Tag: serena guthrie

2020 SSN: Season Preview – GIANTS Netball

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 the next in line GIANTS Netball. 

Coach: Julie Fitzgerald
Captain: Jo Harten
2019 finish: 5th

Falling just short of a finals berth the GIANTS will be disappointed with how 2019 ended and eager to make amends in 2020. Pipped at the post by Collingwood in terms of ladder positioning the GIANTS showed plenty of passion and determination throughout the season but simply did not do enough to warrant a spot in the top four and make a charge at a grand final opportunity. Without Serena Guthrie who returned home to England, the GIANTS at times seemed to lack that extra layer of grunt through the midcourt. However her absence allowed some young up and coming players to take the lead and hone their craft through the middle third. At the end of the season the GIANTS farewelled veteran and Diamonds sensation Kim Green with the talented midcourter hanging up the dress after an illustrious career. With some new faces in the mix and big shoes to fill expect the GIANTS to come out with a point to prove in 2020 and take advantage of the Super Shot. 

2020 predictions/expectations:

With Green retiring it leaves a chance for Kiera Austin to come in and really stamp her authority. Although more commonly known for her role as a goal attack, the talented youngster can double as a wing attack with her precision feeding the ball a key element of her game play. Throw in her vision and sheer netball smarts and Austin is an ideal candidate to replace Green. Although only 24-years-old, Jamie-Lee Price is the most experienced midcourter for the GIANTS and will have to lead the troops with the wing defence come centre responsible for the transition through court and tempo of the game. Despite boasting a young midcourt the GIANTS have a wealth of experience when it comes to the shooting circle headlined by two of netballs biggest names in Caitlin Bassett and Jo Harten. Bassett is deadly from under the post and while she had a shaky start to the 2019 season due to an injury will be hoping to impose herself in her second year with the club. On the other hand, Harten does some of her best work from around the perimeter of the circle with the goaler able to rock back on the shot and convert. The GIANTS captain can play both goal shooter and goal attack making her a highly versatile option for the GIANTS in the circle. Defensively the combination of Kristina Manu’a and Sam Poolman will have to kick it up another gear in season 2020 if they are to win more ball back and shut down opposition teams. There is plenty of excitement building around Matilda McDonell and Teigan O’Shannassy with the latter returning from injury and hoping to make an impact with her defensive prowess. 

Key player to watch:

There is no denying that Amy Parmenter took the competition by storm last year, bursting onto the scene and not looking back. Her explosiveness across the court and seamless transition between wing defence and centre makes her an integral member in the GIANTS outfit. Only entering her second year with the club the highly touted midcourter still has plenty to learn and a wealth of development left in but has already shown that she can change the course of a game in an instant. Her ability to read the play and spring into action while her speed off the mark also causes havoc for opposition attackers. She is not afraid to throw herself at the contest, using her tenacious mindset to hunt the ball. Parmenter is renowned for her hard work around the circle edge, applying strong hands over pressure and three-foot marking in the defensive third to block her opponents vision. With her defensive attributes quite profound her skill in attack is just as impressive, using her speed to create space and deliver into the goal circle when need be. Her vision is also highly impressive and will want to make sure she can continue to build on that throughout the 2020 season. 

Team list:

Kiera Austin
Caitlin Bassett
Jo Harten
Madeline Hay
Kristiana Manu’a
Matilda McDonnell
Teigan O’Shannassy
Amy Parmenter
Sam Poolman
Jamie-Lee Price

What if… the next England International window clashed with the VNSL?

WITH ongoing uncertainty around the timing of future international fixtures for the Roses, Draft Central considers what would happen if England matches overlapped with the upcoming 2021 Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) season. Which teams would find they had key players missing from their starting lineups, and which youngsters could take the opportunity to show what they are made of? The below is purely opinion-based, with a potential England squad based on recent selections. Unsurprisingly, the top five teams from last year would be the most heavily impacted if their Roses were called away on International duty.

Loughborough Lightning struggled when gutsy midcourter, captain and Vitality Rose Nat Panagarry was injured during the first game of the 2020 season. She provides a ton of experience to an otherwise fairly junior Lightning lineup. This lack of leadership on court, unfortunately, showed in their 14 goal loss to Team Bath at the season opener, and a narrow loss to Manchester Thunder two rounds later. The likes of Jess Shaw and Hannah Williams were required to step up to replace their captain and provide a link through court. Whilst they demonstrated plenty of zip and confidence in attack, Loughborough still missed the dogged defence of Panagarry during these games and would likely suffer as a result if she were to be absent again in the future.

