Tag: laura langman

2021 SSN Preview: Round 1

THE Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) season kicks off this Saturday, with Round 1 shaping up with some exciting matches across the board. Audiences will see some familiar faces as well as a number of newbies take to the court, with the opening game a grand final replay showdown.

Melbourne Vixens vs. West Coast Fever
Saturday, May 1 @3:00pm

In this 2020 grand final rematch, both teams are expected to come out fighting in a huge Round 1 clash. Fever have had a rough week in the lead up to this game, as Perth went into a three-day lockdown over the weekend and their plans were thrown into disarray. However they will now land in Melbourne on Friday, and have been training in closed quarantine conditions. Fever also start the season on negative 12 points after serious salary cap breaches in previous seasons, which means they really need every win on the board to make their season count.

A key match-up to watch will be between Fever shooter Jhaniele Fowler and Vixens defensive duo Emily Mannix and Jo Weston. Fowler is an absolute powerhouse under the ring, with her height and strong hold making life difficult for her opponents. However, she may just be put to the test with Mannix and Weston, who have a great understanding of each other in the circle. Weston’s long arms and willingness to hunt make her dangerous for attackers, and Mannix’s hold over the ball and ability to jump creates a problem as well.

With Liz Watson out for the season with a foot injury, and the retirement of Caitlin Thwaites and Tegan Philip at the end of last season, the reigning premiers might not be up to the same level they were at last year. Mwai Kumwenda is the only remaining shooter, now joined by Ruby Barkmeyer and former Fever player, Kaylia Stanton, who will be looking to put her best foot forward in her new colours. They will have their work cut out for them against a strong Fever defensive unit in Courtney Bruce, Stacey Francis, Olivia Lewis and youngster Sunday Aryang

Collingwood Magpies vs. Sunshine Coast Lightning
Saturday, May 1 @7:00pm

Finishing on the bottom of the ladder at the end of 2020, the Magpies will be looking to have a better season this year. With Nicole Richardson appointed as their new head coach, and the return of guns Ash Brazill and Kelsey Browne from injury, the season may be looking up. Lightning only just missed out on a place in the grand final last year, and actually finished in second spot on the ladder, so they will be fighting hard to make sure they do not miss out on that opportunity again.

All eyes will be on the midcourt as Laura Scherian and Brazill are likely to go head to head. Brazill missed all of last season, sidelined with an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury sustained during an AFL Women’s match, so she will be eager to get back on court. As a strong, fast-paced player, she will certainly be an interesting match for Scherian, who steps up this season after the retirement of New Zealand great, Laura LangmanCara Koenen will have her work cut out for her on Magpies veteran Geva Mentor, while new Lightning captain Karla Pretorius will hope to start her season on a high.

Queensland Firebirds vs. NSW Swifts
Sunday, May 2 @1:00pm

The Swifts were a strong but inconsistent team last year, and will be looking to push past that coming into Round 1. However, having just missed out on a finals outing last season, the Firebirds will be hungry for a few more wins this year. Sporting an amazing lineup, they welcome back Gretel Bueta after having a baby, and are joined again by Kim Ravaillion, who most recently played with the Magpies before also having a child.

A key matchup in this game will be Swifts’ Sarah Klau and Firebirds’ Romelda Aiken. On the Australian Diamonds international team as one of the developing defenders, Klau has an amazing ability to read the ball, and at 190cm, is a real challenge for her opponents. However, at 196cm, Aiken’s height and ability to take those long, obscure passes will really give Klau a run for her money.

Klau is joined in the defensive end by Lauren Moore and Maddy Turner, while Aiken will work alongside Bueta and young gun Tippah Dwan, who took the SSN by storm in her debut season last year by sinking super shots left right and centre. Both sides have incredibly versatile midcourts with Lara Dunkley, Jemma Mi Mi, Ravaillion and Gabi Simpson all formidable forces for the Firebirds while for the Swifts Paige Hadley, Maddy Proud, Natalie Haythornthwaite and Tayla Fraser are reliable through the centre third.   

Adelaide Thunderbirds vs. GIANTS
Sunday, May 2 @3:00pm

Neither the GIANTS nor Thunderbirds had a stellar season last in 2020, both ending up in the bottom three of the ladder. The GIANTS came under a bit of fire last year after benching Diamonds captain Caitlin Bassett for the majority of the season, and losing her to the ANZ Premiership’s Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic.

It will be interesting to watch the matchup of GIANTS captain, Jo Harten and Thunderbirds defender Shamera Sterling. Sterling had a slow start to last season, but as the games went on, she pushed harder, and showcased her spectacular jump and defensive skills. Harten is a strong shooter, with fast footwork skills and an ability to set up play in the circle. While she was not a fan of the super shot last year, she still managed to use it to her ability, pairing well with Kiera Austin out the front.

With Kate Shimmin heading to Lightning, the Thunderbirds have brought in Jamaican Latanya Wilson, who played in the Vitality Netball Superleague last season. She has been described as a ‘hunter’ on the court, and will be a great asset to the Thunderbirds defence end. The GIANTS have a different defensive setup with Amy Parmenter and Jamie-Lee Price creating the physical midcourt to create turnover ball before it hits the goal third.

Magic “are a force to be reckoned with” heading into the 2021 ANZ Premiership season

OUT with the old and in with the new. Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic had a complete overhaul during the off-season with a multitude of new faces joining the fray for the 2021 ANZ Premiership season such as Temalisi Fakahokotau, Chiara Semple and Grace Kara. However one of the biggest names to join the side is that of Australian Diamond, Caitlin Bassett, with the former GIANTS shooter crossing the ditch to ply her trade and ready to leave her mark on the competition.

“A lot does ride on this first game for us and it will be really important for us to get out there and really set the tone for the entire season,” Bassett said. “Really get out there and show everyone across the league that we’re a team to be reckoned with, and put that fear back into the heart that the Magic used to have when they had the likes of a Laura Langman, Casey Kopua and Irene Van Dyk playing for them.”

Struggling to find a level of consistency last season, the Magic and Bassett are keen to iron out those kinks and leave a lasting imprint on the competition to not only work their way up the ladder but earn a spot in the finals with their new found connections and versatility across the court set to leave teams guessing.

“Obviously to make that final,” Bassett said. W’e’ve been working hard and all the things that we’ve been going through preseason even whilst I haven’t been here the girls have been working extremely hard on really realising what the culture is at this club and drawing on things like our history and our soul and past players and things like that which is really important to where we want to go.

“You know, I, I’ve made mentioned and myself and Grace are very strong in the fact that we’re not here to muck around like I haven’t moved to a different country to have a bit of fun and play around on court I’m here because I want to win. And so, that understanding across our team that we’re here, and we’re making sacrifices, we will do anything possible to win is really important in building that winning culture.”

