Tag: Melbourne Vixens

Vixens flex their muscles against the Firebirds in Round 2 blitz

IN a game the Queensland Firebirds would probably rather forget, Melbourne Vixens showed their dominance across all areas of the court, and bench, coming away with a massive 78-50 win. Despite their fantastic opening quarter against the Lightning last weekend, the Firebirds were not able to string together a consistent performance against the classy Victorian side. The Vixens put on a clinic – and if they produce a game of this quality every match will be a premiership contender this season.

The first few minutes of the opening quarter were fairly even, as both teams sized up their opposition and started to find their way into the game. Jemma Mi Mi took the court for the first time in 2020 after missing last round with a calf complaint and was joined by debutant and goal keeper Rudi Ellis. The matchup between Firebirds captain Gabi Simpson and powerhouse wing attack Liz Watson provided plenty of excitement with the two engaging in a fantastic tussle from the outset. It felt like the Firebirds attack end were trying to find their feet, and the combination between youngster Tippah Dwan and Romelda Aiken is showing signs of promise. In the Vixens attack end, the combinations and experience made for a formidable front line who got into a rhythm as the quarter progressed and started to make their intentions known for the match. Caitlin Thwaites showcased her versatility playing out in goal attack and not skipping a beat with her clever feeds into the circle and drive to post. 

Vixens showed great patience in all areas of the court, and the experience of their Diamond-stacked side really came into play. Despite this, the Firebirds mounted defensive pressure through the midcourt, led by Simpson who, as always, was getting herself in everything. The inexperience of the Firebirds lineup became clear as a few silly errors through the midcourt crept into their game, and were punished by the bullet feeding and vision of Watson at the other end. Ellis was making her mark in her first SSN game, showing off her impressive leap and rangy limbs by picking up two rebounds on the trot. Vixens managed to take control towards the end of the first term as they cleared space easily and balanced the court, maintaining composure and staying in control on transition play, ending the quarter with 16 goals to the Firebirds’ 13. 

The Vixens gathered momentum after the break and as their confidence grew, so did the scoreline. Tegan Philip came on for Thwaites and was zipping around the goal circle leaving Kim Jenner for dust. It was clear that all seven Vixens on the court were doing their job, with Watson, in particular, putting on an outstanding show. Firebirds were letting the Vixens derail them slightly, and their passing accuracy was starting to falter under the defensive pressure of the Vixens. The youth and inexperience of the Firebirds was being exposed by the fluency and timing of Mwai Kumwenda and Phillip, and Firebirds were forced into taking a time out to try and stem the flow of the Melbourne side.

The defensive trio of Emily Mannix, Jo Weston and Kate Eddy starred, running rings around the Firebirds attack end as the Vixens extended their lead to 10 goals. Unfortunately, for the Firebirds, as the Vixens went from strength to strength, the Queensland team looked disordered and on top of each other. Their only saving grace was the tried and tested route over the top to Aiken, which allowed them some access to post through the wall of green dresses. In the final five minutes of the quarter, things got even worse for the Firebirds, who could not find their accuracy from the two-goal range. The Vixens shooters were slotting them from everywhere making the most of the super shot as the game really started to slip out of the Firebirds control. Even with Watson taking a rest on the bench, the Vixens were still way too good, winning the quarter by 21-8 and taking a huge 16-goal lead into the half-time break.

This really set the tone for the remainder of the match, as the Vixens really put the foot down. Mi Mi came into the centre position with Mahalia Cassidy out at wing attack, and the Firebirds shuffled the pack almost constantly in the third quarter to try and find the right combination. Their small errors were costing them, and in contrast, the Vixens were doing the little things well and enjoying the chance to play with freedom. They were both rapid and careful with possession, maintaining their structures in both attack and defence. In an unusual move, Simpson came into goal defence in hope to nullify the Philip with her tagging style and aerial presence. The change however left the Firebirds without their experienced leader in the midcourt with the youngsters unable to penetrate through the Vixens defensive pressure as the Melbourne based team pushed out to a 25-goal lead. 

