Tag: sophie craig

Who will develop the most in the 2020 Suncorp Super Netball season?

AFTER an action packed 2019 Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) season, there will be plenty of players hoping to kick it up a gear in 2020 and really showcase their X-factor on the court. Each player proved they have the capabilities to mix it with the best in the league and will be keen to take that next step in their development throughout the SSN season and potentially prove their worth for an international call up.

Cara Koenen: Sunshine Coast Lightning

Without the likes of Australian Diamonds captain, Caitlin Bassett at the helm last season, Sunshine Coast local Koenen stood tall under the post. Vying for a spot against new Ugandan recruit Peace Proscovia the young goal shooter showcased her dynamism, strength, skill and accuracy to post. The 190cm goaler steadily built into the season and most importantly grew in confidence, using her clever body positioning to command the ball and apply scoreboard pressure. At 24, Koenen still has plenty of development left in her but if last year is anything to go by Lightning fans have plenty to be excited about heading into season 2020 with her versatility an obvious factor in her game play. Her ability to seamlessly switch between goal shooter and goal attack makes her a dominant threat while her height, quick footwork and long arms allow her to reel in balls that would typically fly over the baseline. More court time surrounded by some of the best players in the world will aid Koenen’s game style and allow her to play with more freedom and confidence.

Amy Parmenter: GIANTS

The highly touted wing defence took the competition by storm last year, bursting onto the scene and not looking back. Her speed off the mark is second to none able to stream down the court and fly past to pick off an intercept. Parmenter’s quick change of direction and hands over pressure is also highly impressive. While she faded out of high intensity games at times the 22-year-old will be hoping to put out a more consistent performance in 2020 to really assert herself as a dominant player in the SSN. Already a threat in the air with her intercepting skill, her court coverage is equally impressive able to shadow her opponent step for step and block their every move to cause confusion in the attacking third and create errors. Renowned for her defensive traits, Parmenter can swing into centre and showcase her attacking tendencies with her strength around circle edge and deliver well-weighted passes into the goalers. With further exposure at the highest level her netball smarts will only continue to develop and make her a player to watch.

Kim Jenner: Queensland Firebirds

Entering her third season with the Queensland Firebirds, Jenner has quickly become an integral member in their defensive unit. Renowned for her more physical style of defence the 22-year-old will be hoping to clean up in 2020 to ensure she stays in play more and can assert herself on the attackers. She is an excitement machine that constantly sets tongues wagging with her ability to take a huge intercept and read the play. Her ability to regularly interchange between both goal keeper and goal defence is an impressive feat. Standing at 184cm the highly skilled defender is lightning quick on her feet, able to get to contests and create timely deflections. She is strong in the air credit to her leap while her strong hands enable her to reel in intercepts or swat away balls entering the defensive third. Her constant movement and repositioning causes headaches for attackers with Jenner confusing the space to pick off intercepts. Her attacking drive through midcourt is another key element of her game play and will only further develop with more court time. She proved she could match it with the best and hold her own and while she was worn down at times by the experienced players there is no denying that Jenner has plenty of grit and determination.

Sophie Craig: NSW Swifts

Coming off a premiership last season and earning herself a full time contract this season expect Craig to up the ante even more in 2020 to prove it was not a one off. The skilled midcourter has versatility to boot able to pull on the wing attack, centre and wing defence bib, the latter her preferred. She is clever with ball in hand and strong around the circle edge, denying her opponent any easy passage into the attacking third. Craig proved to be a crucial cog in the Swifts premiership last year and more court time in 2020 will only foster the development of the dynamic midcourter. The 177cm wing defence is not the speediest player to grace the court but her netball understanding, ball placement and drive through the centre is what sets her apart. She provided a good chop out for the Swifts last season, injecting plenty of energy and defensive pressure when on court but will be wanting to ensure she can sustain that over a period of time in 2020 to have her intended impact.

What if… the international players were not allowed to return to SSN?

WITH the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) hopeful to return in the coming months, star players from across the globe are slowly making their way back to Australia and their respective teams ahead of the impending season. The Adelaide Thunderbirds will welcome back three of their stars with Lenize Potgieter and Shadine van der Merwe returning from South Africa while Layla Guscoth is set to make the journey from England. Phumza Maweni will re-join the Sunshine Coast Lighting while Nat Haythornthwaite will make her way back to the New South Wales Swifts. Each player, plays an integral role for their respective side often forming the crux of the squad, providing that element of experience and class across the court.

