Tag: Madi Browne

2020 SSN: Season preview – Collingwood Magpies

AFTER an extended break due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) season is set to commence on August 1. Draft Central takes a look at each team, with Collingwood Magpies up next on the list. 

Coach: Rob Wright
Captain: Geva Mentor and Madi Browne
2019 finish: 4th

The Magpies had a strange 2019 season, racking up seven wins and two draws. The side found plenty of purchase through the middle of the season and had a stellar patch to finish, making the finals thanks to a magnificent win against the Vixens in the last round, before then falling to the Vixens in the first round of finals. Overall, the Magpies were a force to be reckoned with thanks to their ability to pull out unsuspecting wins but also lost a couple of matches with a lack of consistency and connection down the court and a couple of major injuries putting their season in doubt. With Madi Browne ruled out prior to the season beginning and Kelsey Browne bookending with the same injury towards the end of the season, the side was interrupted but their good patches were better than most and proved that they could make just about any combination work if they were on. Shimona Nelson impressed upon her move to Melbourne, while Nat Medhurst was a crucial cog in attack, playing almost a dual role in and around the goal circle thanks to her wealth of experience to hold up the circle at times.

2020 predictions/expectations:

Collingwood have an entirely new-look team in 2020, with three crucial players in Medhurst, April Brandley and Kim Ravaillion ruled out with pregnancy and midcourt star Ash Brazill out with an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury acquired in February. But while the side has lost a wealth of experience, they have brought in some quality talent to replace them with Jamaican Jodi-Ann Ward joining the defensive fray to bolster ranks with Geva Mentor and Matilda Garrett, while Gabby Sinclair and Mel Bragg return to the team for a second season, with Bragg elevated to be a permanent player in 2020. Molly Jovic and Julia Woolley also join the fray for the first time, with the duo both snatched up to provide another option in attack and Woolley an interesting selection to join the goal circle given her lack of experience in the elite pathways. The team will need to ensure its connections are on point if they are to challenge some of the top teams in 2020, especially given the new two goal Super Shot with some inexperienced players in the midst.

Key player to watch:

Nelson had a breakout season last year, increasing her volume and accuracy across the season and will have to do the same in 2020 given the loss of Medhurst in attack. While Medhurst did a wealth of work to get the ball to Nelson in 2019, plying her trade and helping the young goaler develop her craft, Nelson will be the go-to girl this season  but could really lack that backup goaler stepping up that she relied on to generate ball, meaning the Magpies could be in a lot of trouble if she cannot get easy access to the ball under the post. With an impressive aerial ability and accuracy, plus her ability to put pressure on the scoreboard and she will be a real player to watch this season. Her development was second to none last season but will need to step up once again this year as the experienced player at the post, and will want to continue her development to ensure she brings her strong hands from the get-go to be a consistent threat at the post.

Team list:

Madi Browne
Kelsey Browne
Geva Mentor
Gabby Sinclair
Matilda Garrett
Mel Bragg
Jodi-Ann Ward
Shimona Nelson
Julia Woolley
Molly Jovic
Kelly Altmann

Who could lead SSN stats in 2020?

WITH the Suncorp Super Netball set to return in just over a month there is plenty of hype surrounding the season and which team will assert themselves on the competition. Last year the Lightning and Swifts seemed to dominate most areas when it came to statistics, but that did not stop Adelaide Thunderbirds recruit Shamera Sterling from leaving her mark claiming prime position in a couple of crucial stats while West Coast Fever goaler Jhaniele Fowler was also well represented in terms of statistical dominance. Draft Central poses some hypotheticals for the 2020 season, taking into account 2019 form, potential development over the off-season and enforced COVID-19 break.

Defensive rebounds:
Talented goal keeper, Sterling dominated rebounds last year notching up a whopping 35 for the season. Collingwood and England Roses goal keeper Geva Mentor was not far behind with 33, something she will be hoping to build on this season given the young and inexperienced defensive unit behind her heading into 2020. Premiership player Sarah Klau proved to be a force to be reckoned with under the post with her strong positioning and rebounding ability amassing the fourth most with 28 for the season. With Diamonds experience under her belt Klau could be an even bigger threat in the 2020 SSN season. While Emily Mannix did not feature within the top 10 for rebounds last year expect the Melbourne Vixens defender to be around the mark this season, with the defender showcasing a renewed hunger towards the end of last season. 

