Tag: sharelle mcmahon

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.

Centre Pass Podcast: Netball to return and international competition updates

WITH Suncorp Super Netball set to return on August 1, Centre Pass Podcast host Jarrad Gardner and presenters Taylah Melki and Sophie Taylor discuss netball’s much anticipated return while also diving into the ramifications of having no Australian Netball League (ANL) in 2020.

In the second episode of the year, the team also chats about the imminent return of the ANZ Premiership and the cancelled Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) season.

Centre Pass is in its third year and is continuously growing having interviewed the likes of ex-Australian Diamonds, Sharelle McMahon and Bianca Chatfield, former Australian Diamonds coach, Lisa Alexander, much loved commentator, Sue Gaudion and two time Lightning premiership player, Jacqui Russell.

To listen to the podcast, click the player below, or head to any one of Anchor, Spotify, Google Podcasts and Apple Podcasts, as well as Breaker, Overcast, Pocket Casts, PodBean and RadioPublic.

Netball fantasy teams: 1999 World Cup All-Stars v. 2015 World Cup All-Stars

OVER the years there have been some a-class players grace the court with them all coming together at the most coveted event in the netball calendar. With so many influential players from varying countries Draft Central has made a team from the 1999 World Cup and 2015 World Cup compiled of star players from the respective tournament.

1999 World Cup team:

GK: Liz Ellis (AUS)
GD: Kathryn Harby-Williams (AUS)
WD: Carissa Tombs (AUS)
C: Julie Seymour (NZL)
WA: Tracey Neville (ENG)
GA: Vicki Wilson (AUS)
GS: Irene Van Dyk (RSA)
BENCH: Sharelle McMahon (AUS), Nadine Bryan (JAM), Sonia Mkoloma (ENG)

Five different nations feature in the 1999 World Cup team with Australia holding a few extra places in the squad after taking out the gold medal. It is no surprise that goal keeper Liz Ellis gets the nod with the Australian defender putting her best foot forward throughout the 1999 World Cup. Her court coverage is impressive with the 183cm defender able to swat away any balls that came her way and propel it back down the court. Joining partner in crime is Kathryn Harby-Williams with the goal defence impressing with her hands over pressure and ability to take a timely intercept thanks to her vision and anticipation.

In wing defence is Australian Diamonds representative Carissa Tombs. The centre court player knows how to block her opponent with her quick footwork and clever body positioning around the circle edge. Through the midcourt versatile Silver Fern, Julie Seymour takes out the centre position. Renowned for her defensive pressure and no-nonsense approach Seymour starred across the court and was more than capable to deliver perfectly weighted passes into the goalers. Tracey Neville could move between both wing attack and goal attack and given the star power throughout the 1999 World Cup found herself out in wing attack in this team. She is crafty with ball in hand and can find space with ease.

Moving into the circle it is headlined by none other than shooting sensation Irene Van Dyk. Although she is more renowned for her time with the Silver Ferns, Van Dyk took charge for the Spar Proteas in 1999 with the goaler able to slot them with ease. Her fancy footwork and accuracy to post is what makes her so hard to stop, able to command the ball and score truly. In at goal attack is Diamonds goaler Vicki Wilson who made her presence felt in the gold medal match with her attacking intent and desire to go to post.

On the bench is Sharelle McMahon who made her World Cup debut in 1999 and proved to be a key cog for the Diamonds attacking unit while Jamaican midcourter Nadine Bryan and England defender Sonia Mkoloma round out the team.

2015 World Cup team:

GK: Laura Geitz (AUS)
GD: Casey Kopua (NZL)
WD: Renae Ingles (AUS)
C: Laura Langman (NZL)
WA: Kim Green (AUS)
GA: Maria Folau (NZL)
GS: Mwai Kumwenda (MAL)
BENCH: Caitlin Bassett (AUS), Erin Burger (RSA), Geva Mentor (ENG)

The team is top heavy in Diamonds players, thanks to Australia taking out the gold medal at the World Cup and Silver Ferns notching up the runners-up trophy. Defensively the 2015 team is quite strong with former Australian Diamonds captain Laura Geitz taking out the goal keeper position given her dominance and impressive on-court leadership. Her ability to make something out of nothing and use her long limbs to get hands to ball made her simply unstoppable throughout the tournament. Joining her down back is Silver Ferns defender Casey Kopua with the goal defence well recognised for her intercepting skill and go-go gadget arms to pick off errant passes.