With new inclusions across the court it is clear that Bassett and the Magic alike are keen to make amends for their subpar 2020 season and stamp their authority on the ANZ Premiership with the goal shooter highlighting the influence of captain Sam Winders.

“Her [Winders] energy is just explosive and I don’t know where she gets hold from. We had a really hard training session yesterday, yet she’s still running around contesting ball doing give and go’s. She really does run our attack and also our defence end because she does play wing defence too.”

“So, I think, you know, the leadership that she has within our team, it just comes naturally to her I really enjoy watching her lead and just watching her lead by example. I think it’s been fun and then getting the confidence on the feed we’ve been working a lot together, getting the feed from centre into the goal circle, and it’s coming along nicely which is great.”

Speaking of perfecting the feed into the circle it is hard to go past, Kara who re-joins the Magic after a stint with the Stars and is a player that Bassett has always had an eye on credit to her silky movement and pin-point precision passes.

“When I was younger and was playing for the Diamonds and she was suited up for the Ferns I was always so jealous about the ball that she would put into Irene Van Dyk and I can now I’m lucky to be on the receiving end of that. She’s just so funny, like she just looks in straight away and the ball will have left her hand before I can get eye contact sometimes, so I’ve been loving that supply. And, you know, just the confidence she brings it our attacking end she has so much experience. She’s such a smart player, but she’s just calm and confident out on that line and that really gives the rest of us confidence as well.”

Inside the goal circle, the Magic have retained the services of Khiarna Williams who burst onto the scene last year while also poaching London Pulse goaler, Chiara Semple to add another string to their bow for the upcoming season.

“We’ve got two young goal attacks in Chiara Semple and my little friend Keks as well. So, I’ve been loving playing with them and just having fresh people with fresh eyes, and having different setups. I think that’s what’s been most fun for me is sharing information that I’ve learned over the years listening to what they think and their experiences and trying to put them together to create success and our attacking end.”

Bassett heaped plenty of praise on up and coming youngster Williams who was named in the New Zealand under 21s side crediting her “lovely shot” and movement.

“I think her athleticism is just incredible. And the fact that when I come out of the circle I can put a highball into her is a huge benefit. I think also she’s very smart defensively and she’s got a little bit of that mongrel, that makes it hard to get the ball off her when she does have it.”

With the team really starting to take shape and connections forming across the court, Bassett highlighted just how at home she feels in her new colours.

“I feel really at home here. Kiwis are very, very friendly and the weather has been beautiful. I think what’s been the best is the girls at training and my team have just like welcomed me with open arms and teaching me pronunciations and different Kiwi words which are slowly slipping into my everyday language. So, it’s been quite an easy transition.”

After somewhat of a tumultuous season with the GIANTS in the Suncorp Super Netball, Bassett is focused solely on establishing strong connections with her new teammates across the court to give the Magic the best possible opportunity to cause waves in 2021 and rack up the wins.

“I’m just trying to build connections with my teammates as quickly as possible. I know Magic didn’t perform particularly well last year and I don’t think that one person can totally change the team.”

“You know we do have a few different players within our group and we are learning to play together but I think for me the focus is just getting out there and doing my job, standing tall in the circle and taking the ball strongly and shooting as many goals as I can.”

“Our defensive end is amazing and they’ve been, you know, turning over a lot of ball for us. I guess as the attack it’s our opportunity to finish off. So just preparing for it like I would at the start of any other season.”

Entering into her 18th preseason the goal shooter has enjoyed the unconventional start to her time with the Magic, highlighting how the difference has been a great learning curve for her.

“It’s kind of ridiculous, isn’t it,” she chuckled referring to her 18 seasons. “I’ve been around for a little while and I think preseason is hard, it’s a grind. “It’s about pushing yourself physically and mentally and I think, you know coming over here with the Kiwis and doing it in a slightly different way than I’ve done it before it’s been really good for me. “I’ve been looking at the game a different way I’ve learnt some tricks off my teammates already and they’ve given me a lot of confidence.

The side took plenty of learnings out of their preseason tournament, with Bassett noting the difference in defence key, given her familiarity with one-on-one marking rather than zone style defences an area she hopes to improve throughout the season.

“It is a struggle playing against the zone because it’s something that we don’t get to see a proper zone, very often,” Bassett said. “But I think from playing in preseason matches you know I was happy. “There are definitely teams that play more one on one marking as well so I’m going to get the best of both worlds. “Playing against that amazing New Zealand zone week in week out, and then also getting that one on one defence that I’m used to having in Australia that is going to keep me on my toes.”

With new and old faces across the court, the Magic will have plenty of eyes on them come Round 1 when they take on the Northern Mystics as they look to rise up the ranks after a disappointing 2020 season.

2021 Constellation Cup: Five things we learned

THE first international test matches between Australia and New Zealand are well and truly done and dusted, with the New Zealand Silver Ferns dominating the 2021 Constellation Cup and winning 3-1 to take home the trophy for the first time since 2012. With all four matches complete and plenty of talking points, Draft Central is taking a look at what we have learned across the four encounters.

NZ is close to completing its rebuild, Australia is only just beginning its own

When it comes to pre-tournament expectations, not many opinions were going the way of the Diamonds given the Ferns’ excellent development over the past few years. But whilst questions were still being asked about the retirement of Maria Folau and Laura Langman, as well as Katrina Rore‘s subsequent pregnancy, the Ferns got down to business and proved they have plenty of answers and options who can step up in their stead. Whilst the Ferns’ attacking depth was tested in the second match when Ameliaranne Ekenasio did not take the court, seeing the Diamonds come away with the win, realistically the New Zealand squad proved it was more than capable of matching and beating the Diamonds all across the court.

For Australia, a close-to full strength squad was not enough, with a lack of experience seeing the Diamonds struggle to match the Ferns list. With a number of retirements since their last test match and a completely new goaling unit getting priority time on court, the consistency and intensity just was not there as the Ferns dominated, proving their experience with a couple of clinical and comeback performances.

Accuracy to post is critical during test matches

Goaling accuracy is necessary in any netball match, but when it comes to a test scenario and international standards, shooting with accuracy and volume is critical to get wins on the board and ensure world rankings are maintained with such a tight race to top spot. Realistically, whilst both teams plied their trade and had some excellent moments, it was the frontlines that broke down under pressure and inaccuracy that let both Australia and New Zealand down, with the Diamonds feeling that pain a lot more than the Ferns given they lost the trophy this time around. Overall, Australia only put up four less goals than New Zealand across all four matches for a 78 per cent accuracy, compared to the Ferns’ 84 per cent, and it is safe to say results could have looked very different if the accuracy was there – for both teams.

