Tag: Tracey Neville

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: 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.


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.



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?
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Netball World Cup preview: England

THE 2019 Netball World Cup sees 16 countries head to Liverpool, England, with 60 matches played over the 10 day period between July 12-21. Countries have been split into four pools, playing a round robin in that pool before going further depending on their respective success.

England head into the 2019 Netball World Cup with the home court advantage and a point to prove, looking to back up their historic 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medal and a dominant few years on the world stage. The Roses come into this series with a wealth of experience under their belts and no less than 800 caps among the 12 players. However with experience comes age, and though age is just a number it could call match fitness into question given the short recovery time between games. The Roses are one of the most highly rated outfits in this series, so will certainly be one of the countries to watch. England are in Pool D, taking on Uganda, Scotland and Samoa in the opening matches before likely proceeding forward in the competition.

England Roses coach, Tracey Neville has stated this will be her final competition at the helm, and with it has put forward a Roses side that looks dominant on paper and can certainly back it up in practice. The side will look to exciting defensive midcourter, Serena Guthrie as captain after the shock drop of ex-captain and defender, Ama Agbeze prior to selection, proving Neville has a point to prove. Joining Guthrie in the midcourt are Jade Clarke, Nat Panagarry, Nat Haythornthwaite and Chelsea Pitman, bringing an exciting mix of versatility and consistency to the fray. While Haythornthwaite has the ability to rotate through both wing attack and the goal circle, Pitman brings back some necessary stability as a key position player, playing solely in wing attack but bringing impeccable timing and pinpoint feeds to the court. Guthrie, Clarke and Panagarry all have the ability to rotate around the midcourt where necessary, posing a dominant force with their respective talent and ability to capitalise on every turnover. In attack is the ever reliable pairing of Jo Harten and Helen Housby, who scored the winning goal for England in the Commonwealth Games, while Rachel Dunn proved a dominant force at the post in January’s Northern Quad Series, able to rotate in when necessary. The trio have speed and accuracy to boot, and with Haythornthwaite able to read play to both feed and shoot, England’s attack will be a force to be reckoned with. England have arguably one of the best defensive lineups of the competition, with Geva Mentor, Layla Guscoth likely the starting defenders, credit to their individual strengths and innate ability to work in tandem. Meanwhile, the likes of Eboni Usoro-Brown and young gun, Fran Williams will likely start on the sideline but are certainly able to break open a game with ease if given the opportunity.


Round 1: vs. Uganda, July 12
Round 2: vs. Scotland, July 13
Round 3: vs. Samoa, July 14

Predicted finish: 1st

Battle of the minds: Neville v. Alexander

IT was the finale to what had been an unforgettable Quad Series. England was looking to repeat its Commonwealth Games heroics and knock Australia off for the first time on home soil, while the Australians hoped to move through the series undefeated and take home the title. While the battle on the court was heated, it was the battle of the minds off the court that counted the most with England coach Tracey Neville flexing her netball prowess. The Roses coach showed she was not afraid to pull punches bringing on the likes of Rachel Dunn who played a key part in unravelling the Australian Diamonds.

Dunn, who burst onto the scene in 2004 showed that age is no problem making her presence well and truly felt on the court slotting 24 from 25 at 96 per cent. Her smooth movement in the goal circle and impeccable timing proved to be hard to stop for the Diamonds who were without goal keeper Courtney Bruce. Neville’s genius to bring on the star goal shooter showed her hand when it comes to netball smarts. Dunn who had disappeared from the international scene for a while did not look like she had skipped a beat, pairing well with long bomb specialist Jo Harten and claiming Player of the Match credit to her accurate shooting. The unknown quantity was hard to combat with her experience, smooth movement and general netball smarts on show against the young defensive end of the Diamonds.

It was up to Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander to combat the tactical moves made by the Commonwealth gold medal coach who seemed to have all the answers. With Dunn excelling in goal shooter the tactical change from Alexander to bring on April Brandley in goal keeper stemmed the bleeding momentarily. While height may have been an issue, Brandley matched Dunn for aerial ability and netball smarts, slowly quelling the impact of the Roses goal shooter.