But what if they were not allowed to re-enter the competition? How would that effect each club and the overall competition?

The Adelaide Thunderbirds would have been hit the hardest if Potgieter, van der Merwe and Guscoth were all not able to re-join the squad with each of them expected to earn a starting spot. While Guscoth missed the second half of last season due to an Achilles injury the talented defender will be eager to get back out on court and prove her worth. The lanky goal defence oozes class, understanding and a sense of calmness down back able to call the shots and apply pressure over the shot. With Maria Folau retiring last year and Sasha Glasgow out with an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), the goal shooter position all but falls to Potgieter. The South African is a sure shot under the post able to find space with ease and most importantly convert with ease. She is quick and unconventional on the shot and puts up a high volume of goals making her the go-to for any team. The final piece of the puzzle is van der Merwe with the versatile defender able to seamlessly transition from wing defence to goal defence when needed. Her defensive pressure, quick footwork and tagging style of defence makes her another key cog for the Thunderbirds. While Adelaide have a wealth of options without these international stars they could have been facing a very difficult year unable to generate scoring power and defensive pressure.

Maweni’s combination with South African and Lightning teammate Karla Pretorius is simply unstoppable when on song. The two work seamlessly together able to rotate through the defensive circle with ease and use their three-foot marking to create doubt in the goalers mind. The Spar Proteas goal keeper is light on her feet able to read the play and go out hunting for the intercept something that the Lightning would be missing from their line-up which is renowned for stimulating turnover ball. Without Maweni the Lightning would be lacking that extra layer of class and connection with Pretorius given the two work like clockwork.

Although the NSW Swifts have a wealth of depth on the bench with the likes of Tayla Fraser, Paige Hadley, Sophie Craig and the inevitable return of captain Maddy Proud the absence of Haythornthwaite would be sorely missed. The England Roses wing attack sees the game in a way no one else can delivering pin point passes into the likes of Sam Wallace and Helen Housby. She is nimble on her feet able to dart around the attacking third and hold strong on the circle edge while her ability to switch into goal attack adds another string to her bow. If Haythornthwaite was not able to return to the Swifts they would lose that versatility and composing presence in the attacking third.

Top 15 SSN training partners: #3 Tayla Fraser

WITH a number of netball leagues across the world being suspended due to COVID-19, the Draft Central team is making a case for the top 15 training partners stepping up to the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) plate in 2020. Sitting at number three is NSW Swifts midcourter Tayla Fraser, another talented player the Swifts blooded up in 2019. With so much talent at our disposal, this countdown is purely opinion-based, taking into consideration recent form, individual potential and future development.

A real energiser bunny and tough competitor at any level, Fraser’s level-headedness earned her a couple of Super Netball caps last year with the NSW Swifts thanks to injuries aplenty. While she was fortunate to tag along with the side in its premiership season, Fraser well and truly proved her elevated position in the squad, taking on whatever came at her with her clean hands and precision with ball in hand. A real speedster with plenty of potential, Fraser’s footwork allowed her to find circle edge with ease, able to play through both wing attack and centre to apply pressure in attack. Her strong drives and speed off the mark enabled her to burst away from her opposition, driving the play down the court and feeding into the circle well. Meanwhile, her ability to assist her goalers with her positioning and ability to hold ground on circle edge allow her to feed with ease.

With fellow training partners Elle Bennetts and Sophie Craig also getting elevated during the 2019 season, Fraser flourished with the Swifts to become a formidable option through the midcourt and will hope to get the call up again this year given she already has the partnerships on court ticked off. With speed and an ability to generate clever play with ball in hand, 20-year-old Fraser still has plenty of development to come making her an exciting future prospect in the Super Netball. With plenty of accolades to her name already – including being part of the Australian Under-17 and Under-19 squads – it is only a matter of time before the speedster takes the court regularly thanks to her ability to adapt when required, always giving her all.

