Tag: Tayla Fraser

What if… Suncorp Super Netball had extended benches in 2020?

WITH the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) start date being announced as August 1 the teams are eager to get back out on court and perform. With plenty of preparation time on their hands each team is working on perfecting their connections across the court. However, the Australian Netball League (ANL) season has been cancelled for 2020 because of the financial impact COVID-19 has had on the sport, meaning that if injuries were to occur in SSN teams it could be difficult to find replacements. Committed to playing a full 60 game season, some teams could be in dire straits if they cannot access top-up players. 2019 was filled with a wealth of injuries throughout the season with many people hinting at an increased workload a potential reason for the increased injuries.

But what if the SSN had extended benches for the 2020 season?

An extended bench would allow flexibility for the clubs and more importantly help to look after the welfare of the players. While there is no denying that each team will be constantly hoping to put out their best and strongest team each time they take the court, having more players on the bench will help to alleviate the pressure on some of the starting seven and give them a break. Currently there are three players on the bench but an increased bench load could help the players in terms of management and also allow more netballers to get exposure to the major league.

With so many international netballers already gracing the courts of the Suncorp Super Netball, extended benches could allow for more to join to further strengthen the competition and develop players. With the Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) not running due to COVID-19 some clubs could be tempted to look beyond the borders and pick up international stars to join their squad to fill their needs whether it be in defence, midcourt or in attack. There is no shortage of options and all-star prospects with the likes of English Roses Rachel Dunn, Jade Clarke, Fran Williams and a host of others all hopeful possibilities if SSN extended their bench. Although the ANZ Premiership season is running, by the time SSN begins it will be towards the tail end of the competition and could see players join the Australian league much like Katrina Rore and Kayla Cullen did last year.

With ANL also not running it could be a great time to increase the bench to encourage the continued development of the young up and coming prospects in Australian netball. Each club in the SSN has an affiliation to an ANL team meaning they could draw potential players from the lower league into the SSN and give them exposure to the more fast paced, dynamic and world renowned netball competition. After spending a fair bit of time playing in the ANL Cara Koenen, blossomed into a commanding goaler with her silky movement and calm temperament for the Sunshine Coast Lightning. Similarly, Mel Bragg got the call up to the Magpies line-up this year along with the likes of Tayla Fraser to the Swifts, proving that further exposure to SSN pressure works wonders for developing players.

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.


#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)

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?
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Netball fantasy teams: Australia A v. England A

THERE is no denying that both Australia and England have a wealth of talented players coming up through the ranks therefore Draft Central has created two teams filled with players named in each country’s respective development, extended or futures squads and have played less than 15 international caps.

Australia A:

GK: Tara Hinchliffe
GD: Kim Jenner
WD: Amy Parmenter
C: Jess Anstiss
WA: Jemma Mi Mi
GA: Kiera Austin
GS: Cara Koenen

BENCH: Sophie Garbin, Tayla Fraser, Matilda Garrett

No player in this Australian team has made their international debut yet, but have been named in the development squad credit to their potential. When it comes to weaponry inside the goal circle it is fair to say Australia has a couple of damaging options. Coached by Noeline Taurua for the past three years, Sunshine Coast Lightning goaler Cara Koenen is a force to be reckoned with thanks to her ability to glide across the court, smooth transitions, versatility and ability to shoot from anywhere. Koenen has quickly become an integral member in the Lightning squad and given she is only 24 still has plenty to offer for future years. Fellow goaler Kiera Austin is another handy inclusion with the GIANTS shooter able to switch between both goal attack and wing attack seamlessly. Although she does not put up a wealth of shots her ball placement and precise movement makes her a constant threat in the goal circle. Defensively Australia has a couple of viable options with Firebirds duo Tara Hinchliffe and Kim Jenner both leading the way. The talented defensive unit have shown that they have class to boot with their hands over pressure, deceptive speed and ability to cause timely turnovers. Throw in their versatility able to seamlessly transition between goal keeper and goal defence with ease and both Hinchliffe and Jenner could build a formidable duo for years to come thanks to their tenacity and team work. Wing defence Amy Parmenter had a flash in the pan season in 2019 well and truly bursting onto the scene with her defensive prowess. Her connection with Jenner and Hinchliffe could hypothetically be the connection of the future down back with her gut running and speed a couple of key components of her game. Parmenter quickly became renowned for her pressure inside the defensive third, shadowing her opponents every move and clogging up space to pick off intercepts. Through the midcourt, defensive minded centre Jess Anstiss is another exciting prospect constantly hunting the ball and working hard to propel it back down into the attacking third. Meanwhile speedy wing attack, Jemma Mi Mi will bring plenty of excitement to the Australia A frontline with her dynamic movement, quick ball movement, fancy footwork and deadeye precision. Mi Mi is the third Firebirds player in the line-up showcasing just how much young up and coming talent they have in the ranks, with Mi Mi able to use her dash to create space in the attacking third and feed into the shooters easily. While there is plenty of class on the court, the bench is littered with a host of talent in the likes of Swifts duo Sophie Garbin and Tayla Fraser. Both showcased their dominance last season with Garbin doing the hard yards in the circle and Fraser highlighting her class with ball in hand. Matilda Garrett rounds out the Australia A team, with the highly touted defender able to use her height and smarts to cause havoc.