Goal assists:
It is no surprise that Melbourne Vixens and Australian Diamonds vice-captain Liz Watson took out the number one spot when it comes to goal assists with the wing attack simply unstoppable on circle edge with her pinpoint passes. Watson was quick, precise and accurate, feeding into the circle with a whopping 430 goal assists, 139 more than the next closest in teammate Kate Moloney. The Vixens centre was a key contributor throughout the season and will be around the mark once again in season 2020. The highly anticipated return of Madi Browne could see the speedy midcourter leap into the top five when it comes to goal assists as she will have to lead the attacking end for the Magpies given the wealth of personnel changes. Another possibility to join the top five is Swifts captain Maddy Proud who will hopefully make her return from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury in the early stages of the season. Renowned for her speed, dynamic movement and quick hands she could have a real impact in the Swifts attacking end. 

Centre pass receives:
Pocket rocket Laura Scherian took out the number one spot when it came to centre pass receives in season 2019, with the nippy wing attack able to burst out over the transverse line and get the ball moving. Her speed off the mark and fancy footwork was one of a couple reasons why the Lightning were so successful with Scherian amassing 428 passes while Watson was not far behind with 375. Often flying under the radar when it comes to her work at the transverse line Gretel Bueta was a prominent threat with 325 receives. Her load may lift even further in 2020 with the retirement of Caitlyn Nevins so expect her to enforce herself in the midcourt. Depending on what position Paige Hadley plays she could be another player that appears within the top 10 while Browne is another possibility.

Goals:
Jamaican powerhouse and West Coast Fever go-to girl Jhaniele Fowler was simply unstoppable under the ring last year and will be hoping to replicate that form again this season. Standing at 198cm the goal shooter is a commanding presence and wowed many with her ability to perform week in week out racking up 709 goals. Fresh off a premiership expect Sam Wallace to pick up where she left off last season with the Swifts goal shooter able to slot them from everywhere no matter the pressure. With a potential increased load in the 2020 season due to pregnancies in the Collingwood camp, Shimona Nelson will have to push herself even further. Slotting 637 goals for the season, Nelson’s numbers could rapidly rise as she becomes an even bigger target for the Pies given the inexperienced attack. While Romelda Aiken did not make it into the top five last year, likely due to missing games for injury, the Firebirds goaler is renowned for her ability to score quickly and at a high volume so expect big things from her this season, while increased court time from Cara Koenen could also see the Sunshine Coast product sneak into the top five. 

Deflections:
Sterling took out the top deflections position with an impressive 120 for the year, a clear testament to her read of the play and ability to impact the contest. She was involved in just about everything and with another pre-season under her belt and more accustomed to the high intensity pace of the game will be raring to go heading into the 2020 season. Klau was another one who impressed last year and will be eager to keep the good times rolling if they are any chance to win back-to-back premierships. Surprisingly, powerhouse defender Karla Pretorius did not feature within the top five when it comes to deflections so expect the tenacious South African to be in the mix while Thunderbirds returnee Layla Guscoth is also renowned for her ability to create tips and turnovers. The development of Tara Hinchliffe and Kim Jenner could see the duo feature within the top five this season while GIANTS wing defence Amy Parmenter is also a threat with her lightning quick pace and slickness on court.

Intercepts:
Although she did not feature in the deflections, Pretorius shone when it came to the intercept category with 69 for the season, one more than Sterling. Pretorius was a game changer for the Lightning, able to spring into action and take a huge intercept with her cleanliness and read of the play. After falling short in the grand final expect that fire in the belly to be evident and for Pretorius to once again be amongst the top echelon of players. Mannix was a prominent threat last year with her history breaking 10 intercepts in one game and ability to read the play. Collingwood newcomer Jodi-Ann Ward has proven on the international stage that she knows how to win ball back with her quick footwork and long reaching arms, while Magpies teammate, Mentor could also be in the top five once again given her strength in the air and skill to float into space and pick off passes. After a quieter 2019 season, West Coast Fever captain Courtney Bruce will be chomping at the bit, looking to assert herself and collect more deflections to rise up the leaderboard. 

