Tag: maddy proud

What if … the 2019 season was not riddled by ACL injuries?

2019 PROVED to be the year of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries with a staggering amount of players succumbing to the injury and bringing their season to an abrupt end. With players forced to the sidelines, clubs had to find injury replacements and look to various other leagues such as the Australian Netball League (ANL) and ANZ Premiership to find someone to fill the void of their injured stars. Four out of the eight teams in Suncorp Super Netball got through the season unscathed when it comes to ACL related injuries.

But what if there were not as many ACL injuries? Would the Suncorp Super Netball ladder have looked different?

The Adelaide Thunderbirds were hit pretty hard with English international Beth Cobden struck down early in the season. With a relatively inexperienced line-up and new connections forming across the court it was hard to replace the high calibre player who oozed composure and versatility. Ruled out for the remainder of the season, the Thunderbirds missed her ability to stand up under pressure and think her way through the tricky passages of play. But unfortunately, the injuries did not stop there with youngster and shooting sensation Sasha Glasgow going down in Round 13 with an ACL injury of her own. Prior to that, the 21-year-old showcased her dominance under the post with her strong holds, accuracy to post and rangy shooting abilities. These two key injuries ultimately had an adverse effect on the Thunderbirds’ ability to compete consistently and at the highest level possible.

Despite making it to the finals, 2019 was a season of what ifs for the Magpies and one littered with injuries. Co-captain Madi Browne ruptured her ACL in the pre-season Team Girls Cup and failed to take the court throughout the season and it is fair to say that her presence was well and truly missed out on her court. Her slick ball movement, spatial awareness and dynamism makes her hard to stop when on song. Towards the tail end of the season sister, Kelsey Browne also fell victim to the ACL curse, ruling her out for the remainder of the season and putting a dampener on their finals hopes. It was clear that the connection both Browne sisters had with their goalers and fellow midcourters was lacking despite recruiting the services of Kimiora Poi to help fill the void.

Overall, it was a difficult season for the Firebirds, only winning a handful of games throughout the year and also riddled with injuries. In Round 5 Mahalia Cassidy’s season was cut short with the talented midcourter suffering her second ACL injury. Her speed and endurance was missed across the court with the fancy footed centre court player able to exploit any bit of space and deliver the ball into the goalers. Cassidy’s absence had an impact on the Firebirds’ drive through the middle and reliability with the centre known for her consistent and strong defence.

While the NSW Swifts went on to win the coveted 2019 SSN premiership it was without their inspirational captain Maddy Proud who did her ACL midway through the year. Proud was arguably in career best form with the midcourter consistently showcasing her strength around the circle edge and quick hands. The Swifts showed plenty of grit and determination throughout the season but with recruits like Kayla Cullen and Katrina Rore both plying their trade for the club it put them in good stead to come out on top. The versatility through the midcourt added an extra element of class to the already strong and well-connected Swifts outfit.

If the Thunderbirds were given a clear run at the competition free from injury they could have potentially registered more wins, while Collingwood could have gone further into the finals series given their midcourt depth and versatility. While the Firebirds struggled to generate wins, the option to bring Cassidy on could have given them that extra element of unpredictability to their starting line-up. Although the Swifts reaped in the rewards it would have been interesting to see how they competed with the likes of Proud amongst the mix for a whole season.

Top 15 SSN training partners: #5 Elle Bennetts

WITH a number of netball leagues across the world being suspended due to COVID-19, the Draft Central team is making a case for the top 15 training partners stepping up to the Suncorp Super Netball plate in 2020. Heading up the Top 5 is dual NSW athlete Elle Bennetts, who plays for NSW Swifts in the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) and switches both code and team to GWS GIANTS in the AFL Women’s during the netball off-season.

A talented midcourt speedster, Bennetts was a shoe-in for this list thanks to her ability to come on and impact the game no matter her opposition. One of the older training partners on the list, 30-year-old Bennetts made her Super Netball debut in 2019 and collected another few domestic caps along the way thanks to injuries in the Swifts camp. With cleanliness and good anticipation of both the ball and player, Bennetts is a player who can create as much play as she blocks, able to be a versatile midcourter rotating through wing attack and centre. Bennetts came up through the Victorian pathway, spending six years with the Victorian Fury before heading north to play AFL Women’s, joining the NSW Waratahs’ camp along the way, continuing her time in the Australian Netball League, albeit in a different state.

With an ability to hit circle edge, Bennetts is a threatening attacker with clean hands and balance, while her wingspan allows her to reach for crucial ball and bolster the Swifts midcourt. With plenty of endurance and quick feet to evade opposition, Bennetts is a clean player with plenty of experience and will look to step up from her 2019 form, able to propel the ball down the court and find options in and around the circle to influence the game. Working with the likes of captain Maddy Proud, Diamond Paige Hadley and England Rose, Nat Haythornthwaite, Bennetts has plenty of talented names to learn from as well as recently elevated Sophie Craig, who provides a handy option to work with given she was in the same position last year.