England A:

GK: Summer Artman
GD: Kate Shimmin
WD: Vicki Oyesola
C: Imogen Allison
WA: Gabby Marshall
GA: Sophie Drakeford-Lewis
GS: George Fisher

BENCH: Ella Clark, Yasmin Parsons, Halimat Adio

This team is based off England’s extended squad and players named in the Roses Futures programs. The players named have taken the court less than 15 times internationally and have plenty of potential to develop into key cogs for the Roses in years to come.Starting in the goal circle it is hard to go past the efforts of George Fisher. The talented Saracens Mavericks goal shooter has racked up 12 international caps and will be looking to become a regular in the squad. Renowned for her height, strong hands, clever holds and ability to score freely, Fisher has a bright future ahead of her. In goal attack is Sophie Drakeford-Lewis who was also named in the extended Roses development squad. Drakeford-Lewis is only 21 and is an exciting prospect able to glide across the circle and drive into the circle with confidence. While she does not put up a wealth of shots her ability to detect the space and command the ball under the post makes her an exciting prospect for the future. Through the midcourt the likes of youngster Gabby Marshall is another one to keep your eye on given her success at such a young age. Her on court leadership is something to be envious and knows what it takes to win under pressure taking out the Bronze medal in the 2017 Netball Youth World Cup. Her ability to find space in the attacking third and deliver the ball on a platter to goalers sets her apart from fellow midcourters. Team Bath’s Imogen Allison takes out the centre position with the up and coming centre court player named in the Roses Future squad. She is classy with ball in hand but most importantly is renowned for her immense defensive pressure and gut running. Similar to the likes of Serena Guthrie, Allison has a no-nonsense approach constantly throwing her body on the line to win the ball back and propel it down the court. At just 21 Vicki Oyesola has locked down the wing defence position but can move into circle defence such is her skill and netball smarts. Rounding out the defensive end is Kate Shimmin and Summer Artman. Shimmin is no stranger to the big stage with her lean over the shot, aerial ability and impressive timing just a couple of things in her extensive netball repertoire. In three games, so far in the Vitality Superleague for London Pulse the goal defender has mustered up 10 intercepts showcasing just how damaging she can be, with her read of the play and quick footwork to get into position. Artman also provides plenty of excitement with her spatial awareness to mirror her opponents every move and stop any easy entrance into the goal circle. Unlucky not to get the start in the fantasy squad is Ella Clark with the talented goaler making her way back after time out with basketball, Yasmin Parsons through the midcourt and Halimat Adio down back.

Who would win?

It is a tricky decision given the fact that a couple of players in the England squad have in fact pulled on the Roses dress but are yet to lockdown a permanent position at an international level. However, given the wealth of talent Australia has and exposure majority of players named in the fantasy side have, to the highest level of domestic competition it is feasible to believe that the girls in the green and gold will have the edge. Most players, frequently take the court for their respective Suncorp Super Netball squads meaning they are constantly tested against the highest echelon of players in the world and get time to hone in their craft and while England have a wealth of highly talented players may lack the extra physicality and stamina.

Who would win this clash?
Australia A (Yet to make a debut)
England A (15 caps max)
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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.

SSN training partners to watch in 2020

WITH the Suncorp Team Girls Cup announced and the Suncorp Super Netball season creeping up we take a look at one key training player from each team to watch over the season.

Adelaide Thunderbirds: Charlee Hodges (GA/GS)
Hodges is returning home after a stint in the ANZ Premiership in 2019 with the Northern Stars where she was a key cog in the attacking third. The talented goaler took her game play to another level last season using her silky movement and strong drives across the court to full effect. She will have to work on her accuracy and volume to post often fading in and out of games but that development will come with further exposure to the highest level and confidence. The goal attack can be a real playmaker in the goal circle with her deft touch and high netball IQ to read the play and deliver carefully crafted passes into the circle.