International All-Stars players edition: Sigi Burger (London Pulse/South Africa)

CONTINUING our theme of All-Star teams, South Africa and London Pulse star goal shooter, Sigi Burger compiled her own dream team. Take a look at her selections and reasoning behind each player.

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My All-Star Team:

Sigi Burger (London Pulse/South Africa)

So when Draft Central asked me to do this, it literally took me a month to get the article to them because up until the morning that I’m writing this, I couldn’t decide who my dream team would be. The netball world is so rich in players with amazing skills, court craft, natural hunting instincts and flair, that I had to think hard and deep about certain positions on court.

However, this is the team I have decided upon.

Irene van Dyk. I decided on Irene as she has been my role model since I could remember. Growing up all I wanted to be was the next Irene. With incredible athleticism, accurate shooting, a body stronger than an ox and ripped like a piece of meat eaten by a hungry dog, Irene carved the shooting position as we know it today. Having played both for South Africa (I went to the same uni!) and New Zealand, to achieve such incredible things and to be a force to be reckoned with, and then to still stay so humble, it’s just incredible. Not to mention I TOTALLY fangirled when she followed me back on Instagram in 2017.

Gretel Bueta. Flair, skills, elevation and speed. Never has a netball player had such a dramatic impact on a game because they play so ‘differently’- from two-metre layups, jump shots, jump passes, athleticism that should NOT be normal! Gretel’s pace is incredible and her playing is un-markable. You simply do not know what she is going to do next and she is still so young, and does it all with a huge smile on her face. Also one of the sweetest people there is.

Madi Browne. with her quick feet, agility, ball handling skills and confidence to feed a shooter, it would definitely be Madi Browne, and for sure would she be able to feed the powerful duo of Gretel and Irene. Her never give up attitude is exactly what any team needs in the attacking side of court. Is there any ball that Madi cannot get into the circle? Her vision for her circle attackers is unrivalled. Her pace through court is so quick that not even being double marked makes a difference.

Laura Langman. Pace, accuracy, power and vision. Feisty, competitive, skills second to none and a complete powerhouse. With the amount of experience and confidence she boasts she would be the perfect person to keep everyone calm on court and with her strength in both attacking and defending I couldn’t think of a better centre to bring the ball through court. She is untouchable.

Ash Brazill. The MOST determined fighter of a player there is. Injuries, non-selection, height issues, etc. – Whatever has been thrown at Ash, she has just thrown it straight back. Her stamina on court is terrifying – SHE JUST DOES NOT STOP RUNNING. When she and Laura Langman play against each other, it’s a dream to watch. An incredible mentor and role model to so many. PLUS she’s always smiling.

Karla Pretorius. For some of you, you might not know how Karla has really blossomed into the exceptional player she is today. For starters, she wasn’t ever selected in any state/county/provincial teams during her school career. This all happened after school, really highlighting that there is no set time for anyone to have to achieve something by a specific time to be successful one day. She is the best goal defence of all time. Being smaller in stature, but that sixth sense and hunting instinct running strongly through her veins. She gets tips and intercepts that no one sees coming, is always just there to pick up a loose ball and has composure through it all. Very well deserved player of the tournament in 2019 Netball World Cup.

Laura Geitz. Simply the best and ruthless with her defending, incredible footwork, athleticism, rebounds that were terrifying in the aggression – you didn’t want to miss when Laura was under the post. She used to lead her players through her passion and love for her team and the game. Was relentless in her hunting for the ball. Every wing and goal attack knew if the ball was not on during the feed, it was game over. Just an exceptional player.

On the bench:

Ameliaranne Ekenasio. No team would be complete without Meels who plays an amazing goal shooter or goal attack and stays focused throughout, keeps calm under pressure and boasts an extremely successful shooting average. Her infectious smile and go-getter personality would also bring a great vibe to the team.

