Tag: lauren nourse

Netball fantasy teams: All-Star Queensland teams

OVER the years there have been a multitude of stars pulling on the Firebirds dress and while the Lightning are still relatively new to the netball world compared to their state rivals, Sunshine Coast have had some A-list players come through the doors. Draft Central has comprised two teams filled with past and present players to create the ultimate Queensland rivalry line-up.

Queensland Firebirds:

GK: Laura Geitz
GD: Clare McMeniman
WD: Gabi Simpson
C: Kim Ravaillion
WA: Lauren Nourse
GA: Gretel Bueta
GS: Romelda Aiken

BENCH: Nat Medhurst, Chelsea Pitman, Rebecca Bulley

The Firebirds are one of the most successful clubs in netball history winning three ANZ Premiership grand finals but have struggled to have the same influence since the inception of Suncorp Super Netball. But that has not stopped a high calibre of players from gracing the court. It is no surprise former Firebirds and Diamonds captain, Laura Geitz gets the nod at goal keeper with the highly talented defender in a league of her own. Geitz was a key contributor the Firebirds’ continued success throughout the ANZ Championship with her impressive on court leadership, tenacity and cleanliness to attack the ball. Partner in crime Clare McMeniman takes out the goal defence position thanks to her impressive timing on court, ability to read the play and tagging style of defence. The two were renowned for their immense pressure over the shot, ability to switch things up in the defensive circle and undeniable attack. Current captain, Gabi Simpson is set to pull on the wing defence position with her sheer athleticism constantly on display. Her aerial skills and speed off the mark make her a tough opponent, while her strength around the circle edge adds another element to her game play. Although she made the move to the Magpies in 2017, Kim Ravaillion was a staple in the Firebirds line-up with the gut running centre well and truly leaving her mark on the competition, helping to push her side to grand final victory in 2016. Her good vision and delivery into the circle made her just about unstoppable from anywhere on the court consistently creating something out of nothing. Ravaillion’s high level of endurance, netball smarts and defensive pressure are heer most prominent attributes. In wing attack is none other than Lauren Nourse. The former Diamonds representative possessed some real class around the circle edge with her slick hands, quick footwork and solid positioning in the attacking third.  Moving into the goal circle is arguably one of the most dynamic duos netball has seen. Dynamo Gretel Bueta takes out the goal attack position with the 191cm shooter owning the goal circle with her energy and exciting game style. Bueta is no average goaler, willing to take on the contest and use her athleticism to outmuscle opponents time again. Her combination with Romelda Aiken is second to none with the two connecting seamlessly. Aiken has been a long-standing servant of the club with her commanding height, high volume of shots and relative accuracy doing wonders for the Firebirds. Throw in her ability to get up to the high balls and consistently deliver even under pressure and Aiken was a sure start. Unlucky not to get the starting nod is current Magpies goaler Nat Medhurst with the smooth mover an integral member in the squad’s earlier success while Roses wing attack Chelsea Pitman also finds herself on the bench. Rounding out the team is Rebecca Bulley and while she only spent a short amount of time with the club had an influence on court.

 

Sunshine Coast Lightning:

GK: Geva Mentor
GD: Karla Pretorius
WD: Maddy McAuliffe
C: Laura Langman
WA: Kelsey Browne
GA: Steph Wood
GS: Caitlin Bassett

