Tag: player focus

Draft Central Courtside comments: Round 1 – Maisie Nankivell

EACH week the Draft Central team will focus on one Suncorp Super Netball player across the round and take a look at their individual highlights, key moments and improvements across their match. Our player focus for Round 1 is Adelaide Thunderbirds’ Maisie Nankivell, with the youngster developing impressively over the off-season and contributing well in the opening round. Each set of notes showcases the opinions of our writers individually.

A talented South Australian who has impressed through the pathways, dual-athlete Nankivell put on a show in Round 1 with her versatility and excellent work ethic. Offered a full contract for season 2020 after stepping up as a training partner with the Thunderbirds last season, the midcourter plied her trade well against the West Coast Fever on the weekend to finish with three gains (three pickups, two intercepts and one deflection to advantage) and led the Thunderbirds assist tally with 12 from 25 feeds, though racked up 14 penalties in the process, the highest midcourt tally for the round.

Here’s what we had to say.

By: Sophie Taylor, Draft Central Senior Editor 

Nankivell played a really consistent game to start the year, improving as the game went on and continuously fighting to chase down the loose ball. She was unafraid of her more experienced opposition, and while she was held accountable by Ingrid Colyer in the first quarter Nankivell exploded out of the blocks in centre in the second quarter, relishing the extra space and making her mark on the game. Her defensive approach to the position and relatively clean hands paid off, and she showcased her ability to work back into the game with her second and fourth quarter efforts impressive. As the match went on and the margin extended Nankivell’s cleanliness reduced in haste to get hands to ball, but overall she put out a quality all-round performance.

By: Taylah Melki, Draft Central Managing Editor

Nankivell was strong through the midcourt and on circle edge with her balance and core strength an obvious focus of her game. She generated plenty of opportunities for the Thunderbirds with her drive and physical presence on court to manhandle her opponents and win ball back. When in centre she was not afraid to thread the needle into the goalers, backing herself whether it was from circle edge or in the middle third such was her confidence on the delivery. Nankivell impressed with her smarts at the centre pass, shutting down the Fever and clogging up the middle third with her shadowing movements and intensity. Her effort did not waiver throughout the four quarters working tooth and nail to have an influence in both positions and using her clever footwork to dance around the body of her opponent to win ball back.

By: Lucy Pollock, Draft Central UK Writer

Dual code athlete Maisie Nankivell made her mark on the SSN competition following a confident performance in the opening game against the Fever on Saturday. She started the match with intensity, matching up well against Colyer from the outset with plenty of physicality. Her tracking ability is impressive, along with her rangy arms and strong three foot mark. She also provided fluency in attack and was a real workhorse on transition play, even winding up and delivering a long bomb feed from the transverse line. Her fantastic vision continued to be on display when she moved into centre near the end of the second quarter, sending co-captain Hannah Petty to the bench. Although the Thunderbirds didn’t manage the win, Nankivell put out a solid performance. Her athleticism and feeding ability make her a key midcourt threat for the Thunderbirds and after this strong start we can expect to see a lot more of Nankivell as the season progresses.

By: Jarrad Gardner, Centre Pass Podcast host

Surrounded by international talent in fellow midcourters Chelsea Pitman and Shadine Van der Merwe, Nankivell shone brightest in the Thunderbirds’ tough 12-goal loss to the Fever applying constant pressure to her opponent. She played the physical style of game we are used to seeing from her and reaped the rewards with multiple intercepts and deflections. Had a particularly impressive second quarter playing on Verity Charles, disrupting the play on multiple occasions whether it was through a deflection or intercept. Nankivell combined defence with offence as she showed her prowess at the attacking end which we did not see much of from her in 2019, impressing with her feeds into the goal circle and forming a great 1-2 punch with Pitman at the edge of the circle.

ANZ Premiership – Young gun focus: Round 8

WITH a host of young talent littered throughout the ANZ Premiership competition Draft Central takes a look at one key player each week. This week Southern Steel midcourter Kate Heffernan is in the spotlight, with the wing defence playing her role well over the past few weeks and upping her pressure.

Age: 20
Height: 181cm
Position: WD/C

A versatile midcourter, 20-year-old Heffernan has set herself up for a solid season with her improved speed and movement in her second year with the Steel. With a proven work ethic and plenty of drive to go better than her last effort, Heffernan has been a crucial link-up in wing defence this season, plying her trade for much of the season down back and using her attacking ability to drive the ball back up the court where required. Elite netball runs in the Heffernan family, with mother Annette Heffernan a Silver Fern of the 1980s, while twin sister Georgia also took the court for the Steel this season before a devastating anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury cut her season short.

On the taller side for a midcourter, Heffernan uses her long wingspan to reach for the loose ball and play a blocking defensive game, able to cut off her opposition with her unsuspectingly quick footwork as well as block vision down the court. Patient with ball in hand and able to ply her trade across any midcourt position after transitioning to wing defence from centre last season, Heffernan plays with plenty of intensity to create loose ball and provide defensive gets for her teammates down back.

While not always having a huge match on the stats sheet, Heffernan proves her necessity on the court with her ability to shut down attackers, once again using her height to limit vision. She is able to track her wing attack around the court regardless of their speed, with her long legs allowing her to stay a step ahead. This was evident in her Round 7 effort against Northern Mystics, with the young talent shutting down livewire Peta Toeava leading to the wing attack’s removal from the court, which was a crucial point for the Steel’s victory.

Heffernan’s ability to disrupt play is crucial while her ability to stay away from the whistle is just as impressive, averaging about seven penalties per game and with just eight turnovers to her name across her 10 matches, indicating her cleanliness with ball in hand. Pairing up well with Shannon Saunders in centre, Heffernan has developed her craft with Saunders’ help, becoming a more dogged and influential player every time she takes the court. Heffernan’s turn of speed has allowed her to rack up 23 deflections, 12 pickups and 10 intercepts for the season, consistently providing that extra defensive layer down back and limiting the work Te Huinga Selby-Rickit and Taneisha Fifita have to do outside the circle.

In Round 8, expect Heffernan to maintain that work rate against some quality opposition, first taking on Northern Stars’ Grace Kara on Saturday evening – with the Stars coming off a hefty loss – before facing Whitney Souness and a hungry Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic side on Monday night. Both players are high-impact players but their sides have been shut down fairly well this season when the wing attack has been limited at circle edge, meaning Heffernan’s job could be the game-changer on both occasions.