Liz Watson. Liz would make a great part of this team and she could confidently play any midcourt position and absolutely nail it with her aggression, composure in tight situations and incredible ball handling skills and accurate passing, as well as her tenacious go-getter attitude fighting until the final whistle has been blown.

Sharni Layton. No team is complete without a Sharni Layton. Sharni is one of those that you know you could put on court and she would give 120 per cent for her entire duration on court, bringing a presence both in her skills and defensive play but as well as her voice and personality. An immediate doom on any other team to face them. She would be the secret weapon and the intimidation factor. Her play was incredible and any goal shooter or goal attack would have their hands full with her playing against them. Plus an amazing personality and positive spirit.

This is my team, and I’d also just like to thank my mate Megan Pugh for helping me make the final decisions on this difficult task. I’m happy with the team I put forward and thank goodness they would never actually play against each other, because good luck to any team trying to face this strong 10.

SIGI BURGER’S ALL STARS

GS: Irene van Dyk
GA: Gretel Bueta (Nee Tippett)
WA: Madi Browne
C: Laura Langman
WD: Ash Brazill
GD: Karla Pretorius
GK: Laura Geitz

BENCH: Ameliaranne Ekenasio, Liz Watson, Sharni Layton

Top 20 players over 30: #13 Madi Browne

THERE are a host of international players across the world that, much like a fine wine, have simply gotten better with age. With netball on hold due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Draft Central takes a look at players that fall into the category of over 30 and still have plenty in the tank given their on-court prowess. Coming up next in at number 13 is injured midcourter, Madi Browne.

While ultimately a class above plenty of names in her hey-day, Browne has stepped down from Diamonds duty and given injury has kept her off the court since early 2019, has not really had an opportunity to prove her skill in recent months. But with the Super Netball hopefully returning soon and the delayed start doing plenty for Browne’s recovery, fans will hope the impressive attacker will start back out on the court this season. With plenty of speed, cleanliness and experience, the 168cm energiser bunny can be a real barometer for any side, namely the Magpies – who will hope she can return to the court this season.

With wicked pace, clean footwork and impressive vision, Browne is a livewire and at 32-years-old has shown no signs of stopping. With an innate ability to not only find the ball but also use her vision to feed ball into the circle with ease, Browne is a constant threat whether she has possession or is held down by her defender, able to wriggle out of tough spots to find better positioning in attack. Browne’s ability to find circle edge allows her to always have pride of place to her goalers’ advantage, proving the star midcourter is a commanding presence with a real affinity for knowing exactly where she needs to be at any given time.

While her attacking prowess is undoubtedly her forte, the wing attack can be a hot option in centre thanks to her ability to transition from attack to defence with ease and her agile two-way running which allows her to change directions with speed to adapt to the situation. A fan favourite across the world, Browne retired early from the international scene with plenty of young talent coming through the ranks, but Browne would still be a quality opponent and tough player to come up against if she were to return to the Diamonds, with her experience and knowledge of the game second to none. The speedster can still be a constant pressure and threat even into the later stages of her career, and has not lost any of that speed or excitement that made her such an impressive player to begin with.

TOP 20 PLAYERS OVER 30:

#20 Stacey Francis (West Coast Fever/England)
#19 Laura Scherian (Sunshine Coast Lightning/Australia)
#18 Ama Agbeze (Severn Stars/England)
#17 Phumza Maweni (Sunshine Coast Lightning/South Africa)
#16 Jade Clarke (Wasps Netball/England)
#15 Chelsea Pitman (Adelaide Thunderbirds/England)

#14 Romelda Aiken (Queensland Firebirds/Jamaica)
#13 Madi Browne (Collingwood Magpies/Australia)

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.

Netball fantasy teams: Melbourne Kestrels All-Stars v. Melbourne Phoenix All-Stars

THERE is no denying that Victoria has been home to some A-class talent throughout the years. Prior to the inception of both the ANZ Championship and Suncorp Super Netball, the Commonwealth Bank Trophy existed in which both the Melbourne Kestrels and Phoenix were a dominant force. But as netball developed the two Melbourne teams amalgamated to form the Vixens. We take a look back at the talent to grace each team and create an all-star team.