#15 Ashlee Unie (Sunshine Coast Lightning)
#14 Ruby Barkmeyer (Melbourne Vixens)
#13 Tippah Dwan (Queensland Firebirds)
#12 Matisse Letherbarrow (GIANTS Netball)
#11 Chelsea Blackman (Adelaide Thunderbirds)
#10 Sunday Aryang (West Coast Fever)
#9 Latika Tombs (GIANTS Netball)
#8 Sharni Lambden (Collingwood Magpies)
#7 Jacqui Newton (Melbourne Vixens)
#6 Allie Smith (Melbourne Vixens)
#5 Elle Bennetts (GIANTS Netball)

Netball fantasy teams: West Coast Fever All-Stars v. Adelaide Thunderbirds All-Stars

THE West Coast Fever and Adelaide Thunderbirds have a highly decorated history with both clubs boasting a long line of a-class players since their inception. Draft Central has comprised two All-Star teams filled with past and present players.

West Coast Fever:

GK: Courtney Bruce
GD: Eboni Usoro-Brown
WD: Ash Brazill
C: Shae Brown
WA: Madi Browne
GA: Nat Medhurst
GS: Caitlin Bassett

BENCH: Jhaniele Fowler, Stacey Marinkovich, Ama Agbeze

Although they have not tasted a lot of success throughout their time in both the ANZ Championship and Suncorp Super Netball, the West Coast Fever has been home to a wealth of highly talented netballers both from an Australian and international perspective. When it comes to the goal circle the Fever have been littered with stars none bigger than Australian Diamonds captain, Caitlin Bassett. The towering goal shooter really made a name for herself under the post for the Fever with her strong holds, lanky arms and volume. Her connection with teammate and fellow former Diamond Nat Medhurst was near on unstoppable. Medhurst was the real playmaker inside the attacking third with her impressive balance, vision and ability to think two steps ahead of her opponents. While she did not put up a high amount of goals it was her off the ball work that made her such a damaging player.

Moving into wing attack is Madi Browne. The speedy centre court player oozes strength and excellent ball handling skills to deliver the ball with precision to the goalers. Shae Brown was a key contributor for the Fever, spending almost ten years at the club using her energiser bunny speed to dart around the court and cause havoc. The centre proved that she could run all day and was not afraid to put in the hard yards taking the strong drive to the top of the goal circle. It is no surprise that wing defence come centre Ash Brazill gets the start in the All-Star Fever team given her sheer athleticism, speed off the mark and ability to make something out of nothing. Brazill quickly developed into one of the most influential players with her defensive pressure constantly on show and desperation to attack the ball.

Down in defence is England Roses goal defence Eboni Usoro-Brown who is renowned for her body on body pressure, physicality under the post and ability to pick off intercepts. She is light on her feet and uses her long arms to cause confusion for the feeders looking into the circle. Current captain and Diamonds keeper, Courtney Bruce takes out the goal keeper position thanks to her tenacity and impressive leap. She does not take a backwards step on the court, consistently looking to take on the physical tussle and use her quick footwork to get around the body of her opponents and force tips and turnovers.

Rounding out the team is Jamaican shooting powerhouse Jhaniele Fowler along with former England Roses captain Ama Agbeze, while coach and former midcourter Stacey Marinkovich also earned herself a spot on the All-Star team.

Adelaide Thunderbirds:

GK: Sharni Layton
GD: Mo’onia Gerrard
WD: Renae Ingles
C: Natalie Bode (nee von Bertouch)
WA: Chelsea Pitman
GA: Erin Bell
GS: Maria Folau

BENCH: Carla Borrego, Maddy Proud, Rebecca Bulley

Over the years the Adelaide Thunderbirds have added to their trophy cabinet and experienced their fair share of success. With that success has come some highly talented players filtering through the club such as former Australian goal keeper Sharni Layton. She was one of the most dynamic and physical defenders in the game, renowned for her constant niggle and innate ability to go screaming out for an intercept. Her constant movement, hands over pressure and sheer pressure was a focal point of her game much like her defensive counterpart Mo’onia Gerrard. The goal defence was strong both in the air and at ground level, hustling for every ball that came her way and not giving her opponent an inch. Gerrard used her speed off the mark to force turnovers and apply pressure.

In at wing defence is none other than Renae Ingles. Arguably one of the most profound and impactful wing defences in the competition Ingles was the heart and soul of the Thunderbirds for many years, thanks to her on-court leadership and netball nous. Her go-get it attitude, long reaching arms and innate ability to sense the moment and make something special happen was second to none. Another former captain in Natalie Bode takes out the centre position with the dynamic midcourter able to run all day and ply her trade across the court. Her precision ball placement, strength around the goal circle and impressive vision made her hard to stop when on song. While in wing attack is England Roses and current Thunderbirds co-captain Chelsea Pitman. She is a smooth mover, that boasts plenty of class with ball in hand and a high level of execution.

