WITH the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) season done and dusted Draft Central takes a look back at the year that was for each team, where they went wrong, improvements and hopes for the 2021 season. It has been an unconventional season to say the least with a condensed season, rolling subs, introduction of the super shot, extended benches and of course the Queensland hub making for an action packed year of netball. GIANTS Netball finished in sixth place in what was a disappointing season, producing some solid performances but unable to consolidate.
The GIANTS had a bit of an on and off season, firing in patches but overall unable to really take control of games consistently. The side faced its fair share of controversy during the season with Kristiana Manu’a sent off the court during Round 5 and Australian Diamonds captain Caitlin Bassett rarely getting court time, but the GIANTS showed some good signs regardless and continuously pushed sides to take risks given their penchant for the two-point super shot. Jamie-Lee Price was one of the standouts throughout the season with her hunt for the ball constantly on show, also providing a consistent and tough option on circle edge to thread the needle into the circle when required. She looked far more comfortable out in centre this season as Amy Parmenter was consistent as ever backing her up in the back-end of the court, while defensively Manu’a and Sam Poolman seemed back with a vengeance inside the goal circle.
Young guns in Kiera Austin and Tilly McDonell consistently stood up under pressure, with the former cementing her starting position by the end of the season, and the latter proving she is more than capable of having an impact during the big moments. Captain Jo Harten relished her regular position of goal shooter after spending more than a season out the front in goal attack, and while it seemed to take the side a bit of getting used to thee long bomb specialist was a constant threat with her ability to point and shoot and have an impact in a split second. Overall, while the lows of the 2020 season were disappointing, the GIANTS showcased some exciting talent and ultimately could have gotten a few more wins on the board if it was not for minor inconsistencies.
While the GIANTS did not have a heap of impressive games throughout the season, there is no doubt the continuous impact of Austin paid dividends in the goal circle with her clean and smooth movement and ability to create as much great play and ball movement as she benefited off. While it was not the most accurate season from the goal attack, shooting around the 70 per cent range, her silky footwork and ability to find the ball paid dividends. She was constantly a threat both inside and outside the circle with her defensive capabilities showcased by her 27 deflections and 12 intercepts, while her ability to point and shoot from just about anywhere inside the goal circle allowed her to be a threat on both the attempt and assist. Her partnership with Harten inside the circle and Maddie Hay outside saw the trio creatively and consistently press in attack, while Austin was also a huge battle on the transverse line finding the centre pass with ease.
Best off-season pickup:
GIANTS Netball was one of the only teams to not pick up any significant players, at least over the preseason with April Brandley a late pickup with the defender returning from pregnancy. But while Brandley was solid when she took the court, it was Hay who really stepped up this season after being elevated from being a training partner. While over the first few rounds she sat on the sidelines, Hay made the wing attack position her own once the pairing of Harten and Austin at the post was consolidated, finding circle edge with ease and injecting plenty of speed into attack. Hay’s ability to split the circle with her great vision into goal was showcased throughout the season, with her ability to zip into the pocket and deliver quickly and effectively. While not an off-season pickup, there is no doubt that Hay’s elevation played a handy role in allowing the goaler to consistently command ball.
The GIANTS have unfinished business after this season and will surely be raring to go in 2021. While it has already been announced that Bassett will not remain with the GIANTS and will instead ply her trade across the ditch in New Zealand, little has been confirmed from the GIANTS camp when it comes to her replacement. The side has a couple of impressive youngsters coming up through the pathway in Matisse Letherbarrow and Sophie Dwyer, so the real question will be whether they choose to elevate a young gun or look for some more established talent to join the fold.