Melbourne Kestrels:

GK: Amy Steel
GD: Rebecca Bulley
WD: Julie Corletto
C: Shelley O’Donnell
WA: Madi Browne
GA: Ashlee Howard
GS: Caitlin Thwaites

BENCH: Cynna Kydd, Chelsey Tregear, Janine Ilitch

Starting in the goal circle it is hard to go past the likes of Australian Diamond and current Melbourne Vixens goaler, Caitlin Thwaites. The rangy goal shooter can score from just about anywhere in the goal circle and has accuracy to boot. Her strength on the take and positioning under the post makes her a challenging prospect for any defender. In at goal attack is Ashlee Howard with the goal attack acknowledged for her timing and accuracy to post.

There was no shortage of options through the midcourt given the amount of talent that worked its way through the Kestrels doors. Starting at wing attack is speedster Madi Browne. The talented midcourter is renowned for her pinpoint precision with ball in hand and attacking mentality, constantly looking to deliver the ball on a silver platter to her goalers. Centre, Shelley O’Donnell is another star to play for the Kestrels. She played a whopping 84 international caps for the Diamonds and was captain for the Kestrels while also making two comebacks her 10-year stint at the club. She was a key contributor with ball in hand able to drive the attacking plays and create defensive pressure. The wing defence bib goes to Julie Corletto with the versatile defender able to clog up space and cause turnovers with her timely tips and speed.

Down in the defensive circle, retired GIANTS star Rebecca Bulley takes out the goal defence slot. Bulley is a workhorse on the court, not often known for doing the flashy things but instead recognised for her dogged style of defence and tagging abilities. She wears players down with her constant nagging and physicality while her pressure over the shot caused plenty of headaches. In at goal keeper is the forgotten about Amy Steel. Although goal defence is her preferred position the highly skilled defender showed plenty of versatility and tenacity, willing to hunt the ball and cause a turnover.

Unlucky not to get a start was goaler, Cynna Kydd who was applauded for her efforts under the post and accuracy. Former captain Chelsey Tregear also earned herself a spot on the bench along with defender Janine Ilitch.

 

Melbourne Phoenix:

GK: Bianca Chatfield
GD: Fiona Themann
WD: Renae Ingles
C: Natasha Chokljat
WA: Wendy Jacobsen
GA: Sharelle McMahon
GS: Eloise Southby

BENCH: Abby Sargent, Sarah Wall, Jo Curran

The Melbourne Phoenix were littered with stars throughout their history and the attacking third is a testament to that. Australian Diamonds duo Eloise Southby and Sharelle McMahon take out the positions under the post. Across her 132 games for the Kestrels, Southby was cool, calm and collected under the post able to hit the scoreboard effortlessly. Her connection with McMahon was effortless with the two able to rotate through the circle with ease and cause all sorts of confusion for opposition defence units. Out in goal attack, McMahon was a real playmaker able to set plays up, deliver the ball into Southby and most importantly back herself from range in the circle.

Through the midcourt vice-captain Wendy Jacobsen takes out the wing attack position. Jacobsen was a key cog through the centre court with her quick footwork, ability to drive into the space and quick delivery into the circle. Teammate Natasha Chokljat pulls on the centre bib in the Phoenix all-star team thanks to her impressive contributions across the court. Her ability to run both ways and have an influence while also controlling the tempo of the game made her an easy selection.  It is no surprise that Renae Ingles takes out the wing defence position with the fancy footed centre court player making that position her own. Her strong hands over pressure, speed off the mark and ability to disrupt the attacking flow of the opposition made her a shoe in for the all-star team.

Moving down into the defensive unit in at goal defence is Fiona Themann. The highly skilled defender and Scottish Thistles representative took everything in her stride and used her lean over the shot to put doubt in the mind of the goalers. Her ability to swing around the body of her opponent and confuse the space allowed her to create turnovers and win ball back for her side. The final spot on the starting line-up goes to none other than Bianca Chatfield, with the defensive powerhouse and co-captain of the Phoenix a mastermind down back. Her skill to read the play and go out hunting for the intercept, intimidated plenty of shooters while her cleanliness also made her a daunting prospect.