In the midcourt it is hard to go past the likes of Laura Langman with the talented centre able to run all day and all night. Her endurance base is second to none and is a real barometer for the Ferns with her gut running, impressive ball handling skills and sheer athleticism. The wing defence position goes to Renae Ingles with the quick footed defender able to cover the court with ease and use her speed off the mark to force turnovers. Moving into wing attack is Diamond Kim Green, the electric wing attack simply sliced through the defence with her pin point passes and impressive balance around the circle. Throw in her speed off the mark and dynamic change of direction and Green was an easy choice.

New Zealand specialty long bomb shooter Maria Folau impressed throughout the 2015 campaign with her cool, calm and collected mentality at the forefront of her game play. She is light on her feet and can sink them from anywhere in the circle such is her accuracy and range.  Malawian goal shooter, Mwai Kumwenda took the competition by storm with her accuracy to post and unconventional style of play. The flamboyant goaler showcased her aerial ability throughout the 2015 campaign starring time and time again with her strong hands and balance.

Rounding out the bench is current Diamonds captain Caitlin Bassett while South African midcourter Erin Burger is also amongst the mix. The final spot on the bench goes to England Roses star and talented defender Geva Mentor.

Who would win?

Both sides are littered with a host impressive players that are renowned for their game changing abilities and dynamic movement and while it is difficult to decide which team would have more of a competitive edge the 2015 side has that extra touch of class. With stars on the bench the 2015 squad oozes depth and star power with each player able to burst onto the court and have a profound impact.

Netball World Cups 16 years apart, who wins?
1999 NWC All-Stars
2015 NWC All-Stars
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Netball fantasy teams: Melbourne Kestrels All-Stars v. Melbourne Phoenix All-Stars

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

Melbourne Kestrels:

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

BENCH: Cynna Kydd, Chelsey Tregear, Janine Ilitch

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

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

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

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

 

Melbourne Phoenix:

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

BENCH: Abby Sargent, Sarah Wall, Jo Curran

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

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

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

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

Who would win?

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

Who would reign supreme in Melbourne?
Kestrels All-Stars
Phoenix All-Stars
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Memorable Matches: New Zealand break Diamonds’ 16 year World Championship run

WITH netball taking a back seat to coronavirus in 2020, Draft Central is taking a look at memorable matches in world netball history. Next up is the New Zealand Silver Ferns’ drought-breaking victory over the Australian Diamonds for the 2003 Netball World Cup gold in Kingston, Jamaica.

It was a match of pure physicality and supreme determination from both sides, with the Aussies insistent on continuing their winning streak but the Ferns with a fire in the belly, having not won a World Cup trophy in 16 years. Both teams had some stellar players, with plenty of recognisable names among them. While Australia won the second half, it was New Zealand’s threatening first half that put them in with the lead, able to hold on throughout despite the Aussies’ fight.

New Zealand took an early lead, winning the first quarter thanks to the dominant pairing of Irene van Dyk and Belinda Colling, seemingly one step ahead of the Australians. It was van Dyk’s first World Cup with New Zealand and the South African dual citizen quickly paid dividends for the side, with the accuracy and drive giving the Ferns something they had been missing in previous years. While the likes of Kathryn Harby-WIlliams and Liz Ellis picked up a wealth of loose ball, the Ferns duo were unstoppable at the post, combining well and applying constant scoreboard pressure to put the Aussies on the back foot. 

Up the Australian attacking end, Sharelle McMahon had a constant barricade in Sheryl Clarke blocking easy access into the circle, and while McMahon’s clean footwork and speed allowed her plenty of crucial ball, it was a physical encounter between the two. Clarke’s five intercepts and game changing deflection resulting in a gain in the dying minutes – were critical for the turn of the match, with the final quarter going back and forth as the Diamonds fought to come back. 

Teaming up with Clarke in defence was Vilimaina Davu, who delivered constantly applying pressure on Cynna Neale and McMahon at the post and forcing errors from the likes of Natasha Chokljat and Rebecca Sanders on circle edge, putting doubt in their minds. New Zealand’s typical zoning play was critical throughout, holding onto the ball with ease and denying the Aussie any clean motion or movement through the centre third. Cath Cox joined the fray in Neale’s replacement later in the match, able to apply some extra fancy footwork.