Overall, the highest accuracy goaler across the board was Caitlin Bassett, who missed three shots at 89 per cent but only played a total of 53 minutes across the four matches. Maia Wilson was the standout with 140 goals from 161 attempts at 87 per cent, whilst the next highest scorer was Kiera Austin, who showcased her clever playmaking but struggled with her accuracy for 77 goals from 110 attempts at just 70 per cent. Cara Koenen was a revelation in the circle with 76 goals at 85 per cent, whilst Ekenasio put up 41 of her 52 attempts at 79 per cent across her three matches. Realistically, if both teams had scored every goal they put up, the Diamonds would have comfortably swept the competition 3-1 given the role inaccuracy played in the second and third results, putting up three and two more attempts during each occasion. Nevertheless, the Ferns defence impressed and made quick work of the youthful Diamonds frontline to turn the tables the other way.

New Zealand’s changes paid off

Despite a small hiccup during the second match with Ferns captain Ekenasio sitting on the sidelines, a very settled and consistent rotation of players was had across the Ferns with changes only made when required, and players proving they had the ability to compete seamlessly at an international level. Whilst coach Noeline Taurua was unafraid of making changes, she also allowed her list to feel out issues as a squad and make the Diamonds pay, time and time again. Defensively was where the Ferns shone, especially against a comparatively inexperienced attack line given Bassett did not get that much court time, as the trio of Jane WatsonSulu Fitzpatrick and Karin Burger made their presence felt and piled on the intensity.

On the other side of the coin, new Diamonds coach Stacey Marinkovich was not quite as willing to use her squad’s bench depth, with a very young front-line countered by an experienced defence line – but at times requiring the opposite with defender Courtney Bruce playing out of position in goal defence and visibly fatiguing, and fellow defender Jo Weston spending most of her court time out in wing defence. Meanwhile, the inexperienced combination of Koenen and Austin could only cope with so much pressure without the cool, calm and collected assistance of Bassett at the post, and likely would have benefited with time off the court to sit back and adjust their style when the going got tough.

Quarantine should not be blamed, but it can be an excuse

At an international level, every single bit of preparation matters, and whilst both nations managed to get their entire respective seasons underway and complete last year, the two nations had very different lead-ups to the Constellation Cup – namely all four matches understandably being played in New Zealand due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, as well as a required two week quarantine period for the Australian squad. Whilst these limitations possibly would not have been such a significant issue with a more experienced Diamonds squad and an overall lack of consistent training back in Australia with differing restrictions from state to state – amongst hard lockdowns – it proved crucial with obvious signs of wear and tear in the earlier few matches, and fatigue setting in early in the last two matches given the side’s lack of match simulation and preparation. Factor in that New Zealand had a couple of opportunities to pull on the black dress last year against England and the Silver Ferns Men’s squad to iron out their lineup and connections, and the Australians were at a huge disadvantage heading to Christchurch. That being said, the Ferns played better across all four matches and well and truly deserved the trophy, and Australia will look to pick itself up and take all the critical learnings of this test to their next international opportunity.

The trans-Tasman rivalry is here to stay

The four matches were a huge spectacle, and even without crowds for three of the four matches, the intensity and excitement was palpable as the two nations went head to head. Whilst there is no doubt the Silver Ferns are the deserving winners of the trophy, the tight contests across the court proved how much each and every player wanted a win, especially after such a disjointed 2020. New Zealand proved they can mount a comeback from any scoreline, as seen by the third and fourth matches, and the Diamonds proved that they have a way to go to topple the Ferns’ lineup with this rebuilding squad. International netball is back, and having both nations back out on court was a huge step in the right direction following a tough year, so there is no doubt the rivalry will only grow from here after such a huge tournament and end to Australia’s hold on the Constellation Cup.

2021 Constellation Cup: Hypothetical starting 7

THE Constellation Cup is only days away and with that comes speculation on what both New Zealand and Australia’s potential starting sevens could look like. With a couple of key figures missing for both sides with Gretel Bueta, Steph Wood and Emily Mannix out for Australia and Katrina Rore unavailable for New Zealand, it provides an opportunity for some new names to take the next step up. Here are our potential sides:

Australian Diamonds:

GS: Caitlin Bassett
GA: Kiera Austin
WA: Liz Watson
C: Paige Hadley
WD: Gabi Simpson
GD: Jo Weston
GK: Courtney Bruce

With a relatively inexperienced shooting circle it is expected that Diamonds captain and lynchpin Caitlin Bassett gets the nod in the goal shooter position. A key figure under the post with her clever holds, accuracy to post and strength on the rebound, it would be remiss to not give Bassett the start given her ability to dictate the flow inside the circle. She is likely to partner with the likes of Kiera Austin given the two played domestically together at the GIANTS, and the young goaler is realistically the next most experienced in the proposed squad. Austin is a smooth mover who boasts impressive vision to read the play and slot seamlessly into the space to constantly create attacking forays. With good timing and an ability to shoot from range, Austin is an exciting prospect looking to get her first international cap.

Through the midcourt the Diamonds have a plethora of options and have a wealth of versatility with each player able to effectively ply their trade in a variety of positions. Arguably the world’s best wing attack in Liz Watson is set to take the starting position for the Diamonds to provide that steady head in attack with her class with ball in hand a significant factor. Watson is a real figure of consistency, often working in overdrive to weave the ball down the court much like Paige Hadley, who slots into centre. Hadley can switch between a defensive and attacking mindset in the blink of an eye while her high level of endurance is undeniable. Hadley is cautious with ball in hand, renowned for her gut running and endurance rather than her flashy skills. In at wing defence is Gabi Simpson who re-joins the fold after some time on the outskirts. With plenty of experience and an uncanny ability to pick off passes, Simpson is a real livewire across both the defensive and midcourt units. Strong through transition and quick on her feet the wing defence is never far from the action, shutting down her opponent and most importantly winning ball back for her side time and time again.

Speaking of defence, we have gone with the tried and tested duo of Jo Weston and Courtney Bruce at the last line. Weston is an integral member in defence often using her long arms and lean over the shot to intimidate her opponents while her read of the play puts her in good stead to take frequent intercepts. In at goal keeper, Bruce is a highly physical opponent that works her player over with her constant movement, fancy footwork and read of the play to swat away passes with ease. The defensive combination has become well known for their ball-hunting abilities and skillset to put up strong defensive walls for opposition sides, a feat they will be hoping to employ against the Ferns.