Collingwood Magpies: Brooke Allan (GK/GD)
She is a real excitement machine down back and has a plethora of skills in the defensive circle. Allan uses her height to impose herself on the court with her lean over the shot a key aspect of her game play. The tenacious defender is not afraid to back herself and could be a star of the future for the Pies with her read of the play and quick feet in the circle to continuously get hands to ball. Allan can switch between keeper and goal defence effortlessly making the most of her deceptive speed to gain control of the ball and propel it back down the court.

GIANTS: Matisse Letherbarrow (GS/GA)
At the ripe age of 18, Matisse Letherbarrow has made the switch from the Swifts to the GIANTS and could be a handy inclusion if called up. While the goal shooter is on the shorter side at 188cm, she is an exceptional mover and her accuracy to post is second to none. Her continued development and strength on the take will be key for the talented shooter who is not afraid to go to post from range. She has a high netball IQ able to identify the space with ease and change up her game play from a holding shooter to a moving one in the blink of any eye showcasing her talent.

Melbourne Vixens: Allie Smith (WD/GD)
Smith has untapped potential with the young defender plying her trade in the lesser leagues and hoping to bring that ruthless intent to the Vixens line-up. she is a real go-getter type of player throwing herself at every ball that comes her way and using her dynamic footwork to clog up space both in the middle and defensive thirds. Her versatility is a strong point of her game play along with her netball smarts to sense the moment and hunt for an intercept.

NSW Swifts: Tayla Fraser (WA/C)
Fraser has already made a name for herself on the Suncorp Super Netball stage, taking the competition by storm in the latter half of the season with her dynamic movement but will be looking to go one better in 2020. Although costly at times with ball-in-hand credit to her inexperience, the talented midcourter works tirelessly in the attacking third to find the circle edge and deliver bullet like passes into the goal circle. She uses her speed and change of direction to evade defenders and cause havoc in the attacking third making her an exciting prospect for the Swifts.

Queensland Firebirds: Rudi Ellis (GK/GD)
The talented defender has plenty of knowledge and experience having been with the Vixens for the past couple of years which can she bring to the young Firebirds line-up. Ellis is light on her feet able to cover the court with ease and uses her long reach to disrupt the flow of play time after time. The young defender backs herself with cross-court balls often out hunting for intercepts. She is versatile able to move from keeper to goal defence seamlessly and help with transition play down the court.

Sunshine Coast Lightning: Sienna Allen (GK/GD)
The young defender will add another element to the Lightning’s already stacked defence end with her read of the play and solid movement across the court. She still has plenty of development left in her, given her young age but her potential is endless.

West Coast Fever: Sunday Aryang (GK/GD)
The lanky defender is relatively unknown still but has plenty of potential with her defensive pressure and quick feet key attributes of her game. Her ability to confuse the space and use her lean over the shot to disrupt the flow in attack is impressive. She works tirelessly to win the ball back and create turnovers to give her side a chance to stay in the contest.

Briony Akle adds to silverware with Coach of the Year award

IN Netball Australia’s night of nights it was NSW Swifts coach Briony Akle that walked away with the Joyce Brown Coach of the Year award thanks to her excellent leadership throughout 2019 guiding her side to premiership glory.

Akle was humbled by the award, paying tribute to the staff behind the scenes at the Swifts and in particular, her assistant coach in Anita Keelan.

“I think this one is a bit different obviously standing up here and getting this award, for me we have created a really wonderful team at the Swifts,” Akle said. “It probably goes back to my performance team as well and Anita Keelan has been by my side and has been amazing. “Yes I love this award but I think it also goes to my team.”

After taking the helm in 2018 Akle built her side up with a combination of international stars and young up-and-coming Australian talent. Season 2019 was no easy feat for the developing coach, faced with a host of key players forced to the sideline. Captain, Maddy Proud tore her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) midway through the season while Kate Eddy suffered a season-ending ankle injury. Star goal attack Helen Housby also missed a large chunk of time after the World Cup with a soft tissue injury while Roses teammate Natalie Haythornthwaite did not take the court for the first half of the season meaning Akle had to rely on her next tier of players to stand up and steer the Swifts. The likes of young guns Sophie Garbin took control in Housby’s absence with Tayla Fraser and Sophie Halpin running rampant in wing attack to fill the void left by Proud. Credit where credit is due, Akle also brought in the big guns to bolster her undermanned line-up with Katrina Rore joining the squad fresh off a gold medal win at the World Cup along with a premiership in the ANZ Premiership with the Central Pulse.