With the score blown out to 57-32, the Vixens continued to utilise their bench players, including Jacqui Newton in at goal defence. The Vixens had only had nine turnovers in three quarters of netball, proving just how clinical and well-drilled they were throughout the game. Tayla Honey was particularly impressive, demonstrating smart footwork and accurate feeding ability. For the Firebirds, no third was really clicking for them in terms of connections, even with the typical combination of Kim Jenner and Tara Hinchliffe down back and Simpson back in wing defence. Both teams made good use of the rolling subs rule throughout the fourth quarter, testing out combinations and connections. Towards the end of the game, Ine-Mari Venter slotted an impressive three super shots in a row, which although too late for this game, gives her valuable experience for future rounds. Thwaites sunk a final devastating super shot after the buzzer, meaning the Vixens pushed the score out to 78-50. 

The Vixens will be glad their starting seven earned themselves a rest on the bench, especially when they come up against Lightning in a few days time. They proved their premiership potential and kept the Firebirds to their equal lowest score of all time. With shooters making 90 per cent in normal play, and slotting 13 from 19 super shots, the Vixens were unstoppable. They also managed to rack up seven intercepts to the Firebirds one. The Firebirds lacked experience compared to the Vixens but will be hoping to bounce back with a win against the Magpies in Round 3.

>>> FIREBIRDS TEAM PAGE

>>> VIXENS TEAM PAGE

>>> FULL MATCH STATS

Queensland Firebirds 13 | 8 | 11 | 18 (50)
Melbourne Vixens 16 | 22 | 19 | 21 (78)

STARTING SEVEN:

Queensland Firebirds:

GS: Romelda Aiken
GA: Tippah Dwan
WA: Jemma Mi Mi
C: Mahalia Cassidy
WD: Gabi Simpson
GD: Kim Jenner
GK: Rudi Ellis

Melbourne Vixens:

GS: Mwai Kumwenda
GA: Caitlin Thwaites
WA: Liz Watson
C: Kate Moloney
WD: Kate Eddy
GD: Jo Weston
GK: Emily Mannix

Draft Central’s free 2020 Suncorp Super Netball magazine

We are excited to announce our second Suncorp Super Netball magazine just in time for the season to begin. Faced with unprecedented times, Draft Central has worked hard to construct a magazine for netball lovers across the globe focusing on the 2020 SSN season and briefly recapping the 2019 action.

The magazine includes individual player profiles in each team as well as a list of training partners to ensure you can stay up to date with all the SSN news. You can find player features from Melbourne Vixens youngster Elle McDonald and Collingwood Magpies replacement player Molly Jovic inside, as well as the Draft Central team’s predictions for the season ahead.

If you are interested in being notified on further magazines please sign up below and don’t forget to join our Netball Draft Central group to join in the conversation.

If you are passionate about netball or multiple sports and wish to receive monthly EDMS of our most popular content, or even just when the next magazine drops, fill out the form below.

SSN 2020 update: Rule adjustments

WITH Round 1 of the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) season just around the corner, some last minute rule adjustments have been made to the season to ensure player safety and wellbeing due to the condensed season. Committed to a full 60 game season over a shorter time frame with midweek games in the mix, the SSN is taking a cautious approach to protect the players and ensure player management.

The introduction of extra time was supposed to come into play this season as a result of a number of draws last season. However that rule has been scrapped for the 2020 season to accommodate for the heavier workload players will be faced with in the upcoming season. While it might not seem like a huge difference having to play an extra couple of minutes on top of their already top heavy schedule could have a major influence on player recovery.

“I think the ones (rules) that came out today don’t affect us too much from an on court perspective and planning for those games you know, as athletes and competitors, you want to get a result but I think the league has put it in, and it is a sensible decision, because we are going to be backing it up and playing a couple of games a week,” Melbourne Vixens co-captain, Kate Moloney told media on Tuesday.

The bonus point, while controversial when it was first brought in, has become a key part of the SSN competition but will not take effect this season in order to focus on player management. In the past many teams have kept their starting seven players on the court in hope to secure that elusive bonus point and give them a boost on the ladder. With the incentive not in place for the 2020 season it will hopefully encourage teams to rotate players instead of pushing players to win a bonus point in the dying seconds of the quarter.