Given the likely new connections in attack it is imperative for the Diamonds to have some form of stability down back to ensure the goalers are given the best opportunity to fine tune their partnership and build scoring pressure. With strength through the midcourt expect the Diamonds to bring the ball down the court with speed and use their experienced players to hold down the side when times get tough.

New Zealand Silver Ferns:

GS: Maia Wilson
GA: Ameliaranne Ekenasio
WA: Gina Crampton
C: Shannon Saunders
WD: Sam Winders
GD: Karin Burger
GK: Jane Watson

The goal circle has a mix of youth and experience as Maia Wilson takes out the goal shooter role. Still only young, Wilson has elevated her game in the past year with her increased movement, impressive timing and overall volume and accuracy a couple of notable features. A strong and commanding presence under the post, Wilson has also proven that she can shoot from range and complement the likes of Ferns captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio. The goal attack has speed and cleanliness to boot while her timing along the baseline is second to none. Silky smooth with ball in hand, Ekenasio has an innate understanding of when to flick the ball around or take the shot with her long bomb shooting under pressure a major element in her game. The two are steadily building a strong combination with their quick movement and overall netball nous which are set to cause problems for the Diamonds.

With Laura Langman out of the picture following her retirement it will likely be Shannon Saunders that steps up to the plate and guides the side through the midcourt. Whilst not the quickest player out on court, Saunders offers a sense of reliability and surety through the middle with her careful approach through the centre. Boasting more defensive tendencies, Saunders will complement the likes of partner in crime Gina Crampton who uses her quick footwork to dance around circle edge and feed the ball into the goalers. With excellent vision and timing, Crampton is an easy selection – plus her experience with Saunders makes it almost a no-brainer for the Ferns. Returning to the Ferns squad is Sam Winders with the wing defence poised to take the role given her expertise in the position. With speed to burn, impressive timing and strong transitional play Winders could provide that link between attack and defence.

Karin Burger is the likely starter in at goal defence with the highly versatile defender able to take advantage of her long limbs and employ some strong hands over pressure on the shot. She is deceptively quick given her height, covering the court well to shut down the drive of the attackers while she is a real menace in the air thanks to her excellent leap and timing. She will likely partner with Jane Watson and allow the goal keeper to do what she does best, provide a commanding presence down back. Boasting versatility to change from a holding defender to a moving one, Watson is a real general down back who constantly repositions and uses her rangy arms to force turnovers and create doubt for opposition attackers. She can gobble up intercepts with relative ease and create a wealth of pressure through her movement.

Only naming three circle defenders in the squad, the Ferns will likely opt for the experienced duo to allow for the new connections in the midcourt to flourish. They also welcome back a couple of familiar names in attack who despite having experience are returning from injury so may be eased into the workload.

Fantasy Team: Diamonds All-Stars v. Ferns All-Stars

WITH the Constellation Cup around the corner Draft Central has comprised a Fantasy Team consisting of players from all eras of Australian and New Zealand netball. There is no shortage of star players that have pulled on the green and gold or black dresses respectively, making the decision to dwindle down the 10-player squad incredibly difficult.

Australian Diamonds All-Stars:

GS: Vicki Wilson
GA: Sharelle McMahon
WA: Liz Watson
C: Kim Green
WD: Renae Ingles
GD: Bianca Chatfield
GK: Laura Geitz

BENCH: Caitlin Bassett, Madi Browne, Sharni Layton

Kicking things off in goal shooter is none other than Vicki Wilson with the Diamonds star a crucial cog in the attack line-up thanks to her dominance under the post. Able to diversify her game in a heartbeat Wilson proved herself as a dominant figure that was able to shoot from directly under the post or from afar. Moving out to goal attack Sharelle McMahon got the nod in the starting position given her impressive accuracy to post, playmaking skills, spatial awareness and overall netball brain to continuously create attacking forays. Both goalers had the flexibility to swing between goal shooter and goal attack, further adding to their repertoire and making them easy selections for the Diamonds All Star squad.

Moving on to the midcourt it was a difficult decision, however it was current vice-captain Liz Watson who earned the starting position given her complete and utter domination in the wing attack position. Watson is as consistent as they come and boasts an undeniable level of endurance to outrun and outwit her opponent. Although not the quickest player on the court, her ball speed and pinpoint-precision passing is what makes her such an incredible talent and threat inside the attacking third,  plus her ability to swing into centre within the blink of an eye adds another string to her bow. Speaking of centre and Kim Green was an easy choice with the talented midcourter not afraid to throw her body on the line and contest for every single pass that came her way. A real spearhead through the centre third, Green was renowned for her impeccable passing, foot speed and overall lightning fast hands to pierce through the defensive units. In wing defence it was hard to go past the services of veteran Renae Ingles who utilised her long rangy arms and three foot marking to cause hesitation on opposition attackers. Ingles was one of the most dynamic midcourters in any team she played in, and had an insatiable thirst for intercepts – pair that with her shadowing style of defence and Ingles was hard to stop when she got going.

Down in defence, former Australian Diamonds captain Laura Geitz was a shoe-in for the starting bib in goal keeper given not only her on court leadership but so too overall domination underneath the post to nullify her opponent with her quick thinking, high netball IQ and tenacity to go out hunting at every possible opportunity. Joining her in the defensive circle is Bianca Chatfield with the defender relying on her height and read of the play to pick off intercepts and create a strong wall in defence. Chatfield was highly versatile and could move within all three defensive positions showcasing her skillset to repel the ball back down the court.

Current Australian Diamonds captain Caitlin Bassett takes out the attacking bench position with the goal shooter a real threat under the post with her strong holds, long arms and nifty footwork that enables her to be a commanding presence. The next spot goes to midcourter Madi Browne who oozes versatility and an attacking mindset to create continuous attacking plays while defender Sharni Layton rounds out the side.

New Zealand All-Stars:

GS: Irene Van Dyk
GA: Maria Folau
WA: Gina Crampton
C: Laura Langman
WD: Anna Harrison
GD: Casey Kopua
GK: Jane Watson

BENCH: Ameliaranne Ekenasio, Liana Leota, Katrina Rore

It is a no brainer that spearhead Irene Van Dyk would get the nod as the starting goal shooter position for the Ferns given her complete and utter dominance both at a domestic and international level. One of the world’s best shooters, Van Dyk oozed nothing but class, accuracy and sheer star power under the post to continuously command the ball and score with relative ease. She rarely ventured from under the post, relying on her fancy footwork and aerial strength to outmuscle her opponents. Joining her in goal attack is Maria Folau who was renowned for her long bomb shooting. A menace from anywhere in the circle, Folau did some of her best work from perimeter-edge slotting goals willy-nilly and with great accuracy.