Next, we take a look at reigning champions Manchester ThunderEllie Cardwell and Laura Malcolm both proved they deserve court time in the red dress during the 2020 Netball Nations Cup and would be high on the list for England selection. Luckily for Thunder, they have a fantastic goal shooter in Malawi international Joyce Mvula, who maintained 87 per cent accuracy in the opening rounds of the 2020 season. Thunder would certainly miss Cardwell’s clever footwork and ability to shoot from range, however Mvula provides a strong and reliable option. Manchester also has a tenacious midcourter in Amy Carter, who is capable of switching between centre and wing defence with ease. She provides a huge amount of energy and defensive pressure through court and could easily slide into the gap left by Malcolm. In the next few years, we will surely see this exciting youngster earn a starting spot in the Roses, and fingers crossed in Season 2021 she will benefit from further court time.

One team that would be heavily impacted by a scheduling clash is the talent stacked Saracens Mavericks. They are peppered with Roses talent across all three areas of the court, from George Fisher to Gabby Marshall, not to mention Jodie Gibson and Razia Quashie. Losing a holding shooter of the calibre of Fisher, even for one match, would heap pressure on someone like Kadeen Corbin to provide a clear option in the goal circle. In the midcourt, Marshall is an engine and provides support to Sasha Corbin and Georgia Lees, often coming on as an impact player. Although we haven’t seen Gibson on court for Mavericks yet due to injury, she will no doubt become a starting defender next season. Losing gold medal winner Gibson to England duties, combined with the absence of Quashie, would be a huge loss for Mavs. Quashie collected the highest tally of intercepts in the first three rounds and without her Jo Trip would have to bear a heavier defensive load than she is used to.

In contrast, Team Bath has a wealth of depth and experience across the squad. Despite starting the 2020 season without Serena Guthrie or Eboni Usuro-Brown the youngsters in this side have already proved they can step up when their big names are away. Co-captains Summer Artman and Kim Commane are rock solid, supported by versatile Fi Toner and exciting South African international Khanyisa Chawane. Not to mention Imogen Allison who really rose to the challenge in the first three games of 2020 and proved she has a bright future ahead. Artman and Allison have cemented themselves as future Roses, and after a fantastic start to 2020 they will be looking forward to plenty of court time next season.

Wasps Netball is another team that benefits from an experienced lineup. Although in this scenario they would most likely be without Fran Williams (who ranks in the top five for intercepts and deflections), the likes of Hannah Knights and Josie Huckle both have an excellent read of the game and the athleticism to back it up. The main issue would be if Wasps were without England veterans Jade Clarke and Rachel Dunn. Dunn has won more domestic titles than Geva Mentor and Clarke has over 170 caps for England. Wasps would struggle without these two game changers and whilst Katie Harris and Amy Flanagan have plenty of Superleague experience between them, it is likely the team would still miss the impact of the seasoned duo of Clarke and Dunn.

Celtic DragonsLondon PulseSevern StarsStrathclyde Sirens and Surrey Storm don’t currently have players in their squad who would be likely to be called up for England selection. However, the World Youth Cup is scheduled for June 2021. If all squads stay the same, Pulse would be missing several key bench players including Kira RothwellFunmi Fadoju and Olivia Tchine. This will certainly be something for Superleague coaches to consider when choosing how to balance their squads for next season.

Top 20 players over 30: #3 Serena Guthrie

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. In at number three is England Roses and Team Bath star, Serena Guthrie.

Arguably one of the most outstanding talents in the netball world, Serena Guthrie is a workhorse and stellar athlete with an ability to outrun almost anyone and look relaxed while she’s doing it. Guthrie chose the right time to take a break from international netball at the end of 2019 and leading into 2020 given the pandemic, but regardless of her pressing pause on her netball career for the time being, there is no doubt that the speedy midcourt-defender would be able to jump on the court and cause as much havoc as ever once she returns. 

With threatening speed, agility and endurance, Guthrie is one of those unpredictable players who can time and time again create something out of nothing, such is her athletic skill and ability to double and triple her effort and output under pressure. With long arms to snag the loose ball and create turnovers with ease, Guthrie is a constant impact-player, providing crucial links both up and down the court and plying her trade wherever she is required. Guthrie is unbelievable to watch, using her quick feet and read of the play to be a consistent threat through the centre for both the England Roses and Team Bath.

Typically playing out in centre, Guthrie uses her defensive nous to find prime position on the goal circle to turnover ball down back, while also able to have an impact feeding into the circle thanks to her ability to adapt her gamestyle to the situation at hand and two-way running to constantly be a backup option across the court. Along with her athletic ability comes her daring aerial skill, using her speed to propel herself off the court to create impossible intercepts, and leaping into the path of her opposition. It is Guthrie’s fearless approach to the game and willingness to throw her body on the line that sets her apart, unafraid of the contest and usually quick enough to evade the whistle.