Another key change ahead of the season is the introduction of extended benches meaning clubs can bring a full 10 member squad plus two additional players whether they be training partners or players outside of that scope as long as they fulfil the appropriate requirements. This rule change will allow teams to have more flexibility with players on court and seamlessly rotate when they see fit to guarantee each player can receive a sufficient amount of rest time. Furthermore the extra players can alternate from game to game depending on team needs giving the teams more flexibility.

“I think that’s going to be huge,” fellow co-captain, Liz Watson said. “We’re playing two games most weeks. So I think it’s a smart decision by the league to do this, and actually, it’s very sensible. It actually is giving players the opportunity to run off if they are feeling niggles or whatever it may be, and not actually pushing just that seven or 10 each game.”

The inclusion of two extra bench players allows young up and coming players to ply their trade at the elite level and gain some valuable minutes on court. With the Australian Netball League (ANL) not taking place this season, the opportunity could give some of the domestic league players a chance to step out on court and mix it with the best in the business which could be a huge positive in the long run.

 

SSN 2020: First six rounds of fixture revealed

FRIDAY morning saw the long awaited release of the first six rounds of the 2020 Suncorp Super Netball fixture, with the season beginning in just over a week on August 1. Rather than one round per week, the addition of mid-week matches will see these first six rounds play out across just 23 days.

While an announcement during the week stated that the entire season is expected to be played in Queensland, the first phase of fixturing will see NSW Swifts and GIANTS Netball remain in Sydney for the first three rounds with both West Coast Fever and Adelaide Thunderbirds joining the two New South Wales-based sides there. 

This round robin-style of fixturing will see the Queensland hub look much the same, with the first couple of rounds featuring the Queensland-based sides – Queensland Firebirds, Sunshine Coast Lightning, Melbourne Vixens and Collingwood Magpies – competing against each other.

The season will open on Saturday, August 1 with a Queensland derby between Firebirds and Lightning, seeing the GIANTS and Fever go head-to-head next, followed by Swifts versus Thunderbirds and finishing with a Melbourne derby between Vixens and Magpies, with the two teams’ last clash a huge semi-final last season.

The fixture also sees a couple of major changes, with weekday scheduling in the mix for the first time, seeing a couple of rounds with Tuesday and Wednesday evening matches. Fans will not have to wait long, with the first Wednesday fixture taking place only three days after Round 1 finishes, with a Sydney derby between Swifts and GIANTS on August 5.

Also up there in terms of quality clashes, fans will look forward to a Round 4 grand final rematch between Lightning and Swifts, while as of yet a fixture for the highly contested Sargeant-McKinnis Trophy will have to wait, with the Swifts and Vixens not playing one another in the first six rounds.

The statement also suggests there is potential for matches to play out in Perth and Adelaide later in the season, pending border restrictions. 

The next phase of fixturing is expected to drop in mid-August.

>> CHECK OUT THE FIRST SIX ROUNDS HERE

 

Team previews:

Adelaide Thunderbirds

Collingwood Magpies

GIANTS Netball

Melbourne Vixens

NSW Swifts

Queensland Firebirds

Sunshine Coast Lightning

West Coast Fever

Netball Draft Central: Volunteer writing opportunities

WITH Suncorp Super Netball around the corner the team at Netball Draft Central are looking for fresh faces to join the team. Already covering the ANZ Premiership this season, we are hoping to find volunteer writers who are interested in both competitions and have a passion for all things netball. 

In the past we have covered other leagues such as the Vitality Netball Superleague along with a host of Australian competitions such as the Australian Netball League (ANL), Victorian Netball League (VNL) and M-League, but have not been able to do so this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This diverse coverage of netball allows Draft Central to have a point of difference from many other netball news outlets catering specifically to netball fans across the globe. 

We are looking for minimum second year media/journalism students that have an interest in sport, particularly netball and are wanting to gain valuable experience with a dedicated team of writers. 

Writing skills, dedication, flexibility, and effective communication are all crucial characteristics to be a part of the Draft Central team. While writing experience is preferable it is not a necessity for this role.

If you are interested, please email Sophie Taylor at sophie.t@rookieme.com

Where to next for Victorian Super Netball teams?