The physicality hit its peak in the final term, with a young Temepara Bailey being sent off – something ultimately unheard of in netball today, but a call which marked Bailey as the first ever player sent off in a World Cup final. It was her tenth contact that saw the call made, forcing Lesley Nicol into the centre bib and enabling two quick goals from the Aussies to draw even with the Ferns down a player on court, but the two minutes on the bench only put more fire in the belly of the New Zealand outfit, with a bigger drive and desire to get that elusive gold medal. 

The dying moments saw deflections aplenty, with neither side able to steal momentum long enough to score, but the Ferns’ early efforts were enough to get the win over a stellar Australian opposition, breaking the drought 49-47.

AUSTRALIA 10 | 12 | 12 | 13 (47)
NEW ZEALAND 14 | 13 | 10 | 12 (49)

STARTING SEVEN

Australia

GS: Cynna Neele
GA: Sharelle McMahon
WA: Natasha Chokljat
C: Rebecca Sanders
WD: Peta Scholtz
GD: Kathryn Harby-Williams
GK: Liz Ellis

BENCH: Alison Broadbent, Cath Cox, Janine Ilitch, Nicole Richardson, Eloise Southby
COACH: Jill McIntosh

New Zealand

GS: Irene Van Dyk
GA: Belinda Colling
WA: Anna Rowberry
C: Jodi Brown
WD: Lesley Nicol
GD: Sheryl Clarke
GK: Vilimaina Davu

BENCH: Tania Dalton, Leana de Bruin, Temepara Bailey, Anna Scarlett, Adine Wilson
COACH: Ruth Aitken

All-Time Dream Teams: Sophie Taylor vs. Taylah Melki

IN a battle of Draft Central writers and Centre Pass Podcast presenters, Sophie Taylor and Taylah Melki have compiled their respective “dream teams” consisting of players from across the globe both past and present. There are a few common players throughout but both have brought their own reasons to the table making for an interesting match-up.

SOPHIE’S STARS:

GK: Liz Ellis (AUS)
GD: Karla Pretorius (RSA)
WD: Renae Ingles (AUS)
C: Serena Guthrie (ENG)
WA: Kim Green (AUS)
GA: Sharelle McMahon (AUS)
GS: Caitlin Thwaites (AUS)

BENCH: Mwai Kumwenda (MAL), Liz Watson (AUS), Casey Kopua (NZL)

Anyone who knows me or has listened to the podcast will not be surprised by my goal circle selections for this head to head. In goal attack I have the one and only Sharelle McMahon. She is one of my netball icons and has been since a young age, and her resilience and leadership both on and off court is something that I have always looked up to. Her ability to impact the play off the ball and her approach to the goal circle were both things that I took away from her time on the domestic and international stages. In at goal shooter is Caitlin Thwaites, one of my all time favourite netballers with her cleanliness and ability to constantly one-up her game and create plays in the circle. Both players have certainly influenced me as a netballer and are such striking players with their poise and accuracy on court, able to form crucial pairings with their teammates for a cohesive circle combination – I have no doubt that they could get on court together now and form a threatening pair in the goal circle.

Through the midcourt I have chosen two ex-Diamonds and an England Rose, with the centre bib going to Serena Guthrie. She is one of those exciting players who can win a game off her own back, but what I like most about Guthrie’s game is her defensive approach to the centre position. Her speed and resilience to just keep going is impressive while no one can beat her in the athleticism department. For wing attack I had a harder time making a choice but ultimately went with Kim Green. Green is another of those players who can race around and have an impact wherever she goes, but her speed at the centre pass and feeds on circle edge are what drew me to her as a fan. She’s a real workhorse who gets the job done without all the flair and dramatics which is what really draws me to her on the court and she’s just a genius with how she puts the ball into the circle. Wing defence was another tough choice for me to make with a few names coming to mind, but ultimately I had to go with one of the most consistent wing defenders in the competition for a long time, Renae Ingles. What I love most of all watching her is her speed and ability to have an impact both on and off the ball, phasing out her opposition and doing the hard work to allow her circle defenders to maintain control and propel the ball back to attack.