The goal circle is full of long bomb specialists with yet another former T’birds captain and Australian Diamonds shooter, Erin Bell taking out the goal attack position. Her high release sky-scraper shots, silky movement across the court and cool, calm temperament was a key reason to their success. She was not afraid to back herself from range and showcased her spatial awareness every time she was on court. While she only spent one season with the Thunderbirds, Maria Folau had an undeniable impact in the goal circle with the long bomb specialist well and truly living up to her name. Her effortless shooting action and accuracy to post proved to be the key for the Thunderbirds throughout the 2019 season.

On the bench and unlucky not to get a start is defender Rebecca Bulley, renowned for her tagging style of play, while former basketballer Carla Borrego and fan favourite Maddy Proud both also got the call up.

Who would win?

Although the Adelaide Thunderbirds have won more premierships than the West Coast Fever throughout history, it is hard to go past the quality talent on the list. The Fever probably have the upper hand when it comes to goalers with the likes of Fowler, Medhurst and Bassett all at their disposal. Defensively both teams are stacked but the scales tilt towards the Fever given their extra depth.

Who wins this All-Star battle of the West and South?
West Coast Fever
Adelaide Thunderbirds
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What if … Katrina Rore did not join the Swifts?

THE 2019 season of Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) was a drought breaking and historic year for the New South Wales Swifts winning their inaugural SSN premiership but it was not without their fair share of challenges.

The Swifts were dealt plenty of injury blows throughout the season with England Roses wing attack and part time shooter Natalie Haythornthwaite sidelined for a large portion of the season, fellow Roses representative Helen Housby forced to the bench with a leg injury and Kate Eddy dealt a season ending ankle injury. But the biggest blow of them all was that to inspirational leader and captain Maddy Proud with the dynamo centre rupturing her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) midway through the season.

Bruised and battered the Swifts reverted to their up and coming stocks with the likes of Tayla Fraser and Elle Bennetts taking to the court to bolster their line-up. Former Silver Ferns, defender Kayla Cullen also made a brief appearance in the blue, red and white but was just a temporary replacement. While they offered fresh legs and a new perspective on the game the biggest coup of them all was the acquisition of Katrina Rore. Fresh off a premiership with the Central Pulse in the ANZ Premiership, Rore added that extra touch of class around the court while also boasting versatility to move between circle defence and wing defence.

What if Rore did not join the NSW Swifts? Would they have won the premiership?

Although the Swifts were littered with stars, Rore’s influence down in defence was unquestionable with the steady head and experience defender a commanding presence. Her ability to read the play, stand up in the big moments and do the unthinkable is what made her such an influential presence throughout her time in the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN). Rore’s long arms, deceptive speed and high netball IQ played a pivotal role in shutting down opposition attacks.

While she spent the majority of her time out in wing defence, a position she has quickly made her own, her seamless transition into circle defence was something the Swifts made the most out of. Her presence in the goal circle with her lean over the shot, body-on-body physicality and quick feet to manoeuvre around the body created doubt in feeders minds. She was quickly able to adapt to the game play of fellow defenders Maddy Turner and Sarah Klau while the likes of Sophie Craig also had important cameos. Rore has an uncanny tact to go out and hunt the ball, using her impressive timing, long limbs and cleanliness to stop the ball from entering the attacking third with ease while also using her attacking mindset to propel the ball back down the court.

Rore had a game changing impact on the Swifts defensive line-up offering that calming sense down back when things got frantic and pulling out the unthinkable to keep her side afloat. Her experience and netball nous helped to guide the Swifts to victory even when she had a quiet day out on the court. While New South Wales had a solid team with a host of stars in their own right it is fair to say that she was the final piece in the jigsaw puzzle that got them over the line.

Would NSW Swifts have still won the 2019 SSN title without Katrina Rore?
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Netball fantasy team: All-Star Vixens v. All-Star Swifts

THERE is no denying that over the years both the Melbourne Vixens and NSW Swifts have welcomed their fair share of star players and have played in some epic battles to ignite the Sargeant-McKinnis Cup. Therefore, Draft Central has decided to create a fantasy team taking into account players that have been at each respective club for two or more seasons in order to form an all-stars list.

All-Star Melbourne Vixens

GK: Geva Mentor
GD: Bianca Chatfield
WD: Renae Ingles
C: Madi Browne
WA: Liz Watson
GA: Sharelle McMahon
GS: Caitlin Thwaites
BENCH: Mwai Kumwenda, Kate Moloney, Julie Corletto