WITH Victoria sent back into lockdown for a minimum six week period due to the rapid rise of COVID-19 cases in the state it poses many questions for the upcoming Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) season. SSN is set to commence on August 1 but with Victorian borders shut there is no chance of teams flying in or out of the state on a weekly basis. The element of a required 14 day quarantine must also be taken into account when looking into the logistics of how the 2020 season will run and the implications this lockdown will have on the competition as a whole. Quarantine and a lack of facilities such as Melbourne Arena being unavailable as a result of the Victorian lockdown ultimately throw the competition into a spin when it comes to fixturing, since the league has agreed to hosting a complete 60 round season.

With both the Collingwood Magpies and Melbourne Vixens based in Melbourne, Super Netball have to make a decision on how to deal with the two clubs. As seen with the AFL, NRL and A-League, all of the Victorian teams have fled or are in the process of leaving the state to ensure the remainder of the season is viable, something SSN will have to consider in order for the season to actually go ahead. While it is an expensive prospect, weighing up the cost of accommodation, flights and facilities for both the Vixens and Magpies, it is one that must be done to ensure the longevity of the competition.

It is clear that for the season to go ahead the two Victorian teams must find a new home, despite already missing the cut off date to leave the state. But the big question is where do they go? As discussed on this week’s episode of the Centre Pass Podcast, the options of taking solace in New South Wales and Queensland are the glaringly obvious choices for the Victorian sides with both states playing host to two teams and also boasting recently refurbished stadiums. The Queensland Firebirds unveiled the Nissan Arena or Queensland State Netball centre last year fit with all the bells and whistles while the Sunshine Coast Lightning have already expressed their willingness for interstate teams to join them up in the Coast. The redevelopment of the Ken Rosewall Arena could also play a factor in getting the Victorian teams to set up shop in New South Wales. However, that is not to say that Western Australia and South Australia are not viable options given the quality of their facilities and are probably the cheaper option in terms of accommodation in comparison to the likes of Sydney and Queensland.

There is also a very limited chance of the SSN rescheduling or pushing the start back further as it runs into the international season with the Diamonds and Ferns confirming the annual Constellation Cup for late November. International netball is a huge drawcard for both countries and something Australia and New Zealand will be hoping to generate some money back into the netball sphere. Postponing the season could ultimately bring up issues surrounding venue fixturing as many sporting arenas are booked out years in advance given the high amounts of sport Australia plays host to.

While we all hope that it does not come to this stage, there is a small sliver of doubt that the season could not go ahead or that the Vixens and Magpies might not be able to compete given the recent developments in Victoria and the restrictions prohibiting them to travel. While the latter idea is unconventional and an extreme last resort, it could be the only way to salvage the season and ensure that some form of domestic netball is played in 2020.

Suncorp Super Netball introduces two-goal Super Shot

IN a surprising addition to an already compromised season, the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) has today announced it will go ahead with a two-goal Super Shot in the 2020 season. This is the third new rule confirmed for 2020, with rolling substitutions and extra time also implemented ahead of the season start.

According to a statement put out by the Suncorp Super Netball on Tuesday, the two-goal Super Shot will add a new element and remove predictability to the Super Netball competition, with Suncorp Super Netball CEO Chris Symington saying today that “90% of goals scored during Suncorp Super Netball matches were within three metres of the goal post”.

“With the ever-growing competition for the attention of fans, the time is right to introduce an innovation that will make the game even more dynamic and unpredictable.” 

Active in the final five minutes of each quarter, the Super Shot will see teams able to add an extra two goals to their tally from a designated zone within the goal circle. In the instance of tied scores at the end of a match, teams will play five minutes of extra time with the Super Shot active for the entirety of the extra time. Trialled in early March for the Diamonds versus SSN All Stars Bushfire Relief match, the switch-up saw plenty of goalers try their hand at the long shot.

There are plenty of pros and cons to rule changes, though this one seems to be a real contentious decision that much of the netball public does not agree with. In what has been a widely critiqued announcement, many are also wondering why the change has been made now, given the 2020 season has already had to reschedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But what does this mean for the competition as a whole?