I have the one and only Karla Pretorius out in goal defence for obvious reasons – she is the best defender in the world at the moment and is a constant threat both in and outside the circle. Her ability to spark fear in her attackers without the messy physicality is a critical part of her game and something that netballers of all ages can come away with after watching her. Back in goal keeper is Liz Ellis, predominantly because when she was at her best, she was near-on unstoppable in defence. Her confidence and ability to influence the play was second to none, constantly providing a force in the circle which was testament to her work rate and constant drive for possession. 

On the bench I have a few more internationals in Mwai Kumwenda and Casey Kopua heading up opposite ends of the court. Kumwenda’s constant drive to improve her game and ability to adapt is testament to her impressive work ethic, making her a big threat at the post with speed and accuracy alive. As for Kopua, there is no denying her skill, precision and tenacity to get that massive intercept and throw the whole game off kilter. There were a plethora of midcourters to choose from but I ultimately went with Liz Watson. Her constant drive and intensity in attack is impressive and she is a real pillar of strength for both the Melbourne Vixens and Diamonds. Watson’s ability to step up again and again is something I really admire, pushing herself to be the very best and providing a real threat in attack.

TAYLAH’S TROOPS:

GK: Liz Ellis (AUS)
GD: Laura Geitz (AUS)
WD: Serena Guthrie (ENG)
C: Laura Langman (NZL)
WA: Liz Watson (AUS)
GA: Sharelle McMahon (AUS)
GS: Irene Van Dyk (NZL)

BENCH: Gretel Bueta (AUS), Kelsey Browne (AUS), Karla Pretorius (RSA) 

It was not an easy decision trying to figure out my all-star team but I think I have finally settled on a squad that oozes plenty of class, excellence and netball royalty. Starting in the goal circle it is hard to go past the most capped international player in netball history Irene Van Dyk. The New Zealand goal shooter was unstoppable under the post with her accuracy, high volume of shots and strength to single handedly take apart opposition defenders. In at goal attack is none other than Sharelle McMahon. It is fair to say that McMahon was one of the classiest netballers to grace the court, with her slick movement, precision with ball in hand and agility, throw in her accuracy and netball smarts and she was an easy selection.

The midcourt is headlined by international stars with veteran Laura Langman taking the centre position. Her sheer dominance across the court, ability to run both ways effortlessly, deliver pin-point precision passes into the circle and create defensive turnovers has earned her the position just nudging out Serena Guthrie. However, given Guthrie’s versatility to move into wing defence from centre, I pushed the defensive minded midcourter into wing. Her athleticism, tenacity and high level of endurance are just a couple of key attributes in her game play. While in at wing attack is Australian Diamond, Liz Watson. She boasts an impressive bag of tricks ranging from balance around the circle edge, quick footwork, good vision and silky hands to consistently deliver well-executed and perfectly weighted passes to her teammates.

This was arguably the hardest decision I had to make given there are so many highly talented defenders. Australian netball hero Liz Ellis gets the nod in goal keeper for my side thanks to her continued dominance. She was a key contributor to the Diamonds guiding them to countless victories with her intercepting abilities, read of the play, long arms and ability to shut down easy entrance into the goal circle. Although she is not in her usual position of goal keeper Laura Geitz is simply too good to sit on the bench hence the goal defence position. Over the past 10 years Geitz has been one of the most influential defenders with her attacking intent, nous to force turnovers with her continued pressure and skill to make something out of nothing.

Rounding out the final spots and unlucky not to get the start is South African defender Karla Pretorius. The exciting goal defence is a real livewire across the court with her dynamic movement, quick feet and long reaching arms to disrupt the attacking flow. Kelsey Browne has been chosen to fulfil the other midcourt position to help provide another attacking option given her speed off the mark and quick release into the circle. The final spot goes to the unpredictable and athletic Gretel Bueta. She is not the most conventional shooter and that is exactly why I chose her. Bueta is explosive on the court, creating plays out of nothing and more importantly has become incredibly reliable under the post to put up shots at a high accuracy.

Which team do you think would win this clash?
Sophie's Stars
Taylah's Troops
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Memorable matches: Silver Ferns defeat Diamonds in double extra-time – 2010 Commonwealth Games

WITH netball taking a back seat to coronavirus in 2020, Draft Central is taking a look back at memorable matches. Next up is the 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medal match in Delhi, India, which saw the 100th test match between the Australian Diamonds and New Zealand Silver Ferns finish in magnificent fashion. For many Australian netball fans, this week’s memorable match is one that would be better left forgotten, with a devastating result for the Diamonds but the ultimate victory for the Ferns.