The Melbourne Vixens have always had a plethora of stars wear the dress since their inception making them one of the biggest powerhouses in Australian netball history. Starting in defence, the influence of Geva Mentor was profound with the English international winning a whopping four best and fairest medals for the club ranging from 2012 to 2017 highlighting just how much of an influence she had down back with her impressive timing, defensive pressure and keen eye for intercepts. Fellow defender Bianca Chatfield was also renowned for her immense pressure over the shot, smothering style of play and ability to create turnovers while wing defence Renae Ingles is in a league of her own. Ingles has simply got better with time, credit to her high level of endurance, speed off the mark and deceptively long arms constantly able to force tips to disrupt any form of attacking flow for the opposition. Prior to joining the black and white in the Suncorp Super Netball, Madi Browne was a key cog in the attack unit for the Vixens with her precise movement, speed and well-weighted passes on full show. Browne is strong around the top of the goal circle able to hustle for position much like fellow teammate in this fantasy side Liz Watson. The wing attack is arguably one of the world’s best when it comes to consistency, vision and most importantly cleanliness hardly ever throwing away balls thanks to her impressive skillset. Talking of impressive skillsets cue Sharelle McMahon, the talented goal attack was a great servant to the Vixens guiding them to a premiership in 2009 with her accuracy to post, smooth movement and reliability on full display. McMahon never failed to disappoint for the Vixens faithful much like goal shooter Cailtin Thwaites who made her much awaited return in 2019 after somewhat of 10 years. Thwaites is consistent under the post, able to use her strength to hold space and most importantly score freely. She is not afraid to back herself from range and uses her quick feet to reposition and go to post. Unlucky not to make the starting seven is Mwai Kumwenda who has been a star for the Vixens since signing with them thanks to her aerial ability along with captain Kate Moloney through the midcourt. When it comes to defence Julie Corletto just missed out given the influence both Mentor and Chatfield at the club.

All-Star NSW Swifts

GK: Sharni Layton
GD: Mo’onia Gerrard
WD: Abbey McColloch
C: Kim Green
WA: Paige Hadley
GA: Susan Pettitt
GS: Catherine Cox
BENCH: Sam Wallace, Maddy Proud, Sonia Mkoloma,

Another powerhouse of netball in Australia is the NSW Swifts who have found their straps in recent seasons winning the premiership last year but have boasted impressive line-ups previously with the likes of Sharni Layton leading the way down back. Although she made the move in 2017 to the Magpies, Layton played a wealth of her career in the red and white where she made a name for herself with her physical style of play and ability to relentlessly hunt the ball. Throw in the likes of Mo’onia Gerrard and the Swifts had one of the toughest defence units given their physical pressure and tenacity. Gerrard was not afraid to put her body on the line throwing herself into every contest that came her way and using her quick feet to get around the body of her opponents. Through the midcourt, former captain Abbey McColloch was solid, consistently able to do the little things well and build pressure with her tagging style of defence. Centre come wing attack, Kim Green was renowned for her ability to do the unthinkable and thread the needle with her impossible passes. Green was in a league of her own and was a key contributor the Swifts early success with her high endurance, speed and workhorse mentality before switching to the GIANTS in 2017. Fellow midcourter Paige Hadley has developed into one of the clubs strongest leaders with her hard work, ability to hustle around the goal circle and versatility to switch between attack and defence with ease. Moving into the goal circle the Swifts boast one of the most stacked line-ups with veteran Susan Pettitt consistently showcasing her ability to glide across the court and hit the scoreboard. Her impressive netball IQ and ability to score from anywhere made her a handful but it is hard to go past the likes of Diamonds star and Swifts favourite Catherine Cox. The goal shooter could turn a game on its head with her accuracy and volume, not afraid to demand the ball under the post with her strong holds and fancy footwork. With so many players to choose from, current Swift Sam Wallace and Maddy Proud were unlucky to not make the starting seven while veteran Sonia Mkoloma just missed out.

Who would win?

It is near on impossible to decide who would win but given the Vixens star power both in the goal circle and defensively, one could argue that the scales would tilt in favour of the Vixens. Having the likes of Thwaites, McMahon under the post puts them in good stead to put up a hefty total while the defensive pressure through the midcourt coming from the likes of Ingles and Chatfield would be hard to quell. However, the Swifts are not without their own star power in the likes of Cox and Layton.

Which All-Star team would win?
All-Star Vixens
All-Star Swifts
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Top 5 Suncorp Super Netball moments of 2019

IN a year filled with milestones and mouth-watering contests we narrowed down five of the top games throughout the 2019 Suncorp Super Netball season. We also saw a host of controversial games with the GIANTS calling for an inquiry into a result and injuries galore.

#1 Sunshine Coast Lightning (47) defeated by NSW Swifts (64) – Grand Final

The New South Wales Swifts made history claiming their first premiership in Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) after defeating two-time premiers Lightning. The Swifts were dealt their fair share of injuries throughout the year with skipper Maddy Proud struck down with an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), Kate Eddy unavailable in the latter half thanks to an ankle injury and Helen Housby missing large chunks but they were never out of the race. They pulled out all the stops when it counted, putting on a dominant display with their slick ball movement, accuracy to post and dynamic movement making for an action packed grand final. Paige Hadley led the troops on the court with her leadership and courage taking the game on at every opportunity while the likes of goal keeper Sarah Klau took her game to a whole new level smothering the Lightning shooters with her arms over pressure and physicality.

