impact in attack, with her versatility certainly something the Vixens can build up to be a handy extra cog on court. 

Smith has plenty of potential with her timing and vision down the court, while her speed and constant pressure allows her to be a threat both inside and outside the goal circle. Coming from a defensive background, Smith is able to turn on the defensive gears up the court to turn over the ball with ease, using her speed and game smarts to chase down the loose ball and combine with defenders and attackers alike. Now in her second season training alongside the likes of Kate Moloney, Liz Watson and Jo Weston, Smith has plenty of opportunity to further develop her craft in the coming season.

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)
#6 Allie Smith (Melbourne Vixens)

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)

Compare the Pair: Liz Ellis and Courtney Bruce

THE next instalment in the Draft Central Compare the Pair series will aim to analyse two fan favourites from different Australian Diamonds eras, with the next showcasing Australian goal keepers, Liz Ellis and Courtney Bruce.

With tenacity, constant pressure and an ability to do the impossible, Ellis and Bruce are two threats on the international stage with plenty of hunt for the ball and creativity to get it. Their respective excitement-generating play has helped turn the tides of their teams over and over, while their anticipation to leap for the intercept or make that game-changing deflection has them both as household names for netball fans. While the two players have entirely different game styles, it’s their respective commitment to the game at hand that sets them apart, able to adjust depending on their opposition to continue to maintain control game after game.

Ellis is one of the best defenders the world has seen, and as a constant threatening force to be reckoned with in defence there is no surprise why that is. Her read of the play was impeccable while her rotation in the circle to drop back or go on the hunt is testament to her trust in her teammates to fall back and form a wall in defence. Her speed to turn over the ball was crucial for the Diamonds while her captaincy proved her strength on court as not just a player but leader as the most capped player in Australian netball history.

The ex-captain was a force to be reckoned with, always ready to take possession with her impressive closing speed and reach over the netball. Her ability to anticipate patterns and turn the game on its head allowed her to make the game her own, and with three world titles and two Commonwealth Games gold just at international level – not counting domestic achievements – Ellis will go down in history as one of the greatest players of all time.  

Courtney Bruce may not have the same number of caps but has well and truly proved herself in recent years with the Diamonds, forming a critical pairing with Jo Weston on the international stage where she can play that exciting intercepting role. With pressure and constant intensity to match, Bruce’s ability to anticipate the ball speeding down the court is crucial and paired with her speed off the mark she can create that defensive breathing room to propel the ball back up the court.

While Bruce does not have the Diamonds captaincy, her consistency and ability to turn over the ball sees her lead the West Coast Fever. Still only 26-years-old, Bruce has plenty left in the tank with her creativity sure to spark many a turnover for the Diamonds in the coming years. While her past year has been plagued by injury, Bruce will intend to be right as rain for the next year of international competition.

Liz Ellis
122 caps, 1993-2007

Courtney Bruce
33 caps*, 2017-present

Which goal keeper would you pick in their prime?
Liz Ellis
Courtney Bruce
Created with Quiz Maker

Top 10 players we’d like to see in the SSN: #10 – Joice Takaidza

THE Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) is already home to a number of international stars making it one of the strongest netball competitions in the world. However, we as the Draft Central team are creating a list of top 10 players we would like to see join the competition. Coming in at number 10 is Joice Takaidza.

The Zimbabwean goal shooter burst onto the international scene at the 2019 Netball World Cup in England. Takaidza is an unknown quantity but proved that she has a big bag of tricks able to mix it amongst the best and hold her own. Throughout the World Cup, Takaidza played against a host of A-list defenders in Australian duo Courtney Bruce and Jo Weston along with Silver Ferns stars Jane Watson and Phoenix Karaka. She was a key reason why her side progressed as far as they did in the World Cup with her sure-fire shooting and ability to hold space in the circle on full display. She racked up a whopping 198 goals throughout the World Cup taking out the leading scorer for the Gems and while she did not feature highly on the assists leaderboard with three she showcased her strength on the rebound with six offensive rebounds.

Takaidza took the competition by storm with her silky footwork, impressive balance and ability to hold under the post her main attributes. While she is still a raw prospect she has proved that further development at the highest level possible could help mold her into an exciting prospect for years to come. Already residing in Australia and living in a small country town in South Australia, Takaidza could be a key acquisition for an SSN club much like Peace Proscovia. Her split under the post and strength to consistently butter up and offer an option puts her in a good light while her ball handling skills are strong in the circle able to reel in any errant passes. Though she is not the quickest, her body positioning is what sets her up to be a commanding figure in the goal circle as shown in her time on court for Zimbabwe. Although she is not the most accurate shooter, her ability to put up a high volume of shots and remain a constant threat in the circle paints her as a key figure for any side and continued exposure to a high level of netball will further enhance her skillset.

Top 10 players we’d like to see in the SSN:

#10 Joice Takaidza (Zimbabwe)

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.

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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)

What if… Laura Geitz played in the last quarter of the Commonwealth Games?

THE 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medal loss is still etched in the memory of many Diamonds fans and players going down to the England Roses by a mere goal, 51-52. Roses sharp shooter, Helen Housby landed the final blow thanks to a shot after the whistle to gift her side their first gold medal in history. The Diamonds had a strong four-goal lead in the final term, before the tables started to turn and the Roses gathered momentum. Countering everything that Australia threw at them, tinkering their line-up and most importantly prevailing in the close contest to run out on top. The change up in the goal circle to switch Housby into goal shooter and push Jo Harten into goal attack paid dividends while bringing Nat Haythornthwaite on into wing attack to replace Chelsea Pitman gave them that extra spark in the attacking third. An element that the Diamonds simply could not contain.

So what if Laura Geitz was brought on in the final quarter? Could the Diamonds have won another Commonwealth Games gold medal?

As one of Australia’s most dominant and profound goal keepers in history, many were surprised to see Geitz not return to the court when the game was on the line. She has proven time and time again her ability to do the unthinkable and force a turnover out of nothing credit to her high netball nous, quick feet and sheer class. The talented goal keeper is renowned for her ability to stay away from the whistle and apply immense pressure with her three-foot marking and commanding figure something that the Diamonds could have used in the dying seconds of the game. Geitz is a real general down back with her leadership and ability to read the play constantly on display.

Prior to finding herself on the bench, Geitz impressed shutting down the Roses avenue to goal, blocking Harten with her strong movement and netball smarts to get ball-side and swat away any errant passes. Her long arms and skill to constantly get hands to ball and create deflections was a key aspect to the Diamonds winning ways. While her connection with the likes of Firebirds teammate Gabi Simpson and April Brandley enabled the Diamonds to win a wealth of ball back thanks to their swarming style of defence. Although both Courtney Bruce and Jo Weston put up a strong wall in defence, they were lacking that extra bit of experience and knowledge down back giving away a costly penalty after the final whistle.

Taking into account the skill, class and experience of Geitz it is not unfair to speculate that Australia could have taken the gold medal. The 2014 ANZ Championship showed just what Geitz can do when the pressure is on taking a match winning intercept with seconds left and propelling the ball back down the court to win their second grand final in two years. The Firebirds were two goals down with a minute left but it was the miracle work of their captain that got them over the line, something that could have been replicated if Geitz was gifted the opportunity to get back on court in the Commonwealth Games gold medal match.

In your opinion, would Australia have won the Gold Medal if Laura Geitz had finished on court?
Yes absolutely
No, it would not have changed the result
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