Only just making the cut for this list having only turned 30 in January, it is a testament to Guthrie’s longevity that she has racked up the 98 caps for England already, consistently providing a threat on court with her ability to switch on the gears and just go, go, go. While not the cleanest player on the court thanks to her formidable approach to the contest, Guthrie typically is very good at picking her battles and forms a crucial part of the England Roses squad with her hands-over pressure and cherry-picking doing wonders to back up the likes of Geva Mentor and Layla Guscoth in defence.

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)
#12 Nat Medhurst (Collingwood Magpies/Australia)

#11 Mwai Kumwenda (Melbourne Vixens/Malawi)
#10 Caitlin Thwaites (Melbourne Vixens/Australia)
#9 Jo Harten (GIANTS Netball/England)

#8 Jane Watson (Mainland Tactix/New Zealand)
#7 Caitlin Bassett (GIANTS Netball/Australia)
#6 Jhaniele Fowler (West Coast Fever/Jamaica)
#5 Geva Mentor (Collingwood Magpies/England)
#4 Katrina Rore (Central Pulse/New Zealand)
#3 Serena Guthrie (Team Bath/England)

Fantasy Team: AUS/NZ v. Rest of the world

THERE is no shortage of talent across the netball world with stars hailing from a range of different countries. Draft Central has created two teams, one comprised of players from Australia and New Zealand the other made up of netballers from around the globe.

Australia/New Zealand:

GK: Jane Watson
GD: Katrina Rore
WD: Ash Brazill
C: Laura Langman
WA: Liz Watson
GA: Ameliaranne Ekenasio
GS: Caitlin Bassett

BENCH: Gretel Bueta, Gina Crampton, Jo Weston

Starting in the defensive third it is hard to go past the tried and tested duo of Jane Watson and Katrina Rore. Watson has come along in leaps and bounds with her pressure over the shot, speed off the mark and impressive leap causing all sorts of havoc down back. Throw in the experience and class of Rore and the defensive unit is one to be envious of. Rore is electric, nimble on her feet and has proven to be a real barometer for any team, able to create tips and deflections time and time again.

The midcourt is littered with highly athletic netballers able to run all day and constantly do the unthinkable. Starting in wing defence is Ash Brazill, with the Diamonds midcourter renowned for her aerial ability and flashy style of play. Brazill can create plenty of turnover ball and has a high endurance to run toe to toe with her opponent all game. It is no surprise that the centre bib goes to Silver Ferns and netball legend Laura Langman. With experience to boot, speed off the mark, explosiveness and undeniable netball smarts Langman is one of the most exciting midcourters to take the court. She can single handedly turn the game on its head with a perfectly timed intercept or a pin-point pass into the circle. Diamond, Liz Watson takes out the wing attack position with the speedy centre court player strong around circle edge. Her vision is second to none and is constantly two moves ahead of her opponent such is netball understanding. Watson oozes class, dynamism and precision able to deliver the ball into the goalers with great ease.

The goal circle is headlined by two impressive shooters with Ferns goal attack, Ameliaranne Ekenasio getting the nod. Ekenasio is a smooth mover that glides across the court and is a real playmaker in the attacking third. She backs herself from range, able to shoot from anywhere in the circle and uses her quick footwork to reposition in the goal circle. In at goal shooter is Diamonds captain Caitlin Bassett with the towering goaler renowned for her strong holds and high volume. Her positioning under the post is impressive able to ward off defenders with her angles and footwork, while also making the most of her long limbs to reel in passes going over the baseline.

The experience and class does not stop there with Gretel Bueta unlucky not to get the start but earning a spot on the bench, while versatile attacker Gina Crampton also earned herself a spot. The final place goes to Diamonds’ Jo Weston given her defensive pressure.

Rest of the world:

GK: Geva Mentor
GD: Karla Pretorius
WD: Vangelee Williams
C: Serena Guthrie
WA: Bongi Msomi
GA: Helen Housby
GS: Sam Wallace

BENCH:  Lenize Potgieter, Chelsea Pitman, Shamera Sterling,

Kicking things off down in goal keeper is England Roses and netball veteran, Geva Mentor. The highly talented defender is nothing but class with her silky footwork, lean over the shot and skill to pick off passes entering the defensive third. She is deceptively quick and applies a wealth of pressure. Pairing with Mentor is Spar Proteas goal defence Karla Pretorius. The South African defender is in a league of her own with her speed off the mark and uncanny ability to reel in intercepts. She is simply unstoppable when on song, causing all sorts of havoc down back with her menacing style of play, quick footwork and long arms to force turnovers and propel the ball back down the court.