The wing attack position goes to Gina Crampton. With speed to burn and impressive spatial awareness Crampton is able to easily hit targets inside the goal circle and dominate. The recently retired Laura Langman was handed the centre bib given her impressive athleticism and all-round netball smarts. There was nothing that Langman could not do, able to run all day and flick between her defensive and offensive mentality within the blink of an eye. Langman was a real barometer and could change the course of a game in a heartbeat thanks to her intercept ability, quick hands and circle work. Out in wing defence is Anna Harrison who had the flexibility to swing into either goal defence or goal keeper, but did some of her best work out the front patrolling the midcourters and stopping the ball from entering the defensive third credit to her long arms and all-round smothering pressure.

Defensively, the Ferns are littered with viable candidates but it would be remiss to not include former captain Casey Kopua. The talented defender was a real ball magnet who could bob up at any given time and snatch the ball out of the air such was her defensive nous and read of the play. She was an excitement machine who was not afraid of a bit of physicality under the post and was just as damaging on transition. Current Silver Fern, Jane Watson takes out the goal keeper slot with the reliable defender a real menace in the air. Not afraid to go out hunting and with an exceptional read of the play, Watson is one of those players that should never be underestimated, able to hold her own and completely flip the script on a game with her timely intercepts or deflections credit to her lightning-quick footwork.

Unlucky to not get the nod in the starting position, Ameliaranne Ekenasio is arguably one of the most unsung heroes in the current Ferns outfit. Somewhat of a quiet achiever, what Ekenasio can do with ball in hand is nothing short of impressive, able to open the court up with her silky drives or score from the outskirts of the circle. Joining her on the bench is current Pulse teammate, Katrina Rore who boasts plenty of defensive traits shown through her read of the play, quick change of direction and three-foot marking. The final player on the bench is  Liana Leota with the speedy midcourter able to light up the court with her attacking nous.

Comparison:

Both teams have talent scattered across the court but when it comes to defensive versatility the Ferns have the upper hand with the likes of Rore and Harrison able to alternate between circle defence and the midcourt. Although the Diamonds have a sturdy defensive unit they lack that added element of flexibility, and while the two sides’ centre-court and attack match up nicely, the Ferns would more likely get the ‘W’ if these two teams came up against one another.

Underrated internationals: Caroline O’Hanlon

A NEW series looking at underrated players across the netball world is underway with the Draft Central team casting an eye on players who tend to fly under the radar but have proven to have plenty of class and talent across the board. Hailing from Northern Ireland, the next player brought into the spotlight is dual athlete Caroline O’Hanlon.

Playing for Manchester Thunder in the Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) O’Hanlon has become a regular fixture through the midcourt with her run and gun style of play and dynamic movement. A key contributor for the side throughout the past couple of seasons with her leadership and overall netball nous to dictate the play through the centre or out in wing attack. At 36, she is one of the most experienced players in the side but does not let age define her given her high level of endurance and impressive spatial awareness to drift into open pockets on the court.

She is often overshadowed by the likes Serena Guthrie and Laura Langman who have been formidable options for their respective nations in England and New Zealand, but O’Hanlon has been a star for Northern Ireland. She has led them on many occasions using her quick feet and silky hands to deliver the ball into the circle time and time again. The talented midcourter often flies under the radar given she is not from one of the top five netballing nations, but should not be underestimated credit to her endurance base and smarts on court. She boasts a highly attacking mindset and is not afraid of the physicality coming from a Gaelic football background. She is strong in the air and is able to absorb the contact when they come thanks to her core strength while her balance is also a noticeable trait in her game play.

The ever-reliable centre has represented her nation at three World Cups and two Commonwealth Games highlighting just how much of a formidable force she is through the centre and also her arsenal of tricks. O’Hanlon is far from a one-trick pony able to turn on the after burners to go streaming down court or slow down the pace of the game with her cautious approach down court. She is a consistent figure that has a high workrate that enables her to be a threat in offence and defence with her hands over pressure, solid court coverage and deceptively long arms.

Her second efforts are unquestionable with O’Hanlon often backing up her teams efforts across the court with her desperation and hunt to reel in any errant pass. The 36-year-old is clever with ball in hand and has enough experience and knowledge to hold onto the ball until the dying second and then release accordingly. The captain of the Northern Ireland side, O’Hanlon is often that driving force through the centre able to dictate the play and while she may sometimes go unnoticed it is by no means because of a lack of talent or effort, just sheer exposure. She has great versatility on the pass to ensure she is not a one dimensional player and can have a profound impact whether it be directly on circle edge, in the pocket or floating through the middle third such is her precision and craft with ball in hand.

EXPLAINER | Pocket Podcast: Fantasy Netball Draft – Centre

WITH netball done and dusted for 2020, the Centre Pass Podcast team has decided to create a Fantasy Netball Draft that includes a series of mini-podcasts delving into the reasoning behind player selections. Following suit with the extended benches in Suncorp Super Netball and given the high calibre of players to choose from, each person will have a 12 player roster to fill out and one player each per position will be selected and discussed each episode. The first edition begins with centre as Sophie Taylor, Jarrad Gardner and Taylah Melki explain their selections, with picks eligible from across the netball world and not limited to Suncorp Super Netball players.

Picks:

1st Sophie Taylor – Serena Guthrie
2nd Taylah Melki – Kim Ravaillion
3rd Jarrad Gardner – Paige Hadley

There is no shortage of A-list centres and with no restrictions in terms of international players it broadened the pool even more. The recent retirement of netball superstar Laura Langman meant she was unable to be selected however that still left a number of viable options from around the world. The team considered a couple of key attributes such as endurance, versatility and cleanliness with ball in hand as shown through the selections made by each individual.

The statistics included reflect the last full season each respective player played in, not including any international commitments. However, as the VNSL does not have any statistics prior to 2020, Guthrie’s numbers are from her 2018 season with the GIANTS in the Suncorp Super Netball.

Serena Guthrie:

Handed the first selection, it was almost impossible for Sophie to go past the likes of Guthrie who, despite taking last year off, is still a world-class talent. Oozing nothing but athleticism and excitement, Guthrie is one of those players that can change the course of a game in an instant given her impressive court coverage. She is a real energiser bunny that has an impressive leap and is not afraid to throw her body at absolutely everything. Guthrie is never far from the contest and is a real livewire whenever she steps out on court especially when it comes to defence, able to rip the ball out of midair and send it spiralling back down the court. The 30-year-old also boasts a wealth of versatility given her defensive tendencies to slide back into wing defence when needed.