Well on one hand, it will bring a new layer to the Super Netball competition which is arguably the greatest in the world. It could be an interesting growth point for netball in Australia given the nation’s current mainstay of tall timbers holding space in the goal circle. In the long term, this could be a great boost to the Australian pathways in providing more versatility inside the circle and growing players to adapt. It also adds another dimension and theatrics to the game, meaning teams can adapt to the match at hand and switch up their attacking style. 

However, what needs to be taken into consideration is the impact this could then have on Australia’s future in international competitions, with the domestic competition moving further and further away from the sport as seasons go on. To add another layer, this ruling will only come into fruition in the Super Netball competition and none of its feeders, though the Australian Netball League (ANL) will not go ahead in 2020.

It has also now been confirmed on social media that clubs and players were seemingly not alerted of the change, with Melbourne Vixens stating on Twitter that “Vixens coaches and players have been left shocked with only 6 weeks until R1.”

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Sharelle McMahon: Pushing the boundaries

IN the midst of COVID-19 confusion, umpire supervisors at Melbourne-based Parkville Netball Competitions have taken it upon themselves to continue as much umpire-based learning as possible while matches are postponed. The competition is one of two umpiring Centres of Excellence in the state, seeing its Tuesday Premier Open division umpire cohort come together weekly during the pandemic to further their skills. 

With a combination of theory-based learnings such as now-disused umpiring papers and examining footage of the Victorian Netball League (VNL), the group has been gathering online every week during the unprecedented break and enjoying the odd Q&A throughout thanks to connections its supervisors have forged over the years – namely former VNL coach, Leesa Maxfield, internationally accredited umpire, Kate Wright and most recently, Australian netballer, Sharelle McMahon.

A player who redefined the goal attack position, champion netballer McMahon has become a household name in Australia over the years, pulling on the green and gold 118 times over the course of an outstanding 13 years internationally as well as a number of years with both the Melbourne Phoenix and Melbourne Vixens. McMahon has racked up the accolades over the years, debuting for Australia in 1998 and making her mark on international netball with her match-winning goal at the 1999 World Netball Championships final

Growing up in Bamawm in country Victoria, McMahon grew up playing a combination of netball and athletics, playing in footy-netball and association competitions. McMahon was eventually picked up for the Victorian Institute of Sport (VIS) at age-16, with that aspect of her netball journey culminating in a move to Melbourne at a young age to pursue her netball.

“The legendary Marg Caldow rang me and asked me to move down to Melbourne and take up a scholarship at the VIS (Victorian Institute of Sport), so that meant going to school at Wesley College for year 11 and 12,” McMahon said. “That was really hard and initially I didn’t want to do that. Initially I thought ‘nah, I think I’ll stay, that sounds too hard!’” 

“With some encouragement and some really great support around me I took that jump at 16-years-old and moved down to Melbourne and, you know, it was a great experience, I’ve worked with some amazing people over the journey. And that started with Marg Caldow so I feel very lucky with the people that I’ve worked with.”

A big challenge at the time however was McMahon’s homesickness. While she had her support network in Melbourne, the young goaler still wanted some home comforts, one of which was getting to return to her hometown and close-knit family and friends to play in the footy-netball league where possible.

“One of the things we said to Marg Caldow when we were talking about whether I would come to Melbourne was as long as I can go home on the weekends and play! And so she allowed me to do that, but sometimes not as often as I would have liked.”

But heading home for the footy-netball league opened up a new can of worms for McMahon, who had progressed with Caldow from being a self-confessed ‘free spirit’ on the netball court, to having a bit more structure in her game play and having to adjust back to the country level.

“One of the things I do really clearly remember is working with my coach on my rebounding. I used to rebound from behind and kind of flick it over and take the ball, jump up and grab the ball, and I used to get called for contact a lot in the country doing that.”

“My coach got some umpires to have a look and was like, ‘she’s not touching them when she’s jumping up to get that ball!’” McMahon said. “I think my ability to be able to do that was surprising to some people and so I was getting called for contact when probably I wasn’t contacting, but you know there was that adjustment that I had to make when I was going back both with my play and what I was experiencing.”

Adjusting to the umpires continued throughout McMahon’s career, as McMahon brought up how there were times when, even at the top level, she sometimes had to adjust the way in which she played, not only for the players on court but the umpires who were officiating, whether it be at the domestic or international level.