Through the midcourt Jamaican defender Vangelee Williams gets the nod at wing defence. She is a highly versatile player that can drop back into circle defence when needed but has an impressive skillset around the circle edge credit to her balance and netball smarts. Meanwhile, t is hard to go past England Roses midcourter, Serena Guthrie in centre. Guthrie is a running machine that just keeps on going, throwing herself at everything that comes her way. She has speed to boot and while she is more defensively minded can apply plenty of attacking pressure with her well-weighted passes into the goal circle. The 30-year-old is a key cog for any side able to provide that steadying presence and spark up when needed. In at wing attack is South African speedster Bongi Msomi, with the nippy midcourter able to dart around the court and create space in the attacking third. Msomi has lightning quick hands, able to fire off passes into the circle and is strong around the circle edge despite her slight frame.

The goal attack position goes to the cool, calm and collected Helen Housby. The Roses shooter is hardly ever frazzled and can shoot from anywhere in the circle, given her impressive range and accuracy to post. She is quick on her feet and is not afraid to take the hard drive into the circle to receive the ball. Her pairing with Trinidad and Tobago goaler, Sam Wallace is highly impressive with the two able to seamlessly move in the circle and create plays. Wallace is arguably one of the most laidback and underrated shooters and uses that to her full advantage, getting up to the high balls with ease while also putting up a wealth of shots.

Rounding out the team is South African and unconventional shooter, Lenize Potgieter along with Roses midcourter Chelsea Pitman and Jamaican excitement machine Shamera Sterling.

Who would win?

Both teams are packed with plenty of x-factor, however given that Australia and New Zealand sit one and two on the rankings it is fair to assume they might have the upper hand. The experience of Langman, Rore and Bassett in each third will help give the Diamonds/Ferns team that competitive edge over the rest of the world while their strength through the midcourt is also another key indicator.

Memorable Matches: Roses make history with 2018 Commonwealth Games gold

WITH netball taking a back seat to the coronavirus in 2020, Draft Central is taking a look at memorable matches in world netball history. Next up is England’s inaugural Commonwealth Games gold, defeating Australia by one goal on home soil in 2018.

A memorable match for many Aussies – and not in a good way, the 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medal match was one for the ages as England quite literally pipped Australia at the post to reign supreme. While Australia led the competition in majority of the stats, this was England’s opportunity to topple to Diamonds for the first time and they were not about to let their greatest gold medal chance slip away. England may have been the underdogs, playing in their first ever Commonwealth Games gold medal match, but it was that goal which saw the Roses turn it out on Australian soil.

With ultimately one of the greatest lineups England has ever hand – perhaps only rivalled by their current list – they were just too strong for the overconfident Diamonds who faltered at the final hurdle and could not compete with the tenacious Roses when it came down to the nitty-gritty. For the Diamonds, the match came down to extensive rotations which the side had dealt with throughout the entire tournament. The Roses however came in with a different mindset, only rotating as they saw fit and able to form a consistent barrier against the formidable Aussies. 

It was an even start by both teams, with neither team really able to find much momentum such was the impact all 14 players were having on court. The two sides were evenly matched with both goal keepers in Laura Geitz and Geva Mentor forming tough barriers in their respective circles. Mentor racked up a whopping 12 gains throughout the match, putting on a clinic with her cleanliness and the ease with which she found the ball, using goal shooter Caitlin Bassett’s consistency against her. Geitz and April Brandley were solid as ever, fairly clean in their defence and finding plenty of loose ball. 

While Australia started out clean, not finding much whistle, the two sides evened up as the match went on, seeing the Roses clean up their act and forcing errors from the Diamonds who seemed out of sorts with the closeness of the game – which saw both teams even at 25 goals apiece at half-time. Liz Watson entered the game to take on the likes of Serena Guthrie, providing some real gut-running against the star centre. While it took some pressure off the attack with Watson’s quick hands doing wonders, Guthrie’s overall athleticism is tough to overcome while her immense endurance saw the midcourter continue to ply her trade and propel the ball back up the court.

The Diamonds got back into the groove in the third but while they had the goals on the board, the side seemed out of sorts thanks to the constant pressure applied down the court from the Roses. That being said, Australia’s full court defensive pressure impressed with just the four goalers not picking up gains – but it was the constant changing of goalers that seemed to work in England’s favour.