# 2 Fever (62) drew with GIANTS (62) – Round 7

The game between the GIANTS and Fever went down to the wire and sparked a wealth of controversy both on and off the court. GIANTS goal shooter, Caitlin Bassett appeared to have slotted the winning goal, but it was not counted with the official time keeper stipulating that the game had in fact ended contrary to the public scoreboard. The game resulted in a draw with the two sides unable to be separated thanks to some convincing performances by respective players. But with differing times, many fans, supporters and players were left confused about whether or not the GIANTS had actually won. It was a tantalising match-up in the circle with Courtney Bruce and Bassett going toe-to-toe for majority of the game and neither giving an inch but the game was ultimately overshadowed thanks to a controversial timing and scoring issue.

#2 Vixens (52) defeated by Collingwood (55) – Round 7

Since their inception into the league the Vixens have had the wood over their cross-town rivals but in Round 7, the Magpies finally broke the drought claiming a narrow three-goal win. It took two years for Collingwood to decipher a plan for their opponents and they well and truly kicked it up a gear in their clash thanks to Geva Mentor owning the defensive end with five intercepts and three rebounds. Meanwhile new recruit, Jamaican goal shooter Shimona Nelson stood tall under the post with a game-high 48 goals to get her side over the line. It also marked the first time that former Collingwood goaler, Caitlin Thwaites faced her old side and despite struggling in the opening minutes found her groove to notch up 31 goals. The Magpies controlled the flow with their clever ball movement and transition down court with the Vixens defenders Emily Mannix and Jo Weston unable to quell the influence of Nelson and play making of Nat Medhurst.

#4 GIANTS (63) defeated Queensland Firebirds (57) – Round 11

It was a high intensity and physical game with both sides renowned for their never say die attitude and ferocity at the contest. It was a solid win for the GIANTS who took care of their lower placed opponents but the main talking point of the round was the innocuous elbow to Gretel Tippett. The star goal attack copped a nasty blow in the opening quarter albeit accidental that sent blood streaming down her face. But like the class act she is, Tippett went off got stitched up and returned to the game not skipping a beat piling on 23 goals straight at 100 per cent accuracy.

#5 Adelaide Thunderbirds (61) defeated West Coast Fever (60) – Round 1

The Adelaide Thunderbirds ended a season and a half losing streak with a one-goal win in Round 1 to put their season in good stead. The Thunderbirds showed that they were new and improved, boasting a stacked line-up of international stars in the likes of Shamera Sterling, Layla Guscoth and Maria Folau while not skimping on the depth with youngster Sasha Glasgow owning the goal circle making for a strong showing against grand finalists Fever. It was an action packed game with both sides not giving an inch and working tirelessly to make the most of every opportunity that came their way but in the end it was the spirit and belief that spurred Adelaide on.

Briony Akle adds to silverware with Coach of the Year award

IN Netball Australia’s night of nights it was NSW Swifts coach Briony Akle that walked away with the Joyce Brown Coach of the Year award thanks to her excellent leadership throughout 2019 guiding her side to premiership glory.

Akle was humbled by the award, paying tribute to the staff behind the scenes at the Swifts and in particular, her assistant coach in Anita Keelan.

“I think this one is a bit different obviously standing up here and getting this award, for me we have created a really wonderful team at the Swifts,” Akle said. “It probably goes back to my performance team as well and Anita Keelan has been by my side and has been amazing. “Yes I love this award but I think it also goes to my team.”

After taking the helm in 2018 Akle built her side up with a combination of international stars and young up-and-coming Australian talent. Season 2019 was no easy feat for the developing coach, faced with a host of key players forced to the sideline. Captain, Maddy Proud tore her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) midway through the season while Kate Eddy suffered a season-ending ankle injury. Star goal attack Helen Housby also missed a large chunk of time after the World Cup with a soft tissue injury while Roses teammate Natalie Haythornthwaite did not take the court for the first half of the season meaning Akle had to rely on her next tier of players to stand up and steer the Swifts. The likes of young guns Sophie Garbin took control in Housby’s absence with Tayla Fraser and Sophie Halpin running rampant in wing attack to fill the void left by Proud. Credit where credit is due, Akle also brought in the big guns to bolster her undermanned line-up with Katrina Rore joining the squad fresh off a gold medal win at the World Cup along with a premiership in the ANZ Premiership with the Central Pulse.

Renowned for their vintage and clinical style of netball, the Swifts were hard to stop credit to their slick ball movement and lack of turnovers making them hard to score against. Akle’s game style allowed each player on court to have an influence and incorporate their own flair into the game while maintaining the Swifts’ signature style.

“For me the main thing is keeping things basic and keeping it real at the end of the day,” Akle said. “As a few people said tonight we have played this game since we were little and for me it’s probably about remembering it and enjoying it.”

Under her reign Sarah Klau also developed making her Diamonds debut along with partner in crime Maddy Turner who pulled on the green and gold in the recent Constellation Cup series, adding further accolades to her growing coaching portfolio.

With a premiership under their belt and a relatively unchanged line-up heading into 2020 the Swifts will be looking to build and go on to bigger and better things with Akle acknowledging the world class talent Suncorp Super Netball has to offer but also backing her side’s dedication and commitment.