BENCH: Cara Koenen, Laura Scherian, Phumza Maweni

Despite only being around for three years the Sunshine Coast have played host to a number of international stars that have helped shape their impressive legacy. Much like their state rivals, the Lightning won back-to-back grand finals in 2017 and 2018 announcing themselves as true competitors. Although she has now departed the club, Roses star Geva Mentor was an easy choice to get the start at goal keeper. Standing at 191cm the defender oozes class and composure under pressure and is clean across the court able to manoeuvre around her opponent and force turnovers with her lanky arms. She is strong under the post and has an uncanny ability to read the play and disrupt the attacking flow. Arguably the world’s best goal defence, Karla Pretorius takes the bib thanks to her dynamic movement, go-go gadget arms, read of the play and ability to make something out of nothing. She is one of the most exciting defenders to watch with her unpredictable nature and attacking mindset constantly on display. Maddy McAuliffe pulls on the wing defence position with her defensive pressure and three-foot marking while New Zealand superstar Laura Langman takes the cake at centre. Langman is renowned for her impressive endurance, play making ability, change of direction and sheer athleticism. Her ability to sense the moment and stand up to the pressure is unfathomable consistently able to deliver the ball on a platter to the attackers while her defensive pressure to block the attacking forays makes her the complete package. Moving into wing attack is speedster Kelsey Browne and while she made the move to Collingwood her impact and influence throughout 2017 and 2018 was unquestionable. Her skill to persistently hit the circle edge, dart around the court and use her quick footwork to reposition made her hard to stop. Browne was a real pocket rocket for the Lightning connecting well with Steph Wood. The goal attack is a smooth mover, able to glide across the court and set up plays thanks to her spatial awareness and general netball nous and while she may not put up a wealth of shots, she has an uncanny ability to sense the moment and deliver. The goal shooter position goes to Diamonds captain Caitlin Bassett with the towering goaler a commanding presence under the post. Her long limbs, strong holds and consistency to put up a high volume of shots makes her a challenging prospect for opponents. On the bench is young up and coming star Cara Koenen who burst onto the scene last year with her strong movement, clean hands and accuracy to post while Laura Scherian takes out the midcourt position. Spar Proteas representative Phumza Maweni finalises the squad with her defensive pressure.

Who would win?

With star players in each position it is hard to separate both sides given the amount of game changers across the court, so it comes down to consistency, something the Firebirds line-up possesses. While the Lightning squad has more international flavour with representatives from New Zealand, England and South Africa the Firebirds boast a well-connected and experienced squad.

Who wins this All-Star battle of the Sunshine State?
Queensland Firebirds
Sunshine Coast Lightning
Created with Quiz Maker

Memorable matches: Silver Ferns defeat Diamonds in double extra-time – 2010 Commonwealth Games

WITH netball taking a back seat to coronavirus in 2020, Draft Central is taking a look back at memorable matches. Next up is the 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medal match in Delhi, India, which saw the 100th test match between the Australian Diamonds and New Zealand Silver Ferns finish in magnificent fashion. For many Australian netball fans, this week’s memorable match is one that would be better left forgotten, with a devastating result for the Diamonds but the ultimate victory for the Ferns.

The two sides were unable to be split from the early stages and though Australia seemed to have the momentum, New Zealand never let up in their tough approach and whittled down the margin bit by bit to keep the Diamonds on their toes. With scores locked at 47 apiece at the end of regular time and the Diamonds fighting from seven goals down in the final term, the match would go on to be one of the longest ever official matches coming to 84 minutes in double extra-time.

Defensively the Aussies were on fire early, with Mo’onia Gerrard leading from the front, collecting loose ball left, right and centre, while Susan Fuhrmann stayed back in the goal circle keeping a crucial eye on Irene van Dyk. But while van Dyk was kept quiet, only shooting the 25 goals, Maria Folau had something to prove, providing that crucial long-range shot to shoot up a storm from anywhere in the circle. Folau finished the match with a whopping 41 goals from 50 attempts, well and truly dominating at the post with her silky movement and ability to not just finish plays, but also create them.

For the Diamonds, captain Sharelle McMahon had a stellar start credit to her cleanliness with ball in hand and quick footwork, aided by Lauren Nourse and Nat Medhurst out in goal attack, with the goaling duo influential against the Ferns’ defensive unit which had a slow start. But as it goes with the likes of Casey Kopua and Katrina Rore, they can never be discredited with the work they do off the ball, working their way into the game and proving to be a massive defensive threat to the Diamonds at the post on every opportunity later in the game to close the margin.