For the Roses, there were little changes throughout, with only some small impact options taking the court to ply their trade. Goalers, Jo Harten and Helen Housby were consistent from the start and had a couple of patches where their defenders were on top, namely the beginning of the first and third quarters thanks to Australia’s rotation for fresh feet in Courtney Bruce and Jo Weston, but ultimately continued to ply their trade and coming into the final quarter were well aware of what had to be done to win the game despite a slower third term.

Full credit has to be given to England’s final quarter effort, shooting 16 goals to overcome Australia’s three quarter time lead and forcing error upon error from the Diamonds. England was just much cleaner with ball in hand, treasuring possession where Australia seemed to throw away far more ball than their typical game. Australia all but fell apart in the final term, collecting a whopping 25 penalties – 22 contacts – compared to England’s 10 overall. When you compare that number to Australia’s seven penalties overall in the first quarter, it’s hard to not think of what could have been if the consistency had remained from the beginning to end.

It was a goal on the buzzer from Housby which cemented the win for England, making history as the Roses collected their first Commonwealth gold, well and truly earning the win against the reigning champions, 52-51. At the post, Harten topscored with 34 goals at 87 per cent accuracy, while Bassett was not quite as influential with 22 goals from 24 attempts – though she did miss out on the third quarter. Housby came in next with 18 goals while Steph Wood and Susan Pettitt shot 12 and 11 goals respectively to provide another option in the circle. 

The consistency of Gabi Simpson was impressive, with the athletic midcourt defender the only Aussie to play out the full 60 minutes. Simpson used every inch of her pressure to impact on the Roses’ ability to find the goal circle, impeding former Australian representative Chelsea Pitman from finding avenues to the ring and providing impressive speed and pressure up the court. Pitman racked up 18 goal assists from 28 feeds, while Watson was not far behind with 17 assists from 27, only having played the three quarters. Geitz racked up five gains in her half on court and was well and truly missed in the final quarter, while Simpson’s consistency and pressure saw her collect four gains and Guthrie three with her threatening speed.

AUSTRALIA 14 | 11 | 13 | 13 (51)
ENGLAND 13 | 12 | 11 | 16 (52)

Australia

GS: Caitlin Bassett
GA: Susan Pettitt
WA: Madi Robinson
C: Kim Ravaillion
WD: Gabi Simpson
GD: April Brandley
GK: Laura Geitz

BENCH: Caitlin Thwaites, Courtney Bruce, Liz Watson, Jo Weston, Steph Wood
COACH: Lisa Alexander

England

GS: Jo Harten
GA: Helen Housby
WA: Chelsea Pitman
C: Serena Guthrie
WD: Beth Cobden
GD: Eboni Usoro-Brown
GK: Geva Mentor

BENCH: Ama Agbeze, Nat Haythorthwaite, Jodie Gibson, Jade Clarke, Kadeen Corbin
COACH: Tracey Neville

SHOOTING STATS

Australia

Caitlin Bassett 22/24
Steph Wood 12/14
Susan Pettitt 11/12
Caitlin Thwaites 6/6

England

Jo Harten 34/39
Helen Housby 18/21

Fantasy teams: Australia/Jamaica v. New Zealand/England

WITH a wealth of netball talent across the world Draft Central has created two teams based on the current top four nations according to the International Netball Federation rankings. The first team comprises of first and fourth – Australia and Jamaica – while the second team is made up of players from New Zealand and England. The line-ups include injured players that have recently featured in their respective country’s team.

Australia & Jamaica (Diamond Girls)

GK: Shamera Sterling
GD: Jo Weston
WD: Ash Brazill
C: Liz Watson
WA: Kelsey Browne
GA: Gretel Bueta
GS: Jhaniele Fowler

BENCH: Caitlin Bassett, Adean Thomas, Courtney Bruce

The Diamond Girls are bookended by Jamaicans given their height and dominance in those respective positions. The defensive end is set to cause fireworks with the likes of Shamera Sterling taking out the goal keeper position. The exciting Jamaican goal keeper is renowned for her intercepting ability, impressive aerial skills and classy footwork to get up to the high balls and propel it back down the court. Australian Diamond, Jo Weston is set to pull on the goal defence position given her ability to shut down opposition goalers with her tagging style of defence and skill to block vision and space in the defensive third.

Through the midcourt it is Diamonds top heavy with dynamo Liz Watson taking out the centre position. Although she is more commonly seen in wing attack, Watson has proven that she has the endurance and skill to have an influence across all thirds and use her speed and precision passing to deliver into the goalers with ease. Speedster, Kelsey Browne takes out the wing attack position credit to her dynamic footwork to dance around the circle edge and exploit every inch of space. Her impressive vision and skill to vary her passes into the shooters makes her hard to stop when on song. Coming in at wing defence is Ash Brazill, with the Australian Diamond able to move into centre as well when needed. There is no denying that she is one of the most athletic midcourters in netball history with her aerial ability and speed off the mark.