Renowned for their vintage and clinical style of netball, the Swifts were hard to stop credit to their slick ball movement and lack of turnovers making them hard to score against. Akle’s game style allowed each player on court to have an influence and incorporate their own flair into the game while maintaining the Swifts’ signature style.

“For me the main thing is keeping things basic and keeping it real at the end of the day,” Akle said. “As a few people said tonight we have played this game since we were little and for me it’s probably about remembering it and enjoying it.”

Under her reign Sarah Klau also developed making her Diamonds debut along with partner in crime Maddy Turner who pulled on the green and gold in the recent Constellation Cup series, adding further accolades to her growing coaching portfolio.

With a premiership under their belt and a relatively unchanged line-up heading into 2020 the Swifts will be looking to build and go on to bigger and better things with Akle acknowledging the world class talent Suncorp Super Netball has to offer but also backing her side’s dedication and commitment.

“Yeah it’s a tough competition, week in week out you play against the world’s best and it’s keeping that challenge going for the girls and turn up every day,” she said.

Netball Australia Award Predictions

WITH the Australian netball awards season quickly approaching we cast an eye over a host of potential players that could win the prestigious awards ranging from international level to the Australian Netball League (ANL). This article is purely based on opinion and how we perceive each player’s season to have panned out.

Liz Ellis Diamond: Gretel Tippett (Queensland Firebirds)

It is hard to think of another player that has had as great an impact as Gretel Tippett has in the past year, with the talented goal attack taking her game to a whole new level in 2019. The typically explosive shooter owned the court both at international and domestic level, a clear testament to her sheer power, netball nous and dominance no matter her opponent. She broke records, becoming the first Australian to shoot 100 consecutive goals and putting an end to any doubters who questioned her accuracy, along with upping the volume of shots she attempted. Tippett was simply unstoppable when given the time and space and showed she can apply defensive pressure thanks to her three-foot marking and read of the play.

Wing attack and 2018 Liz Ellis Diamond winner Liz Watson also put her best foot forward for the coveted award, thanks to another year full of consistency, clever plays and dynamic movement proving to be a key cog through the midcourt. Her endurance was unquestionable running hard and creating attacking forays to surge her side ahead, but her season failed to have the same individual impact as Tippett.

Australian International Player of the Year: Gretel Tippett (Queensland Firebirds)

With Tippett expected to take out the Liz Ellis Diamond award expect the Firebirds shooter to make it two from two and take home the International Player of the Year award, credit to a stellar season in the green and gold. She was often the point of difference in tight matches, using her physicality and commanding height to full advantage to get under the skin of opponents and capitalise on her opportunities. Tippett did not disappoint in the Constellation Cup, only missing three goals from her 85 attempts at an impressive 96 per cent, highlighting her accuracy to post and class while her performance at the World Cup was unrivalled by any other Diamond. She showcased her versatility moving into goal shooter to become a holding goaler and key target under the post.

Despite missing a couple of games with injury, goal keeper Courtney Bruce was a dominant threat in the defensive goal circle thanks to her immense pressure and ball tracking ability making her a potential winner. Caitlin Thwaites is another player up there for many, and although she did not get a wealth of court time the retiring goal shooter served as a smokey with the fan favourite making an impact each time she took the court with her long range shooting and versatile game style.

Suncorp Super Netball Player of the Year: Karla Pretorius (Sunshine Coast Lightning)

After another big year of Suncorp Super Netball it is hard to narrow down a winner but it is equally as hard to go past Karla Pretorius with the talented goal defence reminding everyone why she is so dominant and exciting to watch. She was a key reason behind the Lightning’s success spurring them into another grand final tilt, albeit falling short. Pretorius lights the court up with her go-go gadget arms, closing speed and ability to pick pocket players making her Draft Central’s number one choice.

Also up there is fellow international and Lightning returnee, Laura Langman. On return, Langman proved to be a key cog through the midcourt and had some impressive games where she well and truly won games off her own back. In her first season of SSN Jamaican recruit Shamera Sterling could also give Pretorius a run for her money with the Adelaide Thunderbirds goal keeper highlighting her class to pick off passes with her lanky arms and impressive leap. Hot on her tail is the likes of Ash Brazill who lifted another gear in 2019 for the Magpies using her electric pace, aerial ability and defensive pressure to remain a threat across the court. Meanwhile NSW Swifts goal shooter Sam Wallace also put her hand up as a potential winner thanks to her cool, calm and collected nature under the post paired with her aerial ability, something which helped the NSW Swifts to their inaugural Super Netball premiership.