Through the midcourt, Renae Ingles was on fire in the first half blocking Temepara Bailey at every turn and using her hands over pressure and bodywork to force errors which the Diamonds took advantage of, seeing a combined eight crucial deflections from Gerrard and Fuhrmann. New Zealand centre Laura Langman was her usual workhorse self, constantly there to apply pressure on Natalie Bode in centre and create that run down the middle of the court.  The change through the midcourt in the second half had an immediate impact, with Anna Scarlett and Liana Leota replacing Joline Henry and Bailey respectively.

While Australia was ahead for majority of the early stages of the match, New Zealand flipped the switch in the third to lead at three quarter time, leading 35-33 after the major switch up to the midcourt unit saw the Diamonds fade away as tiredness began to set in. Cath Cox and Kim Green entered the court in the final term to have an immediate impact, pairing well with McMahon who topscored for the Diamonds with 30 goals at 88 per cent accuracy. The trio’s ability to move through the space was second to none, while Cox and McMahon’s experience together and respective ability to split and evade their opposition saw the unit play out the rest of the match – almost 25 more minutes than a regular game. 

Painful to watch for so many as the clock wound down in the second half of overtime, Australia had its chances to collect the win but the Ferns were just relentless in their pursuit for their second Commonwealth gold, denying Cox a goal to win the match and daring to go into double extra time, with the clock essentially stopped until one team was two goals ahead.

With the overall game time edging over 80 minutes and the two sides still going goal for goal, a final shot from Folau saw the Ferns take out the game with a crucial -and her specialty – long-range shot that rang true to finish in the most dramatic of fashions, ending with the ultimate celebration for the Ferns and devastation for the Aussies, 66-64. The gold medal match came to a head to be one of the greatest matches in recent history between the Trans-Tasman rivals.

AUSTRALIA 10 | 13 | 10 | 14 (47)
Extra time: 6 | 5 (58) | 6 (64)

NEW ZEALAND 9 | 11 | 15 | 12 (47)
Extra time: 5 | 6 (58) | 8 (66)

STARTING SEVEN

Australia
GS: Sharelle McMahon
GA: Nat Medhurst
WA: Lauren Nourse
C: Natalie Bode
WD: Renae Ingles
GD: Mo’onia Gerrard
GK: Susan Fuhrmann

BENCH: Cath Cox, Kim Green, Bec Bulley, Laura Geitz, Susan Pettitt
COACH: Norma Plummer

New Zealand
GS: Irene van Dyk
GA: Maria Folau
WA: Temepara Bailey
C: Laura Langman
WD: Joline Henry
GD: Casey Kopua
GK: Katrina Rore

BENCH: Anna Scarlett, Liana Leota (Nee Barrett-Chase), Leana de Bruin, Grace Rasmussen
COACH: Ruth Aitken

SHOOTING STATS

Australia:
Cath Cox 20/26
Sharelle McMahon 30/34
Nat Medhurst 14/18

New Zealand:
Maria Folau 41/50
Irene van Dyk 25/29

Top 5 Australian midcourters from 90s to now

THROUGHOUT Diamonds history there has been a host of star players rotate through the midcourt, particularly the centre and wing attack positions. Since entering a new decade we decided to rank the top five midcourters from 1990 to now. This is an opinion-based article based on the perceptions of the individual writer and how they rank against other centre court players.

#1 Kim Green
Green was a main-stay in the Australian Diamonds midcourt, from making her debut in 2008 to her international retirement in 2015. With extraordinary timing and skill to boot combined with an uncanny ability to create something out of nothing, Green made the wing attack position her own. She could turn on a dime and deliver pin point passes time and time again. Green was a fierce competitor, unfazed by the physical nature of the game and instead thriving on it. Although the latter half of her career was marred by injury she consistently displayed her cleanliness with ball in hand and game making ability. She was renowned for her impressive timing, able to drive hard to the top of the circle and use her dynamic change of pace to create space in the attacking third. Green had arguably one of the safest sets of hands in Diamonds history, able to reel in errant passes while her balance was second to none. She was a real playmaker and provided a steady head, lowering her eyes and delivering bullet passes. The talented wing attack capped off her career with two World Cup championships and a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games.