2018 stats:

373 feeds, 195 goal assists, 24 intercepts, 54 deflections

Kim Ravaillion:

Although she did not take the court in 2020 after giving birth to her daughter at the start of the year, Ravaillion is a dynamic A-list talent. One of the most consistent players when it comes to her ability to cover the court and run all day, it was an easy choice for Taylah. While not the flashiest player it is her hard work and impressive work rate that stands out able to run both ways and have a profound impact especially in defence. Ravaillion is a dogged style of centre, able to chip away at her opponents and is a smooth mover able to glide around the court with great ease. Similar to Guthrie she can slot back into that wing defence position when called upon, however she does her most damage through the centre with her long bombs and high releases into the circle.

2019 stats:

184 feeds, 98 goal assists, seven intercepts, 17 deflections

Paige Hadley:

After another strong season with the NSW Swifts, Jarrad quickly swooped on the services of the highly versatile Hadley. A primed and ready to go midcourter that is able to play all three positions of wing attack, centre and wing defence it was a no brainer given the high calibre type of player she is. Hadley is a smooth mover who is incredibly strong around circle edge, able to ward off the prying arms of defenders. She has impressive bursts of speed and is a steady head able to weave the ball down the court and constantly re-assess her options to ensure that the best decision is made. Given her high netball nous, Hadley can seamlessly switch from a more defensive mindset to an attacking one instantaneously making her a highly talented player.

2020 stats:

273 feeds, 163 goal assists,  13 intercepts, 20 deflections

The centre position is a crucial element in any side as it links the defensive and offensive ends, thus a lot of pressure is placed on finding the right player that can connect both units. Their role typically lies in being that supplementary feeder allowing the wing attack to lead the way in the attacking third while their role defensively can often be to clog up space and apply strong hands over pressure. All three people chose highly versatile players that are able to rotate through the midcourt, boast a high level of endurance and have some form of international experience. Although both Guthrie and Ravaillion have been away from the elite level for a while that is no knock on their sheer star power and stamina.

Tune in to hear the full explanation surrounding our selections, the alternative selections considered and who could still be picked up when we get to the bench.

Full episode: Centre 

SSN Updates: This week’s movers and changers

THE player signings continued throughout the week as a number of Suncorp Super Netball players found new homes for next season, with the main focus a couple of young players securing a full time position. Collingwood and Sunshine Coast Lightning completed their 10 player roster, joining Queensland Firebirds however the Magpies and Firebirds still await the appointment of a coach for the 2021 season.

Mahalia Cassidy

2020 club: Queensland Firebirds

The recent retirement of Laura Langman meant the centre bib had to be filled and while there was plenty of speculation surrounding whether or not Cassidy would end up on the Sunshine Coast, those rumours came true with the club announcing her signing. A gut-running centre that has plenty of attacking and defensive attributes, Cassidy will be a great inclusion in the Lightning squad in 2021. Returning from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury in 2020 the 25-year-old starred for Queensland with her ability to hit circle edge and deliver into the circle and will be eager to replicate that for her new club.

She is an exciting prospect for the Lightning given her adaptability to play both a defensive and attacking role depending on the scenario. Expect her to grab the starting centre bib with her drive and spatial awareness likely to complement the way in which speedster Laura Scherian plays and the general in attack in Steph Wood.

“Mahalia is such an exciting player to watch and she is impressive and creative in attack but can also hold her own defensively,” head coach Kylee Byrne said.

Lightning is a consistently competitive side in the Super Netball league and I’m eager to do whatever I can to contribute to the team, both on and off court,” Cassidy said.

Ash Unie

2020 club: Sunshine Coast Lightning (training partner)

Unie is an exciting young prospect taking the leap into the full time roster with Sunshine Coast with the up and coming defender valuing her time out on court throughout the 2020 season. Despite limited appearances she proved that she had all the tricks of the trade and was a real aerial threat given her leap and relative cleanliness to reel ball in.

Able to play in both goal defence and wing defence, Unie will provide that added element of versatility to the Lightning defensive unit able to use her hands over pressure and general court coverage to win ball back. Already developing a connection with Karla Pretorius, Phumza Maweni and Maddy McAuliffe, Unie will be looking to further strengthen that combo in 2021 and really dominate.

“We’ve had a close eye on Ash for over four seasons now and I have absolutely no doubt that she has all the talent and attributes to succeed in the SSN,” Byrne said.

“When Kylee shared the news I was speechless, it’s a dream come true to earn this Lightning contract and it’s something I have been working towards for a number of years,” Unie said.

“I’ve learnt a great deal as a Training Partner, so it will be exciting to take that to the next level in 2021 when I can continue to hone my craft with the best in the business.”

Jacqui Newton

2020 club: Melbourne Vixens (training partner)

Following on from that vein of exciting players getting elevated to the elite SSN level is Newton. Plying her trade for a number of years as a training partner with the Vixens, Newton has made her way to crosstown rivals Collingwood for the upcoming season and is set to bring a wealth of excitement to the defensive end. Still a young and raw prospect, Newton has showed glimpses of brilliance with her tenacity and constant hustle a couple of key attributes.

Likely to pair up with the experienced star in Geva Mentor and the ever exciting Jodi-Ann Ward, Newton will have plenty of international stars to learn off. Although not the flashiest player, Newton is a hard worker that can tag her opponent out of the game which will work nicely with the Magpies defence.

“We have kept a close eye on Jacqui’s development over the past few years and are delighted to reward her with her first contract on a senior list. We are eager to see what Jacqui will create at the Pies in 2021,” Jane Woodlands-Thompson said.

Elle McDonald

2020 club: Melbourne Vixens (training partner)

McDonald is another player making the step up in 2021 securing a permanent position in the Thunderbirds 10 player roster after a strong showing throughout the 2020 SSN season. An exciting up and coming midcourter, McDonald has proved her versatility able to swing between wing attack and centre seamlessly and while she might not be the quickest player out on court, her ball placement into the circle is unmatched.

With no Chelsea Pitman it is a high possibility that McDonald will challenge for a starting position however there is no shortage of options through the midcourt for the Thunderbirds, with the Adelaide side boasting a number of up and coming youngsters. It will be exciting to see how her partnership with the likes of Maisie Nankivell, Hannah Petty, Georgie Horjus and Lenize Potgieter develops throughout the 2021 SSN season.

“Elle’s an incredibly versatile player with strong netball smarts. We love that she has the ability to play all three midcourt positions and gives us great flexibility,” High Performance Manager Pitre Bourdon said.

“I was over the moon to see that Tania had reached out to me. It was great to chat with her and get some insight about her vision for the upcoming season and it made me keen to be a part of it,” McDonald said.