In the shooting circle, it is a combination of twin towers with excitement machine, the unpredictable Gretel Bueta getting the nod at goal attack. She is simply unstoppable both in the air and at ground level able to gobble up everything that comes her way while her increased accuracy makes her even more of a threat. Bueta consistently uses her athleticism and strength to out-position defenders under the post and shoot truly. Jamaican shooting machine, Jhaniele Fowler takes out the goal shooter position thanks to her continued dominance, height, strong holds and high volume. Her ability to use her body and feet to ward off defenders is second to none.

Unlucky not to get the start is Australian captain, Caitlin Bassett who was just pipped at the post by Fowler while the likes of Adean Thomas through the midcourt and defender Courtney Bruce also just missed out.

New Zealand & England (Silver Roses)

GK: Geva Mentor
GD: Katrina Rore
WD: Karin Burger
C: Laura Langman
WA: Nat Haythornthwaite
GA: Ameliaranne Ekenasio
GS: Jo Harten

BENCH: Helen Housby, Serena Guthrie, Jane Watson

There is no shortage of star power across the court for the Silver Roses with key players across each third of the court. Each player oozes class, experience and an innate winning ability. Starting down back is arguably one of the most experienced defenders and goal keepers in the world, Geva Mentor. The England Roses defender is in a league of her own, able to read the play and swat the ball away with her well-timed leaps and pressure over the shot. Moving out into goal defence is versatile New Zealand defender Katrina Rore renowned for her aerial presence and intercepting ability. She is light on her feet able to spring into action at any time and also possesses that attacking element to transition the ball from one end of the court to the other.

The defensive minded Karin Burger is another sure start for the Silver Roses with her impressive wingspan and quick change of direction. Burger proved to be a key cog for New Zealand able to direct traffic down back and can seamlessly switch into circle defence when needed such is her netball IQ. Her balance around circle edge ensures she remains a constant threat to force turnovers while in centre it is hard to go past the services of Laura Langman. The veteran Silver Fern is simply unstoppable able to run all day and everyday using her ball movement to open up the attacking end and deliver pin-point passes. Although she is more defensively minded able to apply pressure on the ball carrier and pick off intercepts her ability to switch into attack makes a never-ending threat. In at wing attack is England Roses midcourter and part-time shooter Nat Haythornthwaite. Although more commonly seen delivering the ball to the goalers with her clever placement around circle edge, quick footwork and hard drive to circle edge Haythornthwaite can slide into goal attack when needed.

The goal circle oozes nothing but class, shooting prowess and versatility with both able to switch between positions. Ameliaranne Ekenasio takes out the goal attack position with her smooth movement constantly on display while her ability to slot them from anywhere makes her an ominous threat for opposition teams. She is cool, calm and collected under the post and is not afraid to re-position to get into a more commanding spot while her ball handling skills is second to none. Much like her fellow goaler, Jo Harten can stand up and deliver long bomb after long bomb. Her ability to shake up her game style from a holding to a moving shooter keeps defenders on their toes.

Rounding out the squad is England Roses goaler Helen Housby along with teammate and defensive midcourter Serena Guthrie while Silver Ferns defender Jane Watson is the final piece of the puzzle.

Who would win?

Given the versatility of the Silver Roses it is fair to say that they have the upper hand over the Diamond Girls with each of their players able to move into another position with ease. The Silver Roses ooze dominance from the defensive unit right through the midcourt to the goalers, able to exploit the Diamond Girls especially through the midcourt.

Top 20 players over 30: #15 Chelsea Pitman

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 at number 15 is Australian Diamond-turned-England Rose, Chelsea Pitman.

A leader at the Adelaide Thunderbirds and a quality midcourter for the Roses, Pitman is a crafty and creative offensive option for England. A clean and deadly wing attack when she is on song, Pitman forms a crucial cog in attack with an ability to jump into the circle if required, but has really honed her craft on circle edge. While the Roses typically have versatile players who can rotate through every position, Pitman is one of the few who plays wing attack and sticks to it, having the ability to adapt to her opposition and create a formidable attacker with her speed off the mark, game smarts and clean movement. While Pitman started her international journey with Australia, the New South Wales born wing attack has dual citizenship and by this point has played a significant part of her international career with the Roses, including the Commonwealth Games gold medal against her home nation.