TOP 15 SSN TRAINING PARTNERS SO FAR:

#15 Ashlee Unie (Sunshine Coast Lightning)
#14 Ruby Barkmeyer (Melbourne Vixens)
#13 Tippah Dwan (Queensland Firebirds)
#12 Matisse Letherbarrow (GIANTS Netball)
#11 Chelsea Blackman (Adelaide Thunderbirds)
#10 Sunday Aryang (West Coast Fever)
#9 Latika Tombs (GIANTS Netball)
#8 Sharni Lambden (Collingwood Magpies)
#7 Jacqui Newton (Melbourne Vixens)
#6 Allie Smith (Melbourne Vixens)
#5 Elle Bennetts (GIANTS Netball)
#4 Brooke Allan (Magpies Netball)
#3 Taylah Fraser (NSW Swifts)

Top 15 SSN training partners: #5 Elle Bennetts

WITH a number of netball leagues across the world being suspended due to COVID-19, the Draft Central team is making a case for the top 15 training partners stepping up to the Suncorp Super Netball plate in 2020. Heading up the Top 5 is dual NSW athlete Elle Bennetts, who plays for NSW Swifts in the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) and switches both code and team to GWS GIANTS in the AFL Women’s during the netball off-season.

A talented midcourt speedster, Bennetts was a shoe-in for this list thanks to her ability to come on and impact the game no matter her opposition. One of the older training partners on the list, 30-year-old Bennetts made her Super Netball debut in 2019 and collected another few domestic caps along the way thanks to injuries in the Swifts camp. With cleanliness and good anticipation of both the ball and player, Bennetts is a player who can create as much play as she blocks, able to be a versatile midcourter rotating through wing attack and centre. Bennetts came up through the Victorian pathway, spending six years with the Victorian Fury before heading north to play AFL Women’s, joining the NSW Waratahs’ camp along the way, continuing her time in the Australian Netball League, albeit in a different state.

With an ability to hit circle edge, Bennetts is a threatening attacker with clean hands and balance, while her wingspan allows her to reach for crucial ball and bolster the Swifts midcourt. With plenty of endurance and quick feet to evade opposition, Bennetts is a clean player with plenty of experience and will look to step up from her 2019 form, able to propel the ball down the court and find options in and around the circle to influence the game. Working with the likes of captain Maddy Proud, Diamond Paige Hadley and England Rose, Nat Haythornthwaite, Bennetts has plenty of talented names to learn from as well as recently elevated Sophie Craig, who provides a handy option to work with given she was in the same position last year.

TOP 15 SSN TRAINING PARTNERS SO FAR:

#15 Ashlee Unie (Sunshine Coast Lightning)
#14 Ruby Barkmeyer (Melbourne Vixens)
#13 Tippah Dwan (Queensland Firebirds)
#12 Matisse Letherbarrow (GIANTS Netball)
#11 Chelsea Blackman (Adelaide Thunderbirds)
#10 Sunday Aryang (West Coast Fever)
#9 Latika Tombs (GIANTS Netball)
#8 Sharni Lambden (Collingwood Magpies)
#7 Jacqui Newton (Melbourne Vixens)
#6 Allie Smith (Melbourne Vixens)
#5 Elle Bennetts (GIANTS Netball)

What if … Katrina Rore did not join the Swifts?

THE 2019 season of Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) was a drought breaking and historic year for the New South Wales Swifts winning their inaugural SSN premiership but it was not without their fair share of challenges.

The Swifts were dealt plenty of injury blows throughout the season with England Roses wing attack and part time shooter Natalie Haythornthwaite sidelined for a large portion of the season, fellow Roses representative Helen Housby forced to the bench with a leg injury and Kate Eddy dealt a season ending ankle injury. But the biggest blow of them all was that to inspirational leader and captain Maddy Proud with the dynamo centre rupturing her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) midway through the season.

Bruised and battered the Swifts reverted to their up and coming stocks with the likes of Tayla Fraser and Elle Bennetts taking to the court to bolster their line-up. Former Silver Ferns, defender Kayla Cullen also made a brief appearance in the blue, red and white but was just a temporary replacement. While they offered fresh legs and a new perspective on the game the biggest coup of them all was the acquisition of Katrina Rore. Fresh off a premiership with the Central Pulse in the ANZ Premiership, Rore added that extra touch of class around the court while also boasting versatility to move between circle defence and wing defence.

What if Rore did not join the NSW Swifts? Would they have won the premiership?

Although the Swifts were littered with stars, Rore’s influence down in defence was unquestionable with the steady head and experience defender a commanding presence. Her ability to read the play, stand up in the big moments and do the unthinkable is what made her such an influential presence throughout her time in the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN). Rore’s long arms, deceptive speed and high netball IQ played a pivotal role in shutting down opposition attacks.