“That happened right throughout my career. We spoke about this a lot in the Australian team … each country has a different style of play, each country has different strengths, so we would have to adjust what we did according to that. And we actually approached how we were being umpired in a very similar way.”

“Depending on which coach I had, Norma (Plummer) was very big on reading umpires and adjusting to that … we used to watch videos about what calls are being made and how we could adjust to that more quickly when we were in the game. So, you know, as you say at those different levels you have to adjust but that happens right through whatever level you’re at.”

With international umpires coming together from across the world to umpire world-class competitions such as the Netball World Cup (then-World Netball Championships) and Commonwealth Games, different interpretations between umpires and their respective experience can sometimes also factor into how matches play out and the quality of contests in those matches.

“They (some umpires) just interpreted things differently, they had a different style, just like us athletes, we had different styles when we were coming from different countries and I guess in those different levels that’s the same, everyone’s got a different style and different strengths and different ways of reading it, probably more so with the Australian level.”

McMahon says that where players and coaches have a massive influence over what happens on court, the umpires have just as big a role in how they officiate matches and to what extent they allow the contesting of play and testing of boundaries – with McMahon herself one who would time and time again try to push that boundary to the limits.

“One of the things I always liked about playing netball was not just the challenge against my opposition but the challenge against myself, looking at what moves I could make, how small was that gap that I could get through, really wanting to kind of challenge myself on that,” McMahon said. “And if I was allowed to get through that tiny gap, even though there was a bit of contact, well probably next time I’ll try and get through a smaller one!”

“If I was allowed to do that, probably next time I’ll do it a bit more until I find where that line is. And if the line is a little bit further than what you thought, well, that’s where the play will go. That’s kind of how I always approached it, rightly or wrongly, so I definitely think that the umpires can have a huge influence over the style of play and the contest, and how far that goes.”

While those were some of the on-court, boundary-pushing opportunities that McMahon took to gain the best positioning or access to the goals, she also spoke about some of the post-netball opportunities she has had in coaching and commentary roles after retiring from international duties in 2011 and netball overall in 2013.

“I think in many ways, when you’ve been around for as long as I had, you’re a coach even though you’re only a player anyway – you’re always working through tactics and helping your teammates out, figuring out what their strengths are and how to get the best out of them. So I’d always loved that part of it, and getting the best out of people is what drives me.”

“I went straight into broadcast, but I was given the opportunity to continue working with the group (Melbourne Vixens) and probably from a selfish standpoint, I was really keen to do that … I moved out of home when I was 16 and lived in an elite training environment where I had been around people like that, inspiring me I guess in many ways and supporting me for 20 years. So I think for me the thought of going cold turkey on that didn’t sit very well.”

“It’s always been about opportunity, you know, when I had the opportunity to move down to Melbourne I wasn’t sure but I took it and you know there’s been many moments like that in my life that I’ve kind of gone – ‘I don’t know if I should do that’. And it might be too hard or it might be outside my reach. But I’ve tried to always just say yes to those things, and give it a go.”

“People asked me how I chose netball over athletics. It was because the opportunity came up in netball first. And so that’s what I jumped at and went with,” McMahon said. “Those opportunities kept coming up in netball, and what I had to do was make a decision between coaching and commentary last year, which was really hard because I love commentary, I really enjoy that. But the opportunity to work with a group like this and Simone (McKinnis), and learn from her from that perspective was something I was really excited about.”

Tune in later this week for PART 2.

Thank you to Sharelle McMahon and the supervising team at Parkville – Joel Owen, Juleen Maxfield and Penny Carlson – for giving Draft Central access to this session.

Note – All questions throughout the meeting were contributed by the aforementioned umpiring cohort and supervisors, with just snippets of the hour-long meeting making the cut and much of the conversation revolving around umpiring.

Sharelle McMahon: Pathway to the 1999 World Netball Championship

IN the second instalment of our chat with Australian netball champion Sharelle McMahon, we take a look at her netball journey and that 1999 gold medal.

PART 1 – Sharelle McMahon: Pushing the boundaries.

McMahon’s pathway to the top level went a little differently to how it goes nowadays, with the talented goaler introduced to some familiar names along the way who propelled her into the world of elite sport. 