Joyce Brown Coach of the Year: Briony Akle (NSW Swifts)

It is no mean feat coaching your side to victory after failing to make the top four the year before, and NSW Swifts coach, Briony Akle well and truly showed it can be done. Akle proved that the mix between international star power and belief in youth was key to success with the likes of ANL players Elle Bennetts, Sophie Halpin and Tayla Fraser all playing a crucial role in their premiership. Despite being hit with a host of injuries with Helen Housby sidelined after World Cup, Maddy Proud relegated to the bench after tearing her ACL and Kate Eddy out with a season ending ankle injury the talented coach pulled it all together only in her second year as head coach.

Grand final opposition coach Noeline Taurua also posed a good candidate taking her side to their third consecutive grand final while the ever-reliable Simone McKinnis could have also been selected but in the end it was hard to deny Akle given her successful 2019 campaign.

Suncorp Super Netball Young Star: Cara Koenen (Sunshine Coast Lightning)

It was a break out season for the 24-year old shooter who well and truly announced herself on the domestic stage, mixing it with some of the world’s best and most talented defenders. Koenen emerged midway through the season as a key player for the Lightning with her height, strong holds and deceptively silky movement a key feature of her game making her a front runner for this year’s Young Star award.

Koenen was no easy pick with the likes of Queensland defensive duo Kim Jenner and Tara Hinchliffe also in contention for the Young Star award given their impressive season, but both suffered injuries forcing them to the sidelines for weeks at a time. Another potential was Sophie Garbin who held her own in her non-preferred position of goal attack in the absence of teammate Housby, using her accuracy to post and strong movement to pose a threat. But none seemed to have the same impact as Koenen who at times was a barometer for the Sunshine Coast with her accuracy, volume and general netball nous.

2019 SSN season team review: NSW Swifts

IT was a fairytale season for the NSW Swifts, claiming their first premiership since 2008. Despite being devastated with injuries throughout the season the Swifts maintained their structures and game plan, treasuring the ball and working it down the court with ease.

Position: 2nd
Percentage: 111.92%


Goal keeper Sarah Klau had a breakout season, imposing herself on the contest up the defensive end with her hands over pressure, rotation through the circle and ability to read the play. Her combination with Maddy Turner steadily developed over the season with the duo posing a dominant threat, nullifying access into the goal circle and picking off passes. Prior to her season-ending ankle injury, Kate Eddy worked wonders with the towering wing defence able to ply her trade in a number of positions and force turnovers with her extra height and deceptive speed. But with Eddy gone the introduction of Katrina Rore paid dividends with the New Zealand international adding extra experience, netball nous and X-factor down back. Captain Maddy Proud’s season was cut short, tearing her Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) in Round 7 and while her absence was sorely missed, English international Nat Haythornthwaite along with Elle Bennetts and Tayla Fraser all did their bit to propel the ball forward. Paige Hadley also lifted her intensity, taking full control of the midcourt in Proud’s absence. Goal attack, Helen Housby was plagued with injury in the latter part of the season but showcased her class and skill to stand up in the big moments and command the ball when needed, while Sam Wallace lifted another gear, working tirelessly under the post. Wallace stood up in the goal circle using her strong holds and accuracy to post to cause havoc for the opposition.

Shining light:

The Trinidad and Tobago goal shooter is no stranger to the big stage, well and truly bringing the heat in season 2019. Cool, calm and composed under the post, Wallace looked unphased by everything that came her way, reeling in lobs and using her silky footwork to manoeuvre around the body of her opponent. She backed herself from range and showed she was not afraid to swing the ball around the circle edge to reposition when needed. Wallace constantly provided an option under the post using her commanding figure to slot goal after goal, making her an integral player for the Swifts.

Predictions 2020:

This year proved that the Swifts have plenty of depth despite being struck by injury time and time again. The likes of Fraser, Sophie Garbin and Turner all showed they have what it takes to make it to the big time and with further court time can clearly develop into stars of the future. The core group of players at the Swifts is already strong meaning the further development of the young up and coming players could cause headaches for the opposition. Garbin has showcased her versatility throughout the season switching between goal attack and goal shooter seamlessly while Fraser provides plenty of energy, speed and excitement to the attack end.