Matilda Garrett

2020 club: Collingwood Magpies

Emerging defender Garrett has found a new home across the border in South Australia, joining the Adelaide Thunderbirds ranks for 2021. A promising young defender, Garrett is still somewhat raw but has showcased her ability to have an impact on the big stage, utilising her hands over pressure and lean over the shot to win ball back. She play both a tagging style of defence or a hunting style to go out and pick off errant passes such is her read of the play and netball nous.

Although it has not been announced whether or not Shamera Sterling or Layla Guscoth have signed on yet, Garrett will make a great addition to the defensive end given her ability to impact the play. She is a cool, calm and collected head that offers great support with her transitional play and three-foot marking. Sterling has plenty of X-factor while Garrett possesses a much more go out and get it done style with the two likely to balance the way each other play.

“Matilda is an emerging defender with plenty of talent. We’ve seen what she is capable of during her time with Collingwood and we think she’ll add significant spark to our defensive end,” Bourdon said.

“Tania was also my head coach for the World Youth Cup Team, so I’m really excited to be coached by her again,” Garrett said.

Madi Browne

2020 club: Collingwood Magpies

Despite seemingly announcing her retirement midway through the SSN season, former Australian Diamond Browne is taking the plunge and heading to the UK for the 2021 Vitality Netball Superleague, which is set to begin in February, bar any further restrictions. Browne joins new Superleague franchise Leeds Rhinos for their first season in the VNSL which is coached by fellow Australian Dan Ryan, and bolsters their ranks alongside most-capped England Rose Jade Clarke and a couple of fresh faces in the mix.

While Browne is currently recovering from a 2019 ACL injury and subsequent surgery which saw her sit out the remainder of the 2020 SSN season, the former Diamond is excited about a fresh start in the UK and the potential to help grow the Rhinos outfit from the ground up.

“I am absolutely delighted to be coming to the UK to play for Leeds Rhinos. It was a dream to play netball abroad and thanks to Leeds this dream gets to become reality,” Browne said. “I’m ready to step outside my comfort zone of playing in Australia and inject my 15 years of elite Netball knowledge into UK Netball.”

Ryan was also enthusiastic about the move, citing that the development Browne will bring to the team will be invaluable for the new side, which features some excellent upcoming talent in young Australian Donnell Wallam and the likes of Rhea Dixon and Britt Coleman, as well as current Roses defender Vicki Oyesola.

“Madi is going to bring incredible high-performance expertise and leadership to our environment which will be invaluable when building a brand-new performance and team culture from the ground up,” Ryan said.

“She is a legend of the sport and our athletes are so fortunate to have the opportunity to play and train alongside an athlete and person of her class and calibre. I truly believe she’s going to have significant impact not only on the court for us but in helping shape and develop the emerging talent within the squad.”

Related articles

Centre Pass Podcast – Latest player movements
Movers and changers – Caitlin Bassett crossing the ditch, Roselee Jencke departing Firebirds (pre SSN Trade Period) // Kate Shimmin and Kalifa McCollin signings

Features: Rhinos coach leading the charge for progress in the VNSL // Elle McDonald ready for the next step

2020 SSN stats: Midcourt

ALTHOUGH the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) season is over, there is still plenty of analysis to be done. The next area of focus is the midcourt which will be broken down into wing attack, centre and wing defence. It will take into account aspects such as goal assists, centre pass receives along with deflections and intercepts to highlight the diversity that is shown through the centre third.

WING ATTACK:

Arguably the world’s best wing attack, Liz Watson was once again in ripping form and played a vital role in the Vixens’ grand final success this season. Despite missing a couple of games with an ankle injury Watson led all-comers with a competition high 367 goal assists with her pinpoint passing on constant display. She was also prolific at the centre pass racking up 284 receives testament to her high work rate. Speedster Laura Scherian also had a hot hand recording 202 goal assist across her 16 games while her efforts at the centre pass were unmatched leading the league with 342. The ever reliable Chelsea Pitman was classy with ball in hand registering 165 assists, 201 centre pass receives and 12 deflections.

GIANTS debutant Maddie Hay also impressed in her 13 appearances to collect 164 goal assists and 19 deflections and while Kiera Austin was predominantly in goal attack spent some time out in wing attack to pick up 153 assists, 289 centre pass receives and 12 intercepts. Emma Cosh quickly familiarised herself out in wing attack after being dropped in the deep end, to finish with 156 goal assists in her couple of appearances. The ever changing Magpies frontend had a number of players pull on the wing attack bib with Kelsey Browne a key fixture prior to being ruled out with injury notching up 92 assists from her eight outings while Kelly Altmann also contributed 64 goal assists and 81 centre pass receives. For the Swifts, the smooth moving Nat Haythornthwaite was clinical with ball in hand leading the way with 152 goal assists while Firebirds livewire Jemma Mi Mi amassed 91 goal assists. Lara Dunkley found her groove as the season went on, registering 89 centre pass receives and 83 goal assists with her vision into the circle on constant display.

CENTRE:

A reinvigorated Verity Charles was a key cog in the engine room of the Fever with the centre running rampant and putting her attack skills to good use to notch up an impressive 317 goal assists. Renowned for her attacking tendencies, Charles also plied her trade defensively to amass 10 intercepts and 20 deflections. Sunshine Coast Lightning’s recently retired champion Laura Langman also starred with ball in hand, able to weave her way down court and deliver recording 255 goal assists while her defensive hustle was unquestionable collecting 14 intercepts and 25 deflections credit to her read of the play and sheer athleticism. Returning from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury Mahalia Cassidy was as consistent as they come and stepped up to the plate for the Firebirds producing 266 goal assists, four intercepts and 15 deflections.

GIANTS centre, Jamie-Lee Price led the troops in orange recording 190 goal assists, making full use of her deft touch while also displaying her defensive repertoire to collect 21 intercepts and 52 deflections. Melbourne Vixens co-captain Kate Moloney showcased her two-way running and even with Watson running the front half still managed 201 goal assists but did her most damage in transition picking up 11 intercepts and 26 deflections.

Swinging between the centre and wing attack position, Molly Jovic proved to do her most damage when able to run between all three thirds racking up 114 goal assists, 10 intercepts, 25 deflections and while she was costly at times with 52 turnovers to her name there is plenty of upside for the Pies midcourter. Much like Jovic, Paige Hadley and Maddy Proud found themselves rotating through a number of midcourt positions for the Swifts with Hadley expressing more of her defensive attributes with 13 intercepts and 20 deflections to accompany her 163 goal assists while Proud’s attacking flair came to the fore boasting 203 goal assists. The Thunderbirds also had a number of players pull on the centre bib as co-captain Hannah Petty floated in and out of the side with injury but still recorded 66 assists from her 10 outings while Maisie Nankivell did a lot of the heavy lifting to finish with 157 assists and starred defensively with 16 intercepts and 29 deflections.

