AFTER a busy year of international netball and domestic competitions such as Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) and ANZ Premiership, we cast an eye over who our top 15 netballers in the world are based purely on 2019 form. The list is composed of five defenders, shooters and midcourters. This is purely an opinion based piece, taking into consideration the players we perceive to have the greatest impact on court.
1. Karla Pretorius – GD
The South African goal defence is arguably the best in the world with her impressive speed and netball nous. She can turn a game on its head with a single intercept and consistently wears her opponents out with her defensive pressure and impeccable timing. She had a stellar SSN season with 69 intercepts, highlighting her ability to influence the game time and time again. Pretorius is renowned for her intense pressure across all areas of the court and nice lean over the shot to cause doubt in the opposition’s mind.
2. Laura Langman – C
Langman is like a fine wine, constantly getting better with age and able to win a match off her own individual performance. Her endurance and sheer netball smarts sets her a world apart from her opponents, able to manoeuvre her way around the court seamlessly and have an impact on and off the ball. Both her offensive and defensive work is impeccable, able to pick up timely intercepts (16) and deflections (33) during the SSN season, while also plying her trade in the attacking end with her carefully crafted passes into the goal circle.
3. Gretel Tippett – GA
The Australian Diamonds and Queensland Firebirds goal attack is one of a kind. Her silky movement across the court turns heads while her unpredictability causes headaches for opposition teams. Tippett does not take a backwards step, fighting hard for prime position under the post while using her speed and strength to outmuscle opponents. Her aerial ability is impressive, able to reel in errant passes, and her footwork enables her to edge closer to the post. her accuracy has increased in leaps and bounds with 394 goals from 411 attempts throughout the SSN season, sitting at 96 per cent accuracy.
4. Katrina Rore – WD/GD/GK
The Silver Ferns defender has stood up to the challenge more times than not and has proven that she can have an impact no matter where she is on the court. Her versatility and long reach make her incredibly tough to match up on, able to apply a mountain-load of pressure throughout the course of a game. She oozes class and experience and can sense the moment to take a game changing intercept or deflection, with 33 intercepts and 77 deflections in the ANZ Premiership alone.
5. Liz Watson – WA/C
Watson is one of the world’s best wing attacks with her strength a key element of her game play. Although she is not the speediest player on court, her timing is undeniable along with her play-making ability and vision, amassing a whopping 430 goal assists during the SSN season. Her hustle for prime position on the circle edge is an essential part of her gameplay while her ball placement is clever and precise.
6. Maria Folau – GS/GA
Renowned as the long bomb specialist, Folau can turn a game on its head within a blink of an eyelid thanks to her accuracy, lovely shot and confidence. She is not afraid to back herself from range while her footwork and general netball smarts are second to none, able to flick the ball around and reposition with ease. She is the go to girl when the going gets tough, able to withstand the pressure and think her way through the defence.
7. Jane Watson – GK/GD
The Silver Ferns defender went from strength to strength both on an international and domestic level. Her timing is a key feature of her game, with an ability to judge when to leap for a rebound or race for an intercept. Watson is composed under pressure and can shut down an opponent with her smothering pressure and clever movement around the body to limit goal circle entry. She racked up 40 intercepts and 96 deflections throughout her ANZ Premiership campaign, highlighting her tenacity and skill.
8. Serena Guthrie – C
Guthrie’s athletic prowess is simply undeniable, constantly springing into action and throwing her body on the line to win a ball or take a flying intercept. She is a real energiser bunny, able to control the midcourt with her movement through the middle third in particular. Her ball placement into the circle is pinpoint, able to slice through the defence with her carefully crafted passes.
9. Ash Brazill – WD/C
The wing defence turned centre well and truly announced herself this season, both on the international stage and domestic level at SSN. She stood up when the Magpies needed her, slotting into centre and taking full advantage of her athletic traits such as her leap and high endurance base. Brazill backs herself in the contest, hunting any cross-court ball that comes her way and applies a mountain load of pressure on circle edge to block the feeder’s vision.
10. Geva Mentor – GK
Mentor continues to get better as time goes on, using her footwork to cleanly get around the body of opponents and read the play to pick off passes coming into the defensive third. Her intimidating lean over the shot creates doubt in the goalers’ minds while her ability to read the play and take intercepts is highly impressive, able to repel the ball from streaming down the court. Her on-court leadership is integral to her style of play, relishing the opportunity to lead from the front but struggled to maintain a four quarter presence at times throughout the year.
11. Lenize Potgieter – GS
Despite her unconventional shooting style, the South African goaler is accurate to post and able to score freely if given enough time and space. She is a clever mover, able to exploit free space in the goal circle and use her footwork to edge closer to the post. Potgieter is an impact player able to command the ball and convert even when under pressure, as seen throughout the ANZ Premiership slotting 596 goals at 90 per cent. Although she is not fond of the body work and physicality Potgieter stood up to the challenge for the SPAR Proteas and Southern Steel.
12. Shamera Sterling – GK
The dynamic defender is an excitement machine. Her athletic prowess knows no end, able to get up ridiculously high to intercept passes or deflect the ball. Her lanky arms and deceptive speed took the SSN by storm, racking up a season-high 120 deflections and 68 intercepts. She can really spark a side into action with her read of the play and while she is only slight in stature she can hold her own to gobble up rebounds but will have to adjust her temperament to have a continued impact.
13. Courtney Bruce – GK/GD
Bruce was ravaged with injury throughout 2019, but proved to be an impact player when fit, able to tear a game wide open with her dynamic movement, strength and hunt for the ball. Renowned for her physicality she can be costly at times giving the ball away but the defender is a real barometer for her side given her on-court leadership, impressive lean over the shot and injection of speed.
14. Caitlin Bassett – GS
Captain of the Australian Diamonds, Bassett is one of the most consistent performers under the post at both an international and domestic level however she struggled to hit her straps until late into the season. Returning from a wrist injury, Bassett took some time to warm up and capture her dominant form however her composed nature and clever footwork along the goal line is highly impressive to watch. Her strength under the post steadily developed since returning from injury, making her a key target in the circle for the Diamonds and GIANTS.
15. Jhaniele Fowler – GS
The towering Jamaican goal shooter has proven that she is hard to stop if given time and space. Her height is unrivalled with many defenders unable to match her in the air while her accuracy under the post is highly commendable, hardly missing a shot in 2019 and converting 709 goals from 753 attempts at 94 per cent. Although she does not stray far from underneath the post which can be seen as her weakness at times, Fowler is a commanding presence who is all but a surety with ball in hand.
With only 15 spots available it was a tricky decision to leave out the likes of Jo Harten, Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Paige Hadley after all three players had an impressive season for both their country and domestic club.
Jo Harten – GS/GA
The England Roses shooter did not have the same impact as previous seasons but was still reliable to post, backing herself from anywhere in the circle and using her timing to pose a dominant threat under the ring. She showcased her versatility, switching between goal shooter and attack across competitions and can be a real playmaker with her impressive vision and netball sense to place the ball to the advantage of her teammates.
Ameliaranne Ekenasio – GA/GS
The talented goaler left no stone unturned this year, able to have an influence across the court with her gliding movement and accuracy to post. She was unfazed by the pressure, rocking back on the shot and showcasing her composure to create clever plays across the court.
Paige Hadley – C/WA
The talented midcourter narrowly missed out after a strong 2019 SSN campaign, with her game sense and strength on full display. She lifted her intensity running hard both defensively and offensively making her a key cog in attack, relishing the extra space she found playing in centre as opposed to her regular position of wing attack.