The two sides were unable to be split from the early stages and though Australia seemed to have the momentum, New Zealand never let up in their tough approach and whittled down the margin bit by bit to keep the Diamonds on their toes. With scores locked at 47 apiece at the end of regular time and the Diamonds fighting from seven goals down in the final term, the match would go on to be one of the longest ever official matches coming to 84 minutes in double extra-time.

Defensively the Aussies were on fire early, with Mo’onia Gerrard leading from the front, collecting loose ball left, right and centre, while Susan Fuhrmann stayed back in the goal circle keeping a crucial eye on Irene van Dyk. But while van Dyk was kept quiet, only shooting the 25 goals, Maria Folau had something to prove, providing that crucial long-range shot to shoot up a storm from anywhere in the circle. Folau finished the match with a whopping 41 goals from 50 attempts, well and truly dominating at the post with her silky movement and ability to not just finish plays, but also create them.

For the Diamonds, captain Sharelle McMahon had a stellar start credit to her cleanliness with ball in hand and quick footwork, aided by Lauren Nourse and Nat Medhurst out in goal attack, with the goaling duo influential against the Ferns’ defensive unit which had a slow start. But as it goes with the likes of Casey Kopua and Katrina Rore, they can never be discredited with the work they do off the ball, working their way into the game and proving to be a massive defensive threat to the Diamonds at the post on every opportunity later in the game to close the margin.

Through the midcourt, Renae Ingles was on fire in the first half blocking Temepara Bailey at every turn and using her hands over pressure and bodywork to force errors which the Diamonds took advantage of, seeing a combined eight crucial deflections from Gerrard and Fuhrmann. New Zealand centre Laura Langman was her usual workhorse self, constantly there to apply pressure on Natalie Bode in centre and create that run down the middle of the court.  The change through the midcourt in the second half had an immediate impact, with Anna Scarlett and Liana Leota replacing Joline Henry and Bailey respectively.

While Australia was ahead for majority of the early stages of the match, New Zealand flipped the switch in the third to lead at three quarter time, leading 35-33 after the major switch up to the midcourt unit saw the Diamonds fade away as tiredness began to set in. Cath Cox and Kim Green entered the court in the final term to have an immediate impact, pairing well with McMahon who topscored for the Diamonds with 30 goals at 88 per cent accuracy. The trio’s ability to move through the space was second to none, while Cox and McMahon’s experience together and respective ability to split and evade their opposition saw the unit play out the rest of the match – almost 25 more minutes than a regular game. 

Painful to watch for so many as the clock wound down in the second half of overtime, Australia had its chances to collect the win but the Ferns were just relentless in their pursuit for their second Commonwealth gold, denying Cox a goal to win the match and daring to go into double extra time, with the clock essentially stopped until one team was two goals ahead.

With the overall game time edging over 80 minutes and the two sides still going goal for goal, a final shot from Folau saw the Ferns take out the game with a crucial -and her specialty – long-range shot that rang true to finish in the most dramatic of fashions, ending with the ultimate celebration for the Ferns and devastation for the Aussies, 66-64. The gold medal match came to a head to be one of the greatest matches in recent history between the Trans-Tasman rivals.

AUSTRALIA 10 | 13 | 10 | 14 (47)
Extra time: 6 | 5 (58) | 6 (64)

NEW ZEALAND 9 | 11 | 15 | 12 (47)
Extra time: 5 | 6 (58) | 8 (66)

STARTING SEVEN

Australia
GS: Sharelle McMahon
GA: Nat Medhurst
WA: Lauren Nourse
C: Natalie Bode
WD: Renae Ingles
GD: Mo’onia Gerrard
GK: Susan Fuhrmann

BENCH: Cath Cox, Kim Green, Bec Bulley, Laura Geitz, Susan Pettitt
COACH: Norma Plummer

New Zealand
GS: Irene van Dyk
GA: Maria Folau
WA: Temepara Bailey
C: Laura Langman
WD: Joline Henry
GD: Casey Kopua
GK: Katrina Rore

BENCH: Anna Scarlett, Liana Leota (Nee Barrett-Chase), Leana de Bruin, Grace Rasmussen
COACH: Ruth Aitken

SHOOTING STATS

Australia:
Cath Cox 20/26
Sharelle McMahon 30/34
Nat Medhurst 14/18

New Zealand:
Maria Folau 41/50
Irene van Dyk 25/29

Netball fantasy teams: Commentators v. Coaches

WHILE now renowned for their presence off court whether it be behind a microphone or boundary side these commentators and coaches were once known for their on-court prowess. Both sides consist of former players from across the globe now turned media personalities or coaches whether it be assistant or head.  To be eligible to make either team they must have held a position in either role in the past two years.