#2 Nat von Bertouch
The talented centre was not afraid to take the game on, using her ball speed and quick footwork to beat her opponent. Von Bertouch was a class above many of her competitors, using her experience and leadership to dictate space in the attacking third and create opportunities inside the goal circle. She worked hard to secure prime position at the top of the circle while also plying her trade defensively to limit her opponents’ free-flowing movement. The former Diamond had speed to burn along with high endurance, allowing her to run the court with ease and making her hard to stop when on song. Credit to her dominance on the international scene, von Bertouch led the Diamonds to back-to-back World Cup victories while also being handed the reins as inaugural captain of the Adelaide Thunderbirds. She was dynamic across the court, often instigating the forward thrusts and threading the ball through the defensive pressure.

#3 Madi Browne
Browne is the gift that keeps on giving, able to deliver on both an international and domestic stage. Despite donning the wing attack bib more often in the latter half of her career the talented midcourt player can also cause damage in centre, using her signature balks and vision to pierce the defensive unit. She is strong around the circle edge, able to ward off her opponents and command the ball to allow the goalers to reposition. Browne is not afraid to deliver risky passes credit to her high level of execution and netball nous. Her timing and acceleration is a key element of her gameplay, able to break away from defenders and create free space. Although she is not the most athletic player her smarts and ball use are second to none, hardly ever wasting a ball. Throughout her time with the Diamonds, Browne won a gold and silver medal from the 2014 and 2018 Commonwealth Games respectively.

#4 Lauren Nourse
It is hard to deny the brilliance and craftiness of the former Queensland Firebirds and Diamonds midcourt star. Although she suffered her fair share of injuries throughout her career she provided plenty of magic moments, able to deliver the ball with precision. She fought hard to claim prime position on the circle edge and used her speed to dart around the court and have an impact at every stage. Her on-court leadership was a crucial element of her game play, often directing traffic in the attacking third. Nourse was dynamic across the court, able to set up plays and use her quick footwork to manoeuvre around her player to receive the ball. She won a Commonwealth Games gold medal in 2007 and continued that dominant form at a domestic level, leading the Firebirds to multiple finals appearances.

#5 Kim Ravaillion
The former Queensland Firebirds centre and now Collingwood midcourter has speed and endurance to boot. Ravaillion is renowned for her ability to run her opponent ragged credit to her impressive stamina and tagging mindset. While she is not the most attacking centre the defensive work she does off the centre pass is second to none, clogging up space and using her three-foot marking to block the vision of her opponents. Despite not being the flashiest player she has proven to be a key cog through the midcourt and often acting as the link between the defence and attacking end. In her prime you could always count on her to pull something out of the bag and hunt any cross-court ball that came her way. Her speed on transition is second to none while her crafty ball placement in the circle is a key feature of her game, able to release with confidence. At 26 she already has a Commonwealth gold and silver medal to her name and will be looking to add to her collection in years coming.

Crossing the Trans-Tasman: Ameliaranne Ekenasio

FORMER Queensland Firebirds shooter and Bundaberg product, Ameliaranne Ekenasio has found her feet across the ditch with the Central Pulse in New Zealand. The talented shooter has proven she can shoot the lights out on a netball court and is not afraid to turn and take the long bomb.

It was not until the age of 12 that Ekenasio picked up a netball and decided that it was in fact something that she enjoyed and a sport that she wanted to pursue.

“I didn’t come into the game with any understanding so I’d definitely call myself a late bloomer,” she said.

Coming from the small town of Bundaberg, Ekenasio knew that if she wanted to make the most of her netball dream she would have to move away from home and put it all on the line.

“Like we were only a small town so if you ever wanted to make it we had to go out to bigger games and getting competition and all that kind of stuff,” she said. “So when I was 18 I decided to move to try and play a bit more netball because I knew I was never going to be able to go anywhere playing in my hometown.”

Moving away from her family proved to be a big moment in her life but it paid dividends, as she was quickly picked up by the Queensland Firebirds in 2011. She spent four years at the club, but she struggled to get court time due to the star power across the court for the Firebirds.