“Yeah it’s a tough competition, week in week out you play against the world’s best and it’s keeping that challenge going for the girls and turn up every day,” she said.

Netball Australia Award Predictions

WITH the Australian netball awards season quickly approaching we cast an eye over a host of potential players that could win the prestigious awards ranging from international level to the Australian Netball League (ANL). This article is purely based on opinion and how we perceive each player’s season to have panned out.

Liz Ellis Diamond: Gretel Tippett (Queensland Firebirds)

It is hard to think of another player that has had as great an impact as Gretel Tippett has in the past year, with the talented goal attack taking her game to a whole new level in 2019. The typically explosive shooter owned the court both at international and domestic level, a clear testament to her sheer power, netball nous and dominance no matter her opponent. She broke records, becoming the first Australian to shoot 100 consecutive goals and putting an end to any doubters who questioned her accuracy, along with upping the volume of shots she attempted. Tippett was simply unstoppable when given the time and space and showed she can apply defensive pressure thanks to her three-foot marking and read of the play.

Wing attack and 2018 Liz Ellis Diamond winner Liz Watson also put her best foot forward for the coveted award, thanks to another year full of consistency, clever plays and dynamic movement proving to be a key cog through the midcourt. Her endurance was unquestionable running hard and creating attacking forays to surge her side ahead, but her season failed to have the same individual impact as Tippett.

Australian International Player of the Year: Gretel Tippett (Queensland Firebirds)

With Tippett expected to take out the Liz Ellis Diamond award expect the Firebirds shooter to make it two from two and take home the International Player of the Year award, credit to a stellar season in the green and gold. She was often the point of difference in tight matches, using her physicality and commanding height to full advantage to get under the skin of opponents and capitalise on her opportunities. Tippett did not disappoint in the Constellation Cup, only missing three goals from her 85 attempts at an impressive 96 per cent, highlighting her accuracy to post and class while her performance at the World Cup was unrivalled by any other Diamond. She showcased her versatility moving into goal shooter to become a holding goaler and key target under the post.

Despite missing a couple of games with injury, goal keeper Courtney Bruce was a dominant threat in the defensive goal circle thanks to her immense pressure and ball tracking ability making her a potential winner. Caitlin Thwaites is another player up there for many, and although she did not get a wealth of court time the retiring goal shooter served as a smokey with the fan favourite making an impact each time she took the court with her long range shooting and versatile game style.

Suncorp Super Netball Player of the Year: Karla Pretorius (Sunshine Coast Lightning)

After another big year of Suncorp Super Netball it is hard to narrow down a winner but it is equally as hard to go past Karla Pretorius with the talented goal defence reminding everyone why she is so dominant and exciting to watch. She was a key reason behind the Lightning’s success spurring them into another grand final tilt, albeit falling short. Pretorius lights the court up with her go-go gadget arms, closing speed and ability to pick pocket players making her Draft Central’s number one choice.

Also up there is fellow international and Lightning returnee, Laura Langman. On return, Langman proved to be a key cog through the midcourt and had some impressive games where she well and truly won games off her own back. In her first season of SSN Jamaican recruit Shamera Sterling could also give Pretorius a run for her money with the Adelaide Thunderbirds goal keeper highlighting her class to pick off passes with her lanky arms and impressive leap. Hot on her tail is the likes of Ash Brazill who lifted another gear in 2019 for the Magpies using her electric pace, aerial ability and defensive pressure to remain a threat across the court. Meanwhile NSW Swifts goal shooter Sam Wallace also put her hand up as a potential winner thanks to her cool, calm and collected nature under the post paired with her aerial ability, something which helped the NSW Swifts to their inaugural Super Netball premiership.

Joyce Brown Coach of the Year: Briony Akle (NSW Swifts)

It is no mean feat coaching your side to victory after failing to make the top four the year before, and NSW Swifts coach, Briony Akle well and truly showed it can be done. Akle proved that the mix between international star power and belief in youth was key to success with the likes of ANL players Elle Bennetts, Sophie Halpin and Tayla Fraser all playing a crucial role in their premiership. Despite being hit with a host of injuries with Helen Housby sidelined after World Cup, Maddy Proud relegated to the bench after tearing her ACL and Kate Eddy out with a season ending ankle injury the talented coach pulled it all together only in her second year as head coach.

Grand final opposition coach Noeline Taurua also posed a good candidate taking her side to their third consecutive grand final while the ever-reliable Simone McKinnis could have also been selected but in the end it was hard to deny Akle given her successful 2019 campaign.

Suncorp Super Netball Young Star: Cara Koenen (Sunshine Coast Lightning)

It was a break out season for the 24-year old shooter who well and truly announced herself on the domestic stage, mixing it with some of the world’s best and most talented defenders. Koenen emerged midway through the season as a key player for the Lightning with her height, strong holds and deceptively silky movement a key feature of her game making her a front runner for this year’s Young Star award.