Thanks to her height and long wingspan, Layla Guscoth proved to be a dominant force in at wing defence for the Roses. Away from her typical home at goal defence, the now doctor and international netball player was a revelation in wing defence credit to Tracy Neville’s ability to think outside the box. Guscoth’s smothering defence was integral in disrupting the offensive play for the Aussies who rely on quick, short and sharp passes to penetrate the circle edge.

While Neville showed her hand in regards to tactical moves, the world number one coach did not shy away from the challenge. With injuries galore, Alexander proved that depth and versatility is one of Australia’s most important assets, bringing Steph Wood on into goal shooter to substitute Caitlin Thwaites, who at times struggled against Geva Mentor. Standing at 175cm, Wood proved that height is not all that matters with her dynamic movement and silky shots paying dividends for the Diamonds. In an unconventional move, Alexander gave arguably the world’s best defender something different to consider with Wood renowned for her excellent timing, base line drives and ability to sweep across the top of the circle.

“We really attempted to change the attacking strategy of being squashed into spaces by playing wider and with straight lines,” Alexander said.

Though Australia lost the match, they still claimed their third consecutive Quad Series title credit to their hard work, versatility and clever game play. However, Tracey Neville’s camp will feel as if they have the edge over the world number ones who were unable to get over the top of the Roses in what was a thrilling match.

The Wash-up: Northern Quad Series

WITH the last international series played before the World Cup in July, South Africa, England, New Zealand and Australia put their best foot forward in the Northern Quad Series. Along with some top team performances, some players really stamped their authority on the competition.

Though Australia were forced to make a multitude of changes due to injuries to three of their starting seven, the Diamonds were ferocious and showed that they have plenty of depth, with the likes of Jamie Lee Price stepping up in wing defence due to vice-captain Gabi Simpson’s absence. The youngster showed plenty of courage and was not afraid of the contest going in hard to win the loose ball. While in the goal circle the ever-reliable Caitlin Thwaites capitalised on her court time, with captain, Caitlin Bassett out with a broken arm. Thwaites was solid in at goal shooter and paired well with superstar, Gretel Tippett out in goal attack who provided plenty of attacking flair and athleticism. While the combination of speed demon Kelsey Browne and Liz Watson was also impressive to watch with their pin point precision passes and quick hands.

For the Roses, while they were close to claiming the Northern Quad Series title, they fell agonisingly short. The win over Australia will provide them with plenty of confidence going into the World Cup and coach Tracey Neville was not afraid to ring in the changes with the likes of Rachel Dunn making her comeback in at goal shooter. The rotation through wing attack was pivotal in ensuring that the ball got into the circle with ease. Both Chelsea Pitman and Natalie Haythornthwaite were excellent in the position and fed the ball nicely into the circle, opening up space for the shooters. Star goal keeper, Geva Mentor was at her damaging best once again throughout the series thanks to her smothering defence, clean hands and impressive ability to read the ball and impact the play. Layla Guscoth also shone for England and proved her versatility swinging from goal defence to wing defence with ease.

South Africa came out guns blazing and definitely had a point to prove beating the reining Commonwealth gold medallists and taking it to New Zealand. Lenize Potgieter put on a shooting masterclass showing great composure under pressure and more importantly was accurate to post. Her smooth movement and rotations in the circle were hard to stop while up the other end, Karla Pretorius and Phumza Maweni starred as a dynamic duo. Both defenders applied plenty of defensive pressure, attacked the ball and put serious doubt into oppositions mind thanks to their long reach and intimidating game play. The work of Bongi Msomi was also highly impressive credit to her explosive speed, quick hands and general netball smarts. Her clever feeds into the goal circle were pivotal in assisting shooting machine Potgieter who was a clear standout for the Spar Proteas throughout the series.

The Silver Ferns will take plenty of confidence away from this series, though they only claimed the one victory they showed plenty of potential. The return of veteran goal defence Casey Kopua was important for the Ferns as she provided plenty of defensive pressure and experience. The combination of Kopua, Laura Langman and Maria Folau was vintage Ferns and will spark great enthusiasm for the World Cup with their class and silky skills. Youngsters such as goal keeper Jane Watson, also stood up and impressed with her defensive play and ability to get hands to ball. New Zealand won a thriller against South Africa and stayed in touch with the Diamonds but at times were unable to capitalise on their good game plan making them a real threat if all falls into place come the World Cup.