Commentators:

GK: Liz Ellis
GD: Laura Geitz
WD: Bianca Chatfield
C: Anna Stanley
WA: Tamsin Greenway
GA: Sharelle McMahon
GS: Cath Cox

BENCH: Anne Sargeant, Adine Wilson, Ama Agbeze

There is no shortage of talent behind the mic with each and every player in the squad showcasing their class and talent at both an international and domestic level. Starting in goal keeper is none other than fan favourite and Australian Diamonds royalty Liz Ellis. The talented defender was an easy pick given her influence on court, long arms, ability to clog up space and come out for a screaming intercept when needed. Much like her defensive counterpart, Laura Geitz was another sure starter even though she was pushed out to goal defence to accommodate for Ellis. The former Diamonds goal keeper turned commentator was an excitement machine down back, generating plenty of turnover ball and using her impressive timing to perfection. Moving out to wing defence is Melbourne Vixens great and fellow Diamond defender Bianca Chatfield. Although typically known for her presence in circle defence, Chatfield is no stranger to the wing position with her height and long arm span doing a wealth of damage to block her opponents vision into the circle. New Zealand commentator and former Silver Ferns representative Anna Stanley takes out the centre position with the highly skilled midcourter possessing class and speed to boot. Her experience and nous on the court was unquestionable able to thread the needle with her passes and good vision while wing attack and former England Roses star Tamsin Greenway oozes plenty of game changing attributes. Arguably one of the headline duos in the team is the goal circle pairing of Sharelle McMahon and Catherine Cox. The two Australian Diamonds dynamites lit up the court with their explosiveness and deadeye accuracy. McMahon is a smooth mover, renowned for using her light and quick footwork to glide across the court while Cox can play both the holding and moving shooter with great ease. one thing that is fair to say is they hardly missed with the two making the most of their opportunities inside the goal circle and most importantly were not afraid to back themselves from range. Unlucky not to get the start was Anne Sargeant while the likes of midcourter Adine Wilson also just missed out despite pulling the bib on 79 times for the Ferns. Rounding out the team is former England Roses captain and defender Ama Agbeze with the lanky goal keeper known for her hunt for the ball, quick movement and ability to create something out of nothing.

 

Coaches:

GK: Roselee Jencke
GD: Claire McMenimen
WD: Simone McKinnis
C: Temepara Bailey
WA: Noeline Taurua
GA: Vicki Wilson
GS: Irene Van Dyk 

BENCH: Norma Plummer, Tracey Neville, Nicole Richardson

This squad is filled with some of the most recognised and highly established netball coaches at either an assistant or head coach position in the world. They range from international and domestic leagues but most importantly were silky smooth on the court. Firebirds head coach and former Diamonds defensive coach, Roselee Jencke is a star in her own right. She represented the Diamonds 43 times and was a real commanding presence down back with her hands over pressure and quick footwork to get around the body and force turnovers. After playing under Jencke at the Firebirds the now Diamonds specialist coach Clare McMeniman is set to pull on the goal defence bib. With class, defensive pressure and three-foot marking a couple of her key attributes it would be hard to go past the skilful defender. Although she was not the flashiest player it was her ability to shut down opponents with her tagging style of defence and skill to drop back into space and cherry pick passes and propel the ball back down the court with ease. Successful Vixens coach, Simone McKinnis has a firm grasp on the wing defence position thanks to her dynamic movement while veteran and now coach with the Northern Stars Temepara Bailey was a sure start in centre. Bailey is one of the most durable players able to run all day and all night, using her change of direction to full effect and delivering the ball with ease into the circle. Arguably one of the most praised coaches in netball history, Noeline Taurua pulls on the wing attack bib with the classy netballer in a league of her own when it comes to awareness and tactics. Taurua was clever with ball in hand able to see the play with ease and create space to allow attacking forays to unfold. Vicki Wilson was a key cog for the Diamonds with her precise shooting, impressive ball movement, clever footwork and versatility to switch between goal attack and goal shooter. After spending time with the Central Pulse last year, superstar goal shooter Irene Van Dyk was an easy call up. Van Dyk is one of the most accurate shooters the world has ever seen and was never fazed by the physicality of the contest. Her strong holds, incredible ability to stand and deliver from right underneath the ring and silky footwork put her in a league of her own while her high volume of shots made her the complete package. On the bench is none other than the great Norma Plummer, along with the retired Tracey Neville while Collingwood Magpies assistant coach Nicole Richardson completes the team.