Koenen was no easy pick with the likes of Queensland defensive duo Kim Jenner and Tara Hinchliffe also in contention for the Young Star award given their impressive season, but both suffered injuries forcing them to the sidelines for weeks at a time. Another potential was Sophie Garbin who held her own in her non-preferred position of goal attack in the absence of teammate Housby, using her accuracy to post and strong movement to pose a threat. But none seemed to have the same impact as Koenen who at times was a barometer for the Sunshine Coast with her accuracy, volume and general netball nous.

2019 SSN season team review: NSW Swifts

IT was a fairytale season for the NSW Swifts, claiming their first premiership since 2008. Despite being devastated with injuries throughout the season the Swifts maintained their structures and game plan, treasuring the ball and working it down the court with ease.

Position: 2nd
Percentage: 111.92%


Goal keeper Sarah Klau had a breakout season, imposing herself on the contest up the defensive end with her hands over pressure, rotation through the circle and ability to read the play. Her combination with Maddy Turner steadily developed over the season with the duo posing a dominant threat, nullifying access into the goal circle and picking off passes. Prior to her season-ending ankle injury, Kate Eddy worked wonders with the towering wing defence able to ply her trade in a number of positions and force turnovers with her extra height and deceptive speed. But with Eddy gone the introduction of Katrina Rore paid dividends with the New Zealand international adding extra experience, netball nous and X-factor down back. Captain Maddy Proud’s season was cut short, tearing her Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) in Round 7 and while her absence was sorely missed, English international Nat Haythornthwaite along with Elle Bennetts and Tayla Fraser all did their bit to propel the ball forward. Paige Hadley also lifted her intensity, taking full control of the midcourt in Proud’s absence. Goal attack, Helen Housby was plagued with injury in the latter part of the season but showcased her class and skill to stand up in the big moments and command the ball when needed, while Sam Wallace lifted another gear, working tirelessly under the post. Wallace stood up in the goal circle using her strong holds and accuracy to post to cause havoc for the opposition.

Shining light:

The Trinidad and Tobago goal shooter is no stranger to the big stage, well and truly bringing the heat in season 2019. Cool, calm and composed under the post, Wallace looked unphased by everything that came her way, reeling in lobs and using her silky footwork to manoeuvre around the body of her opponent. She backed herself from range and showed she was not afraid to swing the ball around the circle edge to reposition when needed. Wallace constantly provided an option under the post using her commanding figure to slot goal after goal, making her an integral player for the Swifts.

Predictions 2020:

This year proved that the Swifts have plenty of depth despite being struck by injury time and time again. The likes of Fraser, Sophie Garbin and Turner all showed they have what it takes to make it to the big time and with further court time can clearly develop into stars of the future. The core group of players at the Swifts is already strong meaning the further development of the young up and coming players could cause headaches for the opposition. Garbin has showcased her versatility throughout the season switching between goal attack and goal shooter seamlessly while Fraser provides plenty of energy, speed and excitement to the attack end.

2019 Suncorp Super Netball Team of the Year

THE 2019 Draft Central Suncorp Super Netball Team of the Year is here, featuring 10 key players from across seven of the eight SSN sides. Despite a mostly successful season, GIANTS Netball is the only club with out at least one representative, while the only sides with more than one player featured in the side are fittingly Grand Finalists, NSW Swifts and Sunshine Coast Lightning.

GK: Shamera Sterling (Adelaide Thunderbirds)

The Thunderbirds may not have won many games this season, but when they did often it was well and truly off the back of Shamera Sterling’s defensive pressure in the goal circle. The young defender may not have the experience to control games the way Geva Mentor can, but it’s her ability to impact the contest and provide a surprising element down back that forces teams to think about every single feed heading into the goal circle. While it can be argued Sterling got a large volume of turnover ball because the side was losing and their opposition occasionally got lazy with feeds, full credit still goes to Sterling for regularly being that star player the Thunderbirds needed to spark the side into action. Her hands over pressure, rebounding ability and deceptively quick footwork found her with the loose ball time and time again, finishing off the season leading the defensive rebounds tally (35), deflections (120) and second for intercepts (68).

GD: Karla Pretorius (Sunshine Coast Lightning)

While Sterling pipped Karla Pretorius to the post to a number of defensive stats this season, Pretorius proved to be a key player for the Sunshine Coast Lightning yet again, sitting in first for intercepts (69) and being the stalwart defender every side aspires to have. Pretorius’ ability to confuse the space and find the loose ball was second to none, consistent to a tee and conceding less penalties than many of her defensive counterparts – sitting in 12th overall for penalties (166), almost 100 less than fellow Lightning defender Phumza Maweni with 261. It’s Pretorius’ speed that catches her opponents off guard, with a quick takeoff and impressive aerial ability seeing her find plenty of turnover ball, often phasing her opponent out of the game altogether. While Pretorius’ impact inside the circle impressed, it was her ability to speed the ball back up the court that gave her the edge over the rest of the competition, providing a constant threat across the court.