“When I talk about my development and how I came to be in Melbourne playing netball, I have to talk about my athletics part of my story as well,” McMahon said. “I actually was lucky enough to be coached by [Olympic gold medalist] Debbie Flintoff-King for a period of time, she ran some coaching clinics throughout Victoria … out of that group of people that she worked with right across Victoria she selected about 15 of us to go up to the AIS (Australian Institute of Sport) and train up there with her.”

“So I was 13-years-old at that stage, maybe 13 about to be 14,” she said. “I was really young and it was really the first time that I’d experienced anything like being at the AIS or seeing Debbie Flintoff-King and I took an enormous amount out of getting to know her and in many ways to me it kind of opened my eyes … she can do something amazing like that, why couldn’t I do something like that. “And so for me, that relationship with Debbie although it was only pretty short-lived was really significant for me.”

Fast-forward a couple of years and McMahon went on to debut for Australia in 1998, before sinking the winning goal at the 1999 World Netball Championships to catapult her into netball stardom. 

“Being able to take it (netball) further and I guess replicate what I saw Vicki Wilson do in some ways – I remember watching her in the 1991 World Cup and I’d never seen netball played at the elite level, never. I’d kind of never even realised there was an Australian team!” McMahon said. 

“I clearly remember thinking, I want to do that. “That looks so, so fantastic. “And so, to actually be named in the team alongside her for the first time, it was kind of surreal. “It was really like what am I doing here. But it was amazing.”

The 1999 World Netball Championships final against New Zealand was littered with contentious decisions by the umpires that are still brought up even 20 years later.

McMahon ‘controversially’ entered the court during the latter stages of the third quarter of the final amidst confusion from both teams and in a physical and close encounter against the Ferns, there is plenty that was questioned both at the time and still today.

Jill McIntosh, our coach, had come over to me, actually not long before I went on the court,” McMahon said. “So, I don’t even know how long I was on the court for that in the third quarter, a few minutes, I think. “But she had come over and said to me ‘you’re going on at three quarter time so that’s what I had expected.

“I had been told I was sitting on the bench and so I had put my mind into that and was fully into that, and possibly should have been a little bit more ready to go on court because when Jill did come over and tap on my leg it gave me a huge shock to think that I was actually going out on court so that was my kind of initial reaction, and then those couple of minutes in the third quarter were a bit of a blur.”

What was nerve-wracking for spectators was amplified on the court, and while Australia was down by a solid margin by the final change, the instructions on how to turn the match on its head were clear as the teams returned to the court.

“I will never forget the feeling in the three quarter time huddle when we were down by six goals, and I think then went down to seven early in the fourth quarter,” McMahon said. “But Jill was very methodical about what we had to do and it was only a couple of turnovers is the reality of that situation. “When I talk to the girls about that we clearly remember that message from her, don’t think about the bigger picture or trying to make up the – oh my god, six goals, how do you do that – let’s break it down. It’s only three turnovers, and that is easily doable and we actually did that really quickly.”

“We were all just single minded about being able to get this game back, so you know I just threw myself into the game, probably literally, really. “And I remember Jenny Borlase screaming at me that whole quarter, ‘drive! drive!’ and so that’s what I was doing. “Wherever I was going. I was going hard and I didn’t care who was in the way or what I was doing. That’s what I was doing.”

“It was goal-for-goal for quite some time because we got the margin back pretty quickly, and then Donna Loffhagen had the ball under the post of course with only 20 seconds to go – I know there was 20 seconds to go because we had a time clock on the bench and I looked over and I remember the scores were level and I knew that it was New Zealand’s centre pass next. “And so, I fully remember standing on the court looking down as she was taking that shot thinking, well that’s it we’ve lost the World Cup. “But she missed, and what an amazing rebound it was – when I see that footage of Liz Ellis jumping up and taking that rebound, that is not easy to do. Being able to get up and take that rebound.”