Who would win?

Although there is plenty of class across both sides the defence end of the commentators’ squad is stacked with a host of game changers. Both Ellis and Geitz are renowned for their impressive feats in big grand finals or gold medal matches making them a tough challenge even for the likes of the ever-impressive Van Dyk. Throw in the tried and tested combination of McMahon and Cox in the goal circle and the commentators side has the slight upper hand given their strong connections across the court and explosiveness.

Who wins in this hypothetical battle?
Commentators
Coaches
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Compare the Pair: Natasha Chokljat and Kim Green

THE Draft Central Compare the Pair series will aim to analyse two players from different Australian Diamonds eras, with the next showcasing midcourters, Natasha Chokljat and Kim Green.

Two players with plenty of class and speed between them, Chokljat and Green have been some big highlights in the midcourt for the Diamonds in recent years. While Green was a specialist wing attack with flair and impeccable hands to match, Chokljat had the flexibility to rotate when required and was always able to shock her opposition with her quick feet and ability to find the ball no matter where she was on court. While the two players had different styles and approaches to the match, their respective dominance on the court is a testament to the confidence, fitness and consistency they brought to their time as Diamonds. With recognisable names across their respective eras of international netball, these two players were as tough as they get.

Throughout the early 2000s Chokljat was a key name amongst the Diamonds with her tenacity and versatility coming in droves. While she only collected the 29 international caps across three years with the Diamonds, her ability to create plays and work well with the likes of Sharelle McMahon, drawing on domestic experience, made her a crucial member for Australia. Chokljat was a real unknown quantity moving into wing attack, having played as a wing defence for majority of her career prior to Diamonds selection, but well and truly proved her place in the side with her defensive mindset delivering in droves to turnover the netball and spur on her team in attack. With speed to attack the ball and no qualms under pressure, Chokljat led the way with her no-nonsense attitude and constant pressure. While Chokljat may not have had the most star-studded career, with only the one major tournament under her belt, her work ethic and constant drive to improve and win made her a handy inclusion to have an immediate impact upon entering the court.

Green’s relatively early retirement from international netball came to a surprise to many, with the talented wing attack certainly able to continue at her prime well past 2015. However Green had achieved everything she could have by her retirement, finishing on the ultimate high with a 2015 Netball World Cup title – her second following the Diamonds 2011 victory – and a Commonwealth Games gold in 2014. Her star-studded career was no fluke however, with impeccable vision, an uncanny knack to hit circle edge and ability to feed the ball on a platter to her attackers. Green’s vision both on and off the ball was credit to her constant vigilance and high workrate even when the ball was at the other end, always keeping a keen eye on the game and using her leadership skills to build up those around her. Green was one of the most agile and well balanced wing attacks often tiptoeing around the circle edge and using her burst of speed to leave her opponent high and dry while her strength was second to none, hardly ever outmuscled in the contest. 

_

Natasha Chokljat

29 caps, 2003-2006

Kim Green

74 caps, 2008-2015

Which Diamonds wing attack would you pick?
Natasha Chokljat
Kim Green
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Netball fantasy team: All-Star Vixens v. All-Star Swifts

THERE is no denying that over the years both the Melbourne Vixens and NSW Swifts have welcomed their fair share of star players and have played in some epic battles to ignite the Sargeant-McKinnis Cup. Therefore, Draft Central has decided to create a fantasy team taking into account players that have been at each respective club for two or more seasons in order to form an all-stars list.