While she spent the majority of her time out in wing defence, a position she has quickly made her own, her seamless transition into circle defence was something the Swifts made the most out of. Her presence in the goal circle with her lean over the shot, body-on-body physicality and quick feet to manoeuvre around the body created doubt in feeders minds. She was quickly able to adapt to the game play of fellow defenders Maddy Turner and Sarah Klau while the likes of Sophie Craig also had important cameos. Rore has an uncanny tact to go out and hunt the ball, using her impressive timing, long limbs and cleanliness to stop the ball from entering the attacking third with ease while also using her attacking mindset to propel the ball back down the court.

Rore had a game changing impact on the Swifts defensive line-up offering that calming sense down back when things got frantic and pulling out the unthinkable to keep her side afloat. Her experience and netball nous helped to guide the Swifts to victory even when she had a quiet day out on the court. While New South Wales had a solid team with a host of stars in their own right it is fair to say that she was the final piece in the jigsaw puzzle that got them over the line.

Would NSW Swifts have still won the 2019 SSN title without Katrina Rore?
Yes
No
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Swifts knock over Magic in Trans-Tasman pre-season battle

THE New South Wales (NSW) Swifts picked up where they left off last year in the Suncorp Super Netball, with a strong win against cross-ditch rivals Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic 54-66. It was relatively even for majority of the game before the Swifts ran away with it in the final term.

It was a hot start from the Swifts, bursting out of the blocks and quickly opening up a four goal to zip lead before the Magic found their feet. Their connections down the court were strong smoothly transitioning from attack to defence with ease and using a variety of speed to run the court. NSW opened up a seven goal lead midway through the quarter but the Magic drew it back to five at quarter time credit to their increased pressure. Roses captain, Nat Haythornthwaite was on fire in the opening 15 minutes showcasing her impressive balance on the circle edge and dynamic movement time and time again. Goal keeper, Sarah Klau continued her brilliant form strong on the rebound, and applying good aerial pressure picking off intercepts. Sam Wallace brought out the party tricks in the dying minutes of the quarter nailing a goal falling out of court and off balance. While the Swifts were hitting their straps, the Magic seemed to struggle in the goal circle with Abigail Latu-Meafou and Kelsey McPhee unable to find their range.

The Magic wrestled back the momentum in the opening stages of the quarter applying a heap of defensive pressure to deny any easy access into the goal circle and causing congestion in the attacking third. After a shaky start, McPhee built into the game with her strong hands on the take and ability to use her feet to open up space in the goal circle. The connection between Latu-Meafou and McPhee also started to develop with the two linking up in the goal circle and drawing the defender to leave the other open under the post. Up the other end, Georgia Tong lifted her work load in defence to cause confusion in the Swifts goal circle while new recruit Holly Fowler plied her trade in wing defence with her hands over pressure. Despite the increased pressure, Wallace remained the dominant shooter slotting them from everywhere in the circle. The contest between centres Paige Hadley and Sam Winders was one to watch with both players going toe-to-toe throughout the term to create attacking forays for their respective sides. Hadley was quick on her feet often receiving the ball on the fly and dishing off carefully crafted passes to deliver into Wallace and Helen Housby to gradually extend their lead 29-34.

With the lead in their favour the Swifts rung in the changes across the court after half time with Tayla Fraser coming on in centre and not skipping a beat. The speedster zipped around the court weaving in and out to re-offer on the circle edge. Housby moved to the bench making way for Sophie Garbin with the goal attack using her strength to full effect while the defensive end also had a shakeup with Sophie Craig (nee Halpin) moving into goal defence and Olivia Coleman donning the goal keeper bib. But the Swifts were not the only ones to tinker with the line-up with Erena Mikaere injected into the game. Mikaere used her body-on-body style of defence to full effect while also tracking the ball well swatting away a pass entering the circle credit to her three-foot marking and wingspan. Through the midcourt Ariana Cable-Dixon upped the ante using her change of direction and quick hands to deliver balls into the shooters. Overall it was a more even quarter with both sides going goal for goal for the majority but transition lacked fluidity for both sides.

After a strong third quarter performance, the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic fell away in the fourth simply unable to match the Swifts depth on the bench and high level of endurance. NSW well and truly kicked it up a gear going on a scoring spree with Garbin and Housby pairing well in the goal circle to link up and create strong shooter-to shooter interplay. Garbin let loose with a couple of well-timed baseline drives while the entire Swifts line-up grew in confidence releasing long bombs into the goal circle unfazed by the Magic’s defence. The Magic emptied out their bench with Australian Georgia Marshall making her way onto the court in goal attack while Silver Ferns speedster Whitney Souness also got some court time using her drives to the top of the circle to open up space but it was a little too late unable to peg the margin back.