On the bench is midcourter and slick ball user, Sarah Wall while versatile defender Jo Curran also earned herself a spot thanks to her defensive pressure and three-foot marking while Abby Sargent rounds out the all-star team.

Who would win?

While both teams boast some strong line-ups the Melbourne Phoenix seem to have the upper hand when it comes to the goal circle with both Southby and McMahon on their side. the shooting duo are arguably one of Australia’s most dominant combinations while they have a wealth of talent in the defence end. Although the Kestrels have some x-factor players across the court they lack that extra layer of class that the Phoenix squad seems to have given their international experience.

Who would reign supreme in Melbourne?
Kestrels All-Stars
Phoenix All-Stars
Created with QuizMaker

Top 15 SSN training partners: #8 Sharni Lambden

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

A talented defensive midcourter, 22-year-old Lambden has caught plenty of attention on the international stage from a young age, part of the Australian Diamonds Development Squad 2016 with plenty of drive to improve and consistency through the centre despite not yet having that big opportunity to line up in the Super Netball. Lambden is a valuable partner with the Magpies, able to apply pressure on both the ball and the player while also being able to be that impact player where required. While unlucky on the Magpies part with injuries aplenty over the court last season potentially impacting the side again this season, Lambden could have a real chance to break into the Collingwood side if she puts her best foot forward at training.

With an ability to switch between centre and wing defence, Lambden can be a crucial link-up through the midcourt with her drive down the court and ability to switch between offensive and defensive mindsets with relative ease. Already familiar with the training partner role after being on the list for the past two seasons with the Magpies, Lambden will look to continue her development alongside midcourt injury returnees Madi and Kelsey Browne while Ash Brazill is sure to be a solid mentor playing a similar role at the club despite being highly unlikely to make her return in 2020. A crucial link through an already star-studded midcourt at the Tasmanian Magpies in the Australian Netball League, Lambden has been touted as a massive threat for a while coming so will look to put that into practice this year.

TOP 15 SSN TRAINING PARTNERS SO FAR:

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

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 … Laura Langman did not return to SSN in 2019?

IN the inaugural season of Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) back in 2017, New Zealand Silver Ferns veteran and centre Laura Langman played a crucial role in her sides’ premiership. The Sunshine Coast Lightning were filled with a wealth of talent ranging from Australian Diamonds captain Caitlin Bassett, partner-in-crime Steph Wood and England Roses star Geva Mentor showcasing just how much talent was amongst the mix. At the end of 2017, Langman stepped away from SSN duties to comply with Silver Ferns regulations leaving the Lightning one star midcourter down. However, that did not faze them, going on to win their second premiership and make it back-to-back titles. But 2019 was slightly different. The Lightning had a major overhaul at the end of 2018 with fresh faces joining the 2019 roster and some of the more experienced ones departing for other clubs in the competition. Speedster and dynamic wing attack, Kelsey Browne made her way back home to Melbourne to be with sister Madi at Collingwood, while Mentor and Bassett both departed as well. With Browne gone there was a Langman-sized opening in the midcourt, one many netball fans were glad to see filled by the highly skilled centre.

But what if Langman did not return to SSN in season 2019? Would the Lightning have made it all the way to the grand final?

While we know that no team is better than any one player, the inclusion of Langman is like having an extra two players on court. The centre court player is in a league of her own, thanks to her unfathomable endurance, speed off the mark and defensive pressure. She can easily run a player into the ground while her netball knowledge is out of this world. Having played for upwards of 15 years at the highest level possible, Langman can quite easily change the course of a game single handily whether it be with a huge intercept or a well-timed feed into the circle Langman can do it all and she consistently proved that throughout the SSN season. But without her they may have struggled to generate the same winning formula. Her side had some teething problems early in the 2019 season, but the experience and of wisdom of Langman paid dividends thanks to her cool, calm head. With new shooter Peace Proscovia joining the Lightning and Cara Koenen taking the court more frequently the attack end had a very different look to it, while Laura Scherian had to find her feet in a new position back in wing attack. But it was Langman’s peace of mind, tactics and ball control that helped to steady the ship and provide options to either push forward or reset making her such an integral member.