With quick footwork and circle work to boot, Pitman has an innate ability to read the play and always be a few steps ahead, creating a tough option on circle edge thanks to her tenacity to find the ball and ability to all but serve it on a silver platter to her goalers. Pitman can have a major impact in a short time thanks to her precision and pin-point accuracy, able to manoeuvre around her defender with ease and use her quick hands to fire passes into the circle left, right and centre.

While Pitman is a predominantly offensive player, she can apply pressure with her excellent hands-over and three foot marking through the midcourt, shadowing her player to force them into crowded space and adapt well to the defensive mindset. Her ability to adapt does not only go for her transition to defence, but also her ability to work with her fellow attackers and defenders to form a crucial blockage through the centre third, filling in the holes that her more defensive-minded midcourters such as Serena Guthrie and Jade Clarke would not have so readily at their disposal.

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)

Top 20 players over 30: #16 Jade Clarke

THERE are a host of international players across the world who, 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 at number 16 is threatening England Roses midcourter, Jade Clarke.

A veteran of the game and the highest capped current England player, Clarke is still a force to be reckoned with and even at 36-years-old continues to one-up her form and craft constantly. Consistently driving down the midcourt and able to win the ball back with ease, Clarke uses her experience and netball smarts to be a formidable opponent with her ability to adapt to the situation. With a defensive approach to the centre position and the versatility to drop back to wing defence to form a blockade on the transverse line, Clarke is a real leader on the court.

Able to create a solid pairing through the midcourt with the likes of Serena Guthrie allows Clarke to continuously provide a threat regardless of her positioning, able to outsmart her opposition and use her gut-running and endurance to go, go, go. With 176 international caps to her name Clarke has showed no signs of stopping, building and adapting her game play to provide a thoroughly difficult barricade whether she takes the court in centre or wing defence. 

Able to provide pressure anywhere on the court is something that has allowed Clarke to continue at the top level for so long, with her pressing defensive ability and wing span creating a real workhorse option through the midcourt. Meanwhile, her shadowing and zoning style of play allows her to adapt depending on her opposition to apply pressure on both her player and the ball handler. On circle edge Clarke be a threatening option both in attack and defence, able to use her vision to propel ball into the circle or her long arms and three-foot marking to defend on circle edge and deflect passes out of the ring.

A crucial midcourter for Wasps Netball in the Vitality Netball Superleague, Clarke’s experience allows her be a consistent competitor against any opposition, able to form solid partnerships with a number of midcourters thanks to her adaptability and constant pressure.

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)

Who is the biggest threat to Thunder’s crown?

THE 2019 Vitality Netball Superleague Season saw a massive rise in competitiveness across the competition with a number of teams vying for a spot in the finals. While it was Manchester Thunder that got the chocolates last year, any number of teams could have beaten another high flyer on their day in a fairly even season. 

But while 2019 was an exciting year for netball in England, 2020 has already had a phenomenal start with a number of teams proving their off-season pick-ups and form could be a big threat to Thunder’s chances of repeating their 2019 season.

With plenty of teams in the running for the 2020 crown, which teams have the most chance of knocking Manchester off after the first few rounds?

Team Bath

The blue and gold came so close in season 2019, falling at the final hurdle but ultimately coming in third with a six-goal win against Loughborough Lightning in the third place playoff. Where Bath may have fallen last season, they have been nothing if not threateningly consistent this year with three convincing wins under their belt, all by 10-plus margins. Worth noting is that while Manchester currently sits ahead of Bath on the ladder, the Thunder played one more match than Bath prior to the COVID-19 restrictions, meaning Bath could well and truly have been ahead if not for the pandemic. 

Bath lost major names in Serena Guthrie and Eboni Usoro-Brown over the off-season but do not appear to have skipped a beat with the likes of Kim Commane and Imogen Allison stepping up. Commane has so far posted bigger volume and accuracy in the goal circle, while Allison continues to be a barometer for success with her energiser bunny speed and drive through the midcourt. If Bath can continue its early domination when and if matches resume as normal, it could be a real force to be reckoned with come finals.

London Pulse

Ultimately the biggest bolter from a frustrating inaugural season wooden spoon, Pulse have locked down a spot amongst the top of the ladder with three wins from three matches, only behind Bath in percentage. While only one of Pulse’s wins was by a comfortable margin, the side is arguably in a better position than last year where they only managed the two wins – albeit with a very different looking team. 

Key pick-up Sigi Burger has had an immediate impact on court for Pulse, with the South African a dominant fixture at the post with an innate ability to find the ball. Add in speedy Jamaican recruit Adean Thomas through the midcourt and young defensive talent Funmi Fadoju and the new-look side has plenty of excitement up its sleeve. That being said, what the Pulse have in talent they could lack in experience playing together with so many new names, especially when you factor in an unexpected break from all aspects of the team-oriented sport, meaning there is no guarantee that the side has the experience to take it to an inaugural premiership if they were to get there.