“Maybe we’ll talk about some of the calls that led up to that situation, I’m not sure but then the ball came down court; did Kath Harby-Williams step, possibly, I don’t know; did someone replay the ball, possibly; did I contact when I took the ball for that last time, I don’t know, possibly! AlI know is that when Liz got that rebound, I just switched back into playing. I wasn’t fully conscious about the dire situation we were in really, because I just went back to playing. So when I took that shot, the enormity of it really wasn’t on my shoulders because I was just turning and taking a shot. I didn’t have time to think about it, I put the shot up and that was that. And it was only when the umpire signalled full time that I realised that meant we had won the game.”

“I don’t know the right way to explain how I tackle that situation but the reality is for me is that I just put everything out there, I’m not going to think about the things that can go wrong, as much as I can I just I just wanted to get out there and do everything I possibly could, so that I knew that I’d left everything out on the court and not be able to walk off thinking ‘if only I’d done that’, that was my mindset and that’s how I kind of got to that stage, I guess.”

McMahon went on to play in three World Cups and four Commonwealth Games campaigns, collecting a combined four gold medals along the way. But an elusive fourth World Cup in 2011 evaded her as injury struck.

“I had watched Vicki Wilson play in four World Cups and there was part of me that thought I would love to do that… so that World Cup that we were preparing for, that I was going to captain the Diamonds, was only three months away,” she said. 

“You know, without probably making really firm decisions on it, it just felt like the right time to retire so I was ready for that … and then I snapped my Achilles – thought actually someone kicked me, I was very angry about that – and then I turned around and realised that no one was standing there, and that was bad news.

“I think kind of post that and when all the emotions settled down, I just didn’t feel right having my final moment on the netball court being carried off with a ruptured Achilles, it just didn’t feel right.”

While McMahon retired from the international scene with that injury, she made a triumphant return to the domestic competition with the Melbourne Vixens before retiring overall in 2013.

Thanks to Sharelle McMahon and the supervising team at Parkville Netball Competitions – Joel Owen, Juleen Maxfield and Penny Carlson – for giving Draft Central access to this session.

Note – All questions throughout the meeting were contributed by the aforementioned umpiring cohort and supervisors, with just snippets of the hour-long meeting making the cut and much of the conversation revolving around umpiring.

Suncorp Super Netball returns to court on August 1

AUSTRALIA’S top netball competition returns August 1.

In a massive announcement by the Suncorp Super Netball today, fans of the world’s top ranked league will have to wait just two months until they see their favourite stars out on court again. The other two major leagues in the world – the ANZ Premiership and Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) – had both made decisions on their returns in the past two weeks. While the VNSL opted to cancel the season citing concerns around the COVID-19 pandemic, the ANZ Premiership will return on Friday, June 19.

The 2020 Suncorp Super Netball season will be a full 60-game season – which means 14 rounds where teams face off against the other seven teams twice – as well as the four-game finals series for the top four sides. The fixture is yet to be announced, but the timing of the announcement today – May 31 – is for clubs to train together from tomorrow – June 1 – whilst sticking to social distancing guidelines.

Suncorp Super Netball CEO Chris Symington said in the release on the Suncorp Super Netball website that the season start represents a significant step forward on the road to getting back on court.

“We’re thrilled that a season start date has been locked away, now all our stakeholders have a date to work towards and fans can start to get excited for the start of the season,” he said. “We are planning to play out a full home and away season, and we are confident that our start date gives us the best opportunity to achieve that.

“Our guiding principles throughout this process have never changed, those being the health and wellbeing of the community alongside the financial viability of our sport. “There has been a collective commitment to those principles from the whole system including players, teams, partners and broadcasters and we will continue to take that approach as we look to get our season underway.

“I would like to thank our dedicated members and fans who have stuck by their teams and the sport through an incredibly challenging period. We look forward to showcasing our world class athletes once again from August 1.”

For full player profiles on each Suncorp Super Netball team, check out our team pages:

Adelaide Thunderbirds | Collingwood Magpies | GIANTS Netball | Melbourne Vixens | NSW Swifts | Queensland Firebirds | Sunshine Coast Lightning | West Coast Fever


Furthermore, the 2020 Constellation Cup between the Australian Diamonds and New Zealand Silver Ferns will take place later this year, whilst the 2020 Quad Series that was meant to take place between the world’s top two nations, as well as England and South Africa, has been cancelled due to the impact of COVID-19 on international travel.