“I wasn’t going forward, I wasn’t really going backwards, I was in it but I wasn’t playing and it was a really hard time for me,” she said.

Though times were challenging, Ekenasio relished the opportunity to play and train alongside netball greats, Laura Geitz, Clare McMeniman and Lauren Nourse who were a staple in the Australian Diamonds squad.

“I think I learned more in that stint from the girls I was surrounded by, we had some amazing leaders like Laura Geitz, Clare McMeniman, Lauren Nourse… so I think I’m really blessed, even though I wasn’t playing I felt like I still had such a crucial part to play in the team,” she said.

“They legit became my idols but I knew them too, which was really cool because the way that I idolised them and the way that I knew them was the same so I didn’t look at them as these amazing netballers as they were, but also as these amazing strong women who were vocal about what’s important and stood up for us young ones, and really drove us to be the best we could,” she said.

At the end of 2014, Ekenasio left the Firebirds and made the transition across the Trans-Tasman to the Central Pulse and has not looked back since. Now in her fourth season with the club, she has proven to be an integral player in the Pulse line-up credit to her smooth movement in the goal circle, ability to turn and shoot and general netball knowledge.

“I’m one of the leaders in the team, I’m one of the more experienced ones here, and I feel like it came really, really quick, but I think in that respect I’m really looking forward to seeing what impact I can have on our young ones,” she said.

“We have lots of young ones in our team, and kind of seeing how I can carry myself and what I can do to really have an impact on what’s created here, because that’s who it’s created by, it’s really your most experienced players and your leaders.”

With plenty of youth in the side Ekenasio has taken one of the most exciting young prospects at the club, Aliyah Dunn under her wing. The talented goaler is shaping to be one of New Zealand’s most prominent and prolific shooters in the competition.

“I think the best thing for me to do for her is just keep it enjoyable, while still trying to push her to be better in games,” she said. “So as long as we can just fix little things, little things along the way that could improve like our connection, I think that would be really good, I just want to keep encouraging her because I think she’s going to be amazing,” she said.”

The Pulse are also rich in experience off the court with specialist coach Irene Van Dyk amongst the mix. Van Dyk is renowned for her deadly accuracy under the post, impeccable timing and sheer ability to dominate a game.

“Irene has been around for so long and done so much so we’ve got a huge amount of respect for her,” she said. “So it’s just cool having her around, and she’s got this kind of thing about her that whenever she speaks that everyone really listens.”

While Van Dyk offers great knowledge she also provides that calming figure around the club when times are tricky.

“She’s just like-she’s such a mum! Sometimes when we’ve played a really rough game and, you know, you can go and give her a big hug and that’s really nice,” she said.

The Pulse narrowly missed out on the title last year after a dominant season and Ekenasio is hoping that 2019 will bring a change of events.

“I’m kind of looking forward to seeing what pipped us at the post last year so that that doesn’t happen again, that we actually deal with it along the way,” she said.

Currently the Pulse are sitting pretty on top of the ladder and are set to take on the Northern Stars in what is shaping to be a top of the table clash.

READ PART 2 HERE for the next chapter in Ekanasio’s life which features international selection and motherhood.

Diamonds H2H Battle: 2000s vs 2010s

WITH the upcoming Netball World Cup looming, we decided to take a trip down memory lane and come up with our definitive Diamonds of the 2000s side and Diamonds of the 2010s (so far) side. Both sides consist of some familiar names, with players put in a specific side based on when they played the brunt of their international netball career.

The 2000s side consists of a number of household names in Australian netball, with three of Australia’s elite most-capped players taking the court. Sharelle McMahon, Liz Ellis and Cath Cox have almost 350 caps between them, more than half the amount of the entire 2010s’ starting seven. Shooters Cox and McMahon dominated in goals together for the majority of the 2000s, while Ellis, with the help of key defenders through the years, Mo’Onia Gerrard and Peta Squire, remained the stalwart backend goal keeper throughout her ten years in the side. Though Gerrard and Squire played majority of their respective careers in goal defence, both players took the court in wing defence towards the later end of their time as Diamonds. Natalie Bode stole the top spot of centre, with 76 caps to her name and captaining the side from 2010 – 2012. Lauren Nourse took the last starting position on court at wing attack. Despite only 25 caps for the Diamonds, Nourse was clinical at circle edge when paired with Bode.