Saracens Mavericks

The Mavs certainly have the talent to get there in season 2020 so it will be more about consistency when it comes to the rest of the year, with a very similar side to their 2019 campaign which slipped out of finals contention towards the latter stages of the season. With young talent heading up either end of the court in England Roses members George Fisher and Razia Quashie alongside more experienced names in Sasha and Kadeen Corbin, the Mavericks have plenty of potential to go far if given the chance. Another side with only three matches played prior to restrictions, the Mavericks won their first and third games – interesting both against Severn Stars – and had a close shave against Wasps Netball in Round 2.

Who will be world number one by the end of 2021?

DESPITE not winning the past two major tournaments in the netball calendar Australia still sit pretty at number one in the world rankings. Last year, arch rivals New Zealand pipped Australia at the post with a thrilling one goal win at the Liverpool World Cup while England also reigned supreme in 2018, crushing Australian hearts in the gold medal match of the Commonwealth Games with a one goal victory. While international netball is uncertain at the moment given the COVID-19 outbreak, expect plenty of a-class clashes between the top nations when it returns. But with so much player development and new coaching techniques coming through, the top spot could change in the next twelve to eighteen months. Who will be number one netballing nation by the end of 2021?

Australia: 207 rating

With the number one spot sewn up, the Diamonds are primed to continue their reign at the top of the netball ladder. They are almost 30 points ahead of their next competitor showcasing their sheer ability to dominate opposition countries and win comfortably. The Diamonds are renowned for their clinical style of play and will be hoping to extend their lead over the other nations and hold onto top spot for years to come. The next layer of young up and coming players such as Jamie-Lee Price, Maddy Turner and Sarah Klau are already filtering through the camp giving the Diamonds plenty of hope for the future. The Diamonds have a couple of aces up their sleeve to remain at the top of the ladder with goaling sensation, Gretel Bueta one of them. Bueta has taken the world by storm with her explosiveness and unpredictability both under the post and across the court while the likes of Liz Watson and Courtney Bruce have become staples in the line-up.

New Zealand: 179 rating

Fresh off a World Cup win, the Ferns have well and truly re-established themselves as a netball powerhouse. After undergoing somewhat of a rebuild in 2018, the Ferns look bigger and better than previous years with stars across the court. According to the current international netball world rankings the Silver Ferns are just ahead of England but are still a distance away from the top of the table Diamonds, though that will not stop them from taking a swipe at the coveted position. Unfortunately, the Ferns have already said goodbye to some fan favourites in Maria Folau and Casey Kopua who have been key contributors for ten-plus years given their on court prowess and sheer dominance, while it could be argued that veteran Laura Langman is on her last legs, meaning the Ferns will have to strike soon if they are to take out that prime position. Under the guidance of Noeline Taurua the Ferns have developed into a formidable outfit renowned for their discipline and pin-point accuracy, something that will go a long way in helping their climb up the ladder, not to mention the wealth of depth they have coming up through the ranks in the ANZ Premiership.

England: 173 rating

With an ageing team, it is really now or never for the England Roses to reach the top and cement themselves an a-list team. They have well and truly found their form in the past couple of years taking out the 2018 Commonwealth Games and showcasing their impressive form throughout the Nations Cup. With a host of their stars and starting seven heading towards the twilight of their career such as Geva Mentor, Jo Harten and Serena Guthrie, the Roses will have to throw everything they have at New Zealand and Australia to make a serious assault on prime position in the world rankings. Only sitting two points behind the Ferns, England definitely have the firepower to overtake New Zealand and if they continue on their winning ways could take the crown from Australia.

Jamaica: 172 rating

The Sunshine Girls have come along in leaps and bounds thanks to a host of their players joining the likes of the Suncorp Super Netball, Vitality Netball Superleague and ANZ Premiership to help further develop their craft. It is almost unheard of to even consider Jamaica as a potential number one nation but it is not impossible given they are only one point behind England and have some key players that can single handedly change the course of a game. With towering and prolific shooters, Romelda Aiken and Jhaniele Fowler at their disposal, Jamaica could rise up the ranks or at least challenge those above them. Throw in highly touted and exciting young defender Shamera Sterling along with goaler Shimona Nelson and the Sunshine Girls have a very bright future which puts them in good stead to mix it with the best and take out the number one spot.

*Note: For a full breakdown of how rankings are established, check out the International Netball Federation rankings.