All-Star Melbourne Vixens

GK: Geva Mentor
GD: Bianca Chatfield
WD: Renae Ingles
C: Madi Browne
WA: Liz Watson
GA: Sharelle McMahon
GS: Caitlin Thwaites
BENCH: Mwai Kumwenda, Kate Moloney, Julie Corletto

The Melbourne Vixens have always had a plethora of stars wear the dress since their inception making them one of the biggest powerhouses in Australian netball history. Starting in defence, the influence of Geva Mentor was profound with the English international winning a whopping four best and fairest medals for the club ranging from 2012 to 2017 highlighting just how much of an influence she had down back with her impressive timing, defensive pressure and keen eye for intercepts. Fellow defender Bianca Chatfield was also renowned for her immense pressure over the shot, smothering style of play and ability to create turnovers while wing defence Renae Ingles is in a league of her own. Ingles has simply got better with time, credit to her high level of endurance, speed off the mark and deceptively long arms constantly able to force tips to disrupt any form of attacking flow for the opposition. Prior to joining the black and white in the Suncorp Super Netball, Madi Browne was a key cog in the attack unit for the Vixens with her precise movement, speed and well-weighted passes on full show. Browne is strong around the top of the goal circle able to hustle for position much like fellow teammate in this fantasy side Liz Watson. The wing attack is arguably one of the world’s best when it comes to consistency, vision and most importantly cleanliness hardly ever throwing away balls thanks to her impressive skillset. Talking of impressive skillsets cue Sharelle McMahon, the talented goal attack was a great servant to the Vixens guiding them to a premiership in 2009 with her accuracy to post, smooth movement and reliability on full display. McMahon never failed to disappoint for the Vixens faithful much like goal shooter Cailtin Thwaites who made her much awaited return in 2019 after somewhat of 10 years. Thwaites is consistent under the post, able to use her strength to hold space and most importantly score freely. She is not afraid to back herself from range and uses her quick feet to reposition and go to post. Unlucky not to make the starting seven is Mwai Kumwenda who has been a star for the Vixens since signing with them thanks to her aerial ability along with captain Kate Moloney through the midcourt. When it comes to defence Julie Corletto just missed out given the influence both Mentor and Chatfield at the club.

All-Star NSW Swifts

GK: Sharni Layton
GD: Mo’onia Gerrard
WD: Abbey McColloch
C: Kim Green
WA: Paige Hadley
GA: Susan Pettitt
GS: Catherine Cox
BENCH: Sam Wallace, Maddy Proud, Sonia Mkoloma,

Another powerhouse of netball in Australia is the NSW Swifts who have found their straps in recent seasons winning the premiership last year but have boasted impressive line-ups previously with the likes of Sharni Layton leading the way down back. Although she made the move in 2017 to the Magpies, Layton played a wealth of her career in the red and white where she made a name for herself with her physical style of play and ability to relentlessly hunt the ball. Throw in the likes of Mo’onia Gerrard and the Swifts had one of the toughest defence units given their physical pressure and tenacity. Gerrard was not afraid to put her body on the line throwing herself into every contest that came her way and using her quick feet to get around the body of her opponents. Through the midcourt, former captain Abbey McColloch was solid, consistently able to do the little things well and build pressure with her tagging style of defence. Centre come wing attack, Kim Green was renowned for her ability to do the unthinkable and thread the needle with her impossible passes. Green was in a league of her own and was a key contributor the Swifts early success with her high endurance, speed and workhorse mentality before switching to the GIANTS in 2017. Fellow midcourter Paige Hadley has developed into one of the clubs strongest leaders with her hard work, ability to hustle around the goal circle and versatility to switch between attack and defence with ease. Moving into the goal circle the Swifts boast one of the most stacked line-ups with veteran Susan Pettitt consistently showcasing her ability to glide across the court and hit the scoreboard. Her impressive netball IQ and ability to score from anywhere made her a handful but it is hard to go past the likes of Diamonds star and Swifts favourite Catherine Cox. The goal shooter could turn a game on its head with her accuracy and volume, not afraid to demand the ball under the post with her strong holds and fancy footwork. With so many players to choose from, current Swift Sam Wallace and Maddy Proud were unlucky to not make the starting seven while veteran Sonia Mkoloma just missed out.

Who would win?

It is near on impossible to decide who would win but given the Vixens star power both in the goal circle and defensively, one could argue that the scales would tilt in favour of the Vixens. Having the likes of Thwaites, McMahon under the post puts them in good stead to put up a hefty total while the defensive pressure through the midcourt coming from the likes of Ingles and Chatfield would be hard to quell. However, the Swifts are not without their own star power in the likes of Cox and Layton.

Which All-Star team would win?
All-Star Vixens
All-Star Swifts
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