Although their connections strengthened as time went on it was Langman’s ability to know where to place the ball, controlled speed and skill to stand up under pressure that got the Sunshine Coast over the line on a couple of close occasions. On the odd occasion when Langman was down on her usual output the Lightning suffered to generate that forward push or pressure through the midcourt indicating that if in fact she was not apart of the side in 2019 it may have been difficult for them to climb the ladder. It is not only her skill but so too leadership in trying situations that makes her that a-list player something that the Sunshine Coast well and truly cherished to get them over the line time and time again, having been the only team to not record a draw throughout last season.

While Langman is not the be all and end all of the Lightning she is a key cog in both the attack and defence end and given her side had gone through a major personnel change her presence on court played a huge role in making it to the grand final despite falling short on the day. Without Langman, the Sunshine Coast would have lacked that ace up their sleeve through the midcourt.

Would Sunshine Coast Lightning have made the 2019 SSN Grand Final without Laura Langman?
Yes
No
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What if… Kelsey and Madi Browne did not do their ACLs?

LAST season was shaping up to be the year of the Magpies in the Suncorp Super Netball after recruiting a wealth of A-list players. Fresh off back-to-back premierships, Lightning duo Geva Mentor and Kelsey Browne joined the black and white, while former Australian Diamond and West Coast Fever star Nat Medhurst was also among some of the key signings for the club. In the first pre-season tournament, Collingwood reigned supreme taking out the inaugural Team Girls Cup thanks to their slick ball movement, defensive strength and speed. But unfortunately, the tournament was marred by injury with co-captain Madi Browne succumbing to what was later revealed as a season ending anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. Often criticised for having too many highly talented midcourters with both Madi and Kelsey Browne, along with Kim Ravaillion and Ash Brazill the Magpies were at a crossroads. Although it was hard to replace the co-captain on court, they made do with the skilled list they had shuffling players around and later bringing in the likes of Silver Ferns dynamite Kimiora Poi. But the injuries did not stop there with Kelsey Browne also rupturing her ACL in August that season, all but putting a dampener on their 2019 grand final hopes.

So what if Kelsey and Madi Browne did not do their ACL in season 2019? Would Collingwood have progressed into the next stage of finals?

It is fair to say that both Kelsey and Madi Browne are the heart and soul of the club often providing that spark both on and off the court with their flashy style of play and excitement. With Madi going down before the season officially started it put a clear strain on the Collingwood line-up with the side struggling to find their rhythm in attack. The classy wing attack oozes experience and is strong around the circle edge, something that the Magpies lacked at times. Her ability to move into centre and have an influence also allowed Collingwood to shake-up their midcourt and keep opponents on their toes, something they would have been hoping to have up their sleeve throughout the season. With new connections in the goal circle thanks to recruits Medhurst and Shimona Nelson it took some time for the feeders to adjust to their varying styles meaning the experience and presence of Madi Browne was sorely missed in the early stages. Although they have similar styles the speed of Kelsey Browne is what made her such an integral player for the Magpies, able to dart around the court and exploit even the tiniest spaces. She delivered the ball with confidence and precision a skill that would have been highly valued heading into the finals.

Towards the backend of the season the Magpies seemed to find some strong form trouncing crosstown rivals Melbourne Vixens by 11 goals in the final game of the home and away season to walk into finals. But when it came to D-Day Collingwood was all out of options missing the depth on the bench and reliability of both Browne sisters. There were changeups across the court with wing defence come centre Brazill announcing herself as a real powerhouse with her athleticism and endurance and while she along with Poi and Ravaillion worked gallantly it was clear that there was a piece missing in the jigsaw puzzle. Gabby Sinclair often found herself out in wing attack to provide another option out the front while training partner Kelsie Rainbow was elevated to add to the midcourt stocks.

Given the fact that both Kelsey and Madi Browne offer such unique talent, speed and netball understanding an assumption could be made that Collingwood could have gone one further if not all the way had they not been affected by injury from the very beginning of the season.