WD: Ash Brazill (Collingwood Magpies)

Apart from a stellar few weeks in the centre bib, Ash Brazill was by and large the most impressive and consistent wing defence in the competition this season. Her versatility was key, finding the ball anywhere across the court and propelling it back down to provide a massive threat both through the defensive and middle thirds. It is Brazill’s athletic ability that finds her in the side, with dominant performances week in and week out and one of the most consistent players in the Magpies line-up. Brazill’s ability to provide hands over pressure as well as the excitement of circle edge intercepts found her one of the most watched players on court, ultimately finding enough turnover ball to push her side into a finals campaign. Brazill finished up the season with 18 intercepts and 68 deflections, getting hands to plenty of ball and putting doubt in attackers minds with her speed, anticipation and netball smarts.

C: Laura Langman (Sunshine Coast Lightning)

Laura Langman’s ability to play both the defensive and attacking game was second to none in 2019, providing the spark the Lightning needed to turn the tides and come from behind on a number of occasions. Langman’s speed, agility and strength moving down the court proves why she is one of the most effective midcourters in the world. The Lightning captain worked seamlessly with her side this season, not skipping a beat after missing the 2018 season and continuously putting on exceptional performances to lead her side to a minor premiership finish. Her consistency makes her a constant threat both on circle edge feeding into her attackers and deflecting through defence, with bullet passes and aerial ability to boot. Langman’s defensive and attacking prowess was clear during the season, racking up 246 goal assists from 512 feeds as well as 16 intercepts and 34 deflections.

WA: Liz Watson (Melbourne Vixens)

Similar to Pretorius, it was unquestionably Liz Watson who was the most dominant and consistent wing attack all season. Even after coming back from the Netball World Cup, Watson continued her exceptional form to be the number one for goal assists in 2019 with 430 from 627 feeds, proving an impressive ability to find circle edge and feed to the advantage of her goalers. Watson also collected a whopping 376 centre pass receives, sitting in second on the leaderboard, along with nine intercepts and 28 deflections across 16 games, proving that along with her attacking skill she has the ability to turn the ball over to advantage. While Watson’s speed and footwork is impressive, it’s her ability to spot her goalers at the post and shoot lightning-quick passes into the goal circle that make her key to both the Vixens and Australian Diamonds lineups.

GA: Gretel Tippett (Queensland Firebirds)

Unconventional goal attack Gretel Tippett had the season of her career in 2019, keeping the Firebirds in most games even when everything seemed to be thrown against them. Tippett’s accuracy and volume rocketed this season, shooting 394 goals from 411 attempts at 96 per cent accuract for the season, proving time and time again that she has the star power and excitement to change the game. Her daring style of play makes her a constant threat, using her height to find the ball with ease and challenge every defender she comes across. Tippett finished third in the competition for centre pass receives (325) credit to her speed off the mark while also showcasing her versatility, switching up her play style when required to make a seamless transition for every challenge the Firebirds faced, coming out the other side as one of the most consistent goalers in the competition.

GS: Sam Wallace (NSW Swifts)

Sam Wallace was one of the most consistent goal shooters in season 2019, flying under the radar but putting up solid performances every round to be the stalwart option at the post for the Swifts. She upped her game this season, finding more volume and accuracy than prior seasons, shooting 648 goals from 695 attempts at 93 per cent accuract – a whopping 233 goals more than her 2018 season. Wallace was also awarded the coveted Grand Final Player of the Match, dominating at the post against the defensive calibre of the Sunshine Coast Lightning and taking advantage of every ball fed her way. The goal shooter only picked up 18 penalties across 17 games proving her cleanliness with both ball in hand and with hands over pressure, while her aerial ability came to the forefront this season to ensure ball in hand at the post.

BENCH: Sarah Klau (NSW Swifts), Paige Hadley (NSW Swifts), Jhaniele Fowler (West Coast Fever)

While all three of these players had impressive seasons, they unfortunately fell short with their respective counterparts taking the top spot. Sarah Klau dominated in season 2019, finding enough ball to generate a much deserved Australian Diamonds selection and elevation, credit to her cleanliness with both ball in hand and on the body. Klau’s speed saw her find plenty of turnover ball, while her ability to find and mark her opposition created opportunities to generate some of the flair and excitement the Swifts have lacked over the past few seasons. Paige Hadley is another who came out of her shell in 2019, forging ahead early in the season to snap up a recall into the Diamonds. While Hadley started the season in wing attack, she well and truly made the centre bib her own after Maddy Proud went down to injury, finding plenty of the ball around the circle in attack and relishing the extra space when going down court to defence, putting on the accelerator to generate turnovers. Jhaniele Fowler may not have had the same impact as her 2018 campaign, however she well and truly carried the Fever through rocky patches despite at times carrying an injury of her own. Her height, accuracy and volume make her a formidable opponent in the ring, plucking the ball out of the air and rebounding with ease.

While these three players were selected for the Draft Central bench, a number of other players staked their claim during the season with the likes of Kate Moloney Cara Koenen, Renae Ingles and Geva Mentor also thrown in the mix.