WING DEFENCE:

There was no shortage of star performances in wing defence as Kate Eddy elevated her game in 2020 for the Vixens and although she was plagued with a foot injury in the last few games still managed to assert herself on the competition, boasting an impressive stat line of 19 intercepts, 32 deflections and seven rebounds given her ability to swing into goal defence. Training partner and replacement when Eddy went down, Allie Smith also showed glimpses of stardom with four intercepts and seven deflections in her limited time on court.

Fellow youngster, Amy Parmenter was another ball magnet and led the charge for the GIANTS collecting 25 intercepts and 62 deflections thanks to her impressive closing speed. still relatively fresh to the SSN scene, Mel Bragg starred for Collingwood, plying her trade effectively across the court to go out hunting and amass 18 intercepts and 42 deflections. Jess Anstiss kicked it up a gear for the Fever regularly getting hands to ball as shown by her 10 intercepts and 26 deflections.

Firebirds captain Gabi Simpson recaptured her scintillating form as her increased court coverage and dogged style of defence really came to the fore picking up 17 intercepts and 35 deflections. Shadine van der Merwe was a solid performer for the Thunderbirds able to employ strong hands over pressure and walked away with eight intercepts and 31 deflections, often sharing the role with Nankivell. The Lightning’s wing defence bib was often shared between Maddy McAuliffe and Jacqui Russell as the two picked up 14 and 10 intercepts, and 28 and 13 deflections respectively with McAuliffe also showcasing her attacking attributes with 26 goal assists. The Swifts were another club not afraid to ring in the changes however nine times out of ten the wing defence job fell to Sophie Craig as she picked up four intercepts and 26 deflections.

Taini Jamison Trophy: Who impressed?

A NUMBER of fresh faces took the court throughout the Taini Jamison Trophy for both the Silver Ferns and Roses and really made a case for a starting spot in their respective nations squad. Draft Central takes a look at one player in each third for the Ferns and Roses who stepped up to the plate and impressed to stake their claim.

Goalers:  

Maia Wilson:

Youngster Maia Wilson completely diversified her game play throughout the 2020 ANZ Premiership season for the Northern Stars and brought that new game play with her in this series. Her increased movement and range enabled her to be a threat from all areas inside the circle while her strength to withstand the physical pressure of Razia Quashie was also key. Wilson dipped into her bag of tricks with her roll into the backspace, a tried and tested move that reaped a wealth of reward to edge her closer to the post. With the Ferns still somewhat on the hunt for Maria Folau’s replacement, it is fair to say Wilson well and truly put her hand up throughout the series nailing 34 goals in Game 1, 38 in Game 2 and 44 in Game 3 showcasing not only her volume, but so too accuracy only missing a combined 11 shots. Her fancy footwork and ability to swap from a holding to a moving goaler within the blink of an eye really showcased her development and readiness for the international stage.

George Fisher:

Signing on with Southern Steel for the 2021 ANZ Premiership season, the England Roses youngster showcased just what she is made of, riding every bump and contest to stand strong under the post and deliver. A cool customer, Fisher did not seem overawed when injected into the game, using her footwork and body positioning to hold strong and command the ball. Her height enabled her to contest well in the air especially for rebounds while her overall court coverage was solid, able to pop out at the top of the circle and alleviate the pressure. She was a constant option inside the circle and displayed her rangy ability to slot them from far or close which complemented the style of Sophie Drakeford-Lewis and Eleanor Cardwell. Still trying to secure a permanent spot in the squad, Fisher proved that she has what it takes to be both an impact player and a starting goaler collecting 61 goals throughout the series, and going unblemished in Game 2 with 17 goals straight.

Midcourt:

Claire Kersten:

Although she is an experienced head, this was Kersten’s first official call-up to the squad and she did not disappoint plying her trade both in centre and wing defence. The 31-year-old was a real workhorse for the Ferns and injected a real sense of intensity and commitment, chasing down every loose ball and hustling hard. She was never out of the contest with her three-foot marking and deceptive speed off the mark enabling her to transition the ball through court in a heartbeat. When in centre, Kersten displayed her impressive ability to deliver the ball on a silver platter to the likes of Wilson and Ameliaranne Ekenasio given her deft touch and sheer netball nous while defensively her pressure was immense not giving her opponent a single inch. Vying to replace Laura Langman, Kersten proved she definitely has the calibre, play making skills and defensive capabilities to be a real threat for the Ferns on a consistent basis.

Laura Malcolm:

Often an unsung hero for the Roses, Malcolm stepped up to the plate this series taking every opportunity that came her way with open arms. Her movement at the centre pass and skill to read the play enabled her to slice up the attacking third and create attacking forays. She was unfazed when it came to delivering into the circle able to dish off pinpoint passes from both the pocket or top of the circle. Her one-two punch around the circle was paramount to the Roses while her turn of speed also enabled her to leave her opponent in the dust and push forward. Her hot hand was evident throughout the series, racking up 49 goal assists credit to her clever ball placement and connections with Cardwell, Fisher and Drakeford-Lewis. Her defensive tendencies also came to the fore in patches, working hard in transition to slow up the Ferns and apply hands over pressure.

Defence:

Sulu Fitzpatrick:

After a stellar 2020 ANZ Premiership season, Fitzpatrick made a real impact for the Ferns using her aerial ability to get up to the high balls and swat them away. She notched up her first start in international netball and rewarded the Ferns with her continuous effort, hunt for the loose ball and physicality. Fitzpatrick worked in overdrive using her nippy footwork to manoeuvre around her opponent and create timely tips and deflections. Her rebounding presence was also key to her performance throughout the series while her deceptively long arms enabled her to put up a strong three foot mark. The goal keeper also found herself out in goal defence for patches with her tenacity not wavering and also showcased her drive through the centre third to deliver the ball into the attacking third. She managed an impressive 13 gains across the three games with four of them intercepts.

Razia Quashie:

This was really a coming of age performance by Quashie who proved to be a real powerhouse in defence repelling a number of Ferns attacking forays. Her strength in the air was almost unstoppable able to compete and drag in those big rebounds, often turning her body inside out to get hands to ball. Her classy footwork was another key component of her performance able to dance around Wilson to confuse the space and push her up high in the circle. Quashie covered the court with great ease, able to go out hunting and pick off passes while her three-foot lean allowed her to get in the head of the Ferns shooters. her long arms and partnership with Fran Williams steadily developed throughout the series as the duo created a strong wall to force the Ferns wide such was their footwork.