More familiar names line the bench, with the likes of defenders, Bianca Chatfield, Susan Fuhrmann, Alison Broadbent and Janine Ilitch all in the side based on their respective successful stints in the Diamonds throughout the course of the 2000s. Eloise Southby-Halbish was the only other shooter to be named in the 2000s list, playing second fiddle to the dominant pairing of Cox and McMahon throughout her career and collecting 34 caps to her name.

 

Diamonds team of 2000s:

GS: Cath Cox (2002 – 2014), 108 caps
GA: Sharelle McMahon (1998 – 2011), 118 caps
WA: Lauren Nourse (2007 – 2011), 25 caps
C: Natalie Bode (nee von Bertouch) (2004 – 2013), 76 caps
WD: Peta Squire (1999-2004), 54 caps
GD: Mo’Onia Gerrard (2004 – 2013), 68 caps
GK: Liz Ellis (1993 – 2007), 122 caps

BENCH:

Bianca Chatfield (2001 – 2009), 42 caps
Eloise Southby-Halbish (1998 – 2006), 34 caps
Janine Ilitch (1995 – 2006), 51 caps
Susan Fuhrmann (2006 – 2011), 33 caps
Alison Broadbent (2001 – 2006), 28 caps

 

The Diamonds of the 2010s (so far) is just as star-studded as the 2000s list, with a number of familiar faces in the line-up; some retired but some still taking the court. Champion, Laura Geitz has been selected in goal keeper, seamlessly taking over from the likes of Ellis through the late 2000s. Joining Geitz in defence is Bec Bulley and Renae Ingles, who were both first named in the Diamonds line-up in the late 2000s, but were pivotal in the early 2010s. Taking the court in goals is speedster Nat Medhurst and current Diamonds captain, Caitlin Bassett, who is already at 90 caps for her career and showing no signs of slowing down, sitting in the top ten most capped Australian players alongside Ellis, McMahon, Cox and Medhurst. Nabbing centre and wing attack are Kim Ravaillion and Kim Green, respectively. Ravaillion applies plenty of defensive pressure throughout the centre court and her effective ball movement helps produce turnovers, while Green’s speed and grit through the midcourt and attacking third helped to boost goal shooting opportunities.

On the bench are some well-known players who just missed out on a starting position due to the number of caps they have played. Goal attack Susan Pettitt has shared the role with Medhurst and McMahon throughout the years, with Medhurst pipping her at the post this time with more caps to her name. Caitlin Thwaites has also been effective on the Diamonds stage, but with a number of dominant goalers shooting at high accuracy throughout the past 20 years, has been overshadowed on court by the likes of Cox and Bassett. Defenders Sharni Layton and Julie Corletto also dominated while on the court, narrowly missing out on a starting positions. The final player in the 2010 side is Madi Robinson who stepped up in the absence of Kim Green, with her ability to get ball to post quickly and use the angles to set up clever plays.

 

Diamonds team of 2010s:

GS: Caitlin Bassett (2008 – present), 90* caps
GA: Natalie Medhurst (2007 – 2017), 86 caps
WA: Kim Green (2008 – 2015), 74 caps
C: Kim Ravaillion (2013 – present), 57* caps
WD: Renae Ingles (nee Hallinan) (2009 – 2017), 57 caps
GD: Bec Bulley (2005 – 2015), 42 caps
GK: Laura Geitz (2008 – 2018), 71 caps

BENCH:

Sharni Layton (2009 – 2017), 46 caps
Julie Corletto (nee Prendergast) (2007 – 2015), 42 caps
Susan Pettitt (2006 – 2018), 71 caps
Caitlin Thwaites (2012 – present), 47* caps
Madi Robinson (nee Browne) (2009 – 2018), 61* caps

*At time of publish