You knew the 2019 Suncorp Super Netball signings window would be entertaining, and the clubs are certainly delivering!
Lightning lose cogs in each third
Rumours were swirling, Giants fans hoped it was true, and then finally they found relief at 7am on Tuesday with the announcement that they had secured Diamonds captain Caitlin Bassett for the next three years.
Bassett wasn’t the only stalwart to leave Sunshine Coast Lightning, with Geva Mentor also announced on Tuesday as another surprise defector. Mentor cited family reasons as the driver in her decision and has opted to move to Melbourne and join the ranks of the Collingwood Magpies for the next two seasons.
The hits kept coming for Lightning with Wednesday’s announcement that mid-court dynamo Kelsey Browne was also heading home to Melbourne. The Diamond-to-be also cited family reasons for the move and will take the court with her sister Madi Robinson, in 2019 at the Magpies. This move does beg the question, of the four strong midcourters now signed with the Magpies, who is going to be watching from the sidelines?
Lightning’s recruitment coups
Lightning fans will find some solace in the club signing two world-class athletes this week. New Zealand’s powerful midcourter, and Lightning foundation member, Laura Langman has re-joined the club after a year-long hiatus from netball. No doubt she won’t miss a beat when she hits preseason training, but what does the signing mean for the development of Laura Scherian and Maddy McAuliffe who put out stellar performances during the 2018 season?
The gaping hole left by Bassett’s departure wasn’t vacant for late Thursday afternoon it was revealed that they had secured the highly sought-after signature of Peace Proscovia. The Uganda She-Cranes captain was on everyone’s radar after a stand-out performance at this year’s Commonwealth Games. She will bring more movement and athleticism to the Lightning’s goal circle and more headaches for opposition defenders thanks to her superior elevation and court smarts.
Other player movements
Another big evacuee was revealed on Wednesday, which some fans didn’t find a surprise: Caitlin Thwaites. What followed was 24 hours of speculation of where she would sign next: Could it be with Lightning? Perhaps a move to the Adelaide Thunderbirds was on the cards. Alas, she chose to go back to where she started and re-join the ranks of the Melbourne Vixens. This is a pinnacle signing for the Vixens with Mwai Kumwenda likely to miss most of the 2019 season after rupturing her ACL in Round 13 this year. Now they won’t miss a beat with Thwaites at the helm.
Another Magpie to leave the nest was Alice Teague-Neeld, who is making the long-haul to play with the West Coast Fever for the next three years. This move has many netball fans confused, as it was expected that Kaylia Stanton would don the goal attack bib left by Nat Medhurst’s dumping. While Stanton has signed for the 2019 season with the Fever, fans assumed that coach Stacey Marinkovich would elevate another West Australian development player and give Stanton the start that she deserves. We will now have to wait and see who will be the bench-warmer.
Aussie shooting talent sign in New Zealand
The 2019 recruitment window has, so far, seen a minor exodus of Australia’s up-and-coming shooters, who are opting to fly across the ditch and sign with ANZ Premiership clubs. Former Adelaide Thunderbirds Charlee Hodges and Abigail Latu-Meafau have signed with Northern Stars and Waikato BOP Magic respectively, and Giants tall timber Kristina Brice has taken up a contract with Northern Mystics.
These movements could be caused by the number of import shooters which Super Netball clubs have brought in, at the expense of the development of Aussie talent. While these imports are exciting for netball fans, it does cause worry for Diamonds’ fans who are starting to see a drought of Australian goal shooter talent on our shores.
Elevation of training partners
A few teams have shown faith in their 2018 training partners by elevating them into the 2019 Super Netball squads. Last week it was the Queensland Firebirds elevating Tippah Dwan as their third goaler and this week West Coast Fever elevated defender Olivia Lewis, and NSW Swifts reintroduced Lauren Moore, in for their injured captain Abbey McCulloch. Moore has a long history with the Swifts, having been a squad member in 2016 and a training partner in 2017 and 2018.
These decisions show that the coaches are putting faith in the combinations these training partners have already built with the team. This trust instils confidence and should make the adaption to the intensity of Super Netball much easier for the new players. It also means that the team doesn’t have to work hard to familiarise themselves with a new member or work on a new combination. These factors will make a big difference in the early rounds of the 2019 season.
Three clubs have now finalised their 2019 rosters: Queensland Firebirds, NSW Swifts and West Coast Fever. The Adelaide Thunderbirds and Collingwood Magpies have four places left, Giants and Sunshine Coast Lightning have three spots to fill and the Melbourne Vixens have room in their squad for one more midcourt player. However, they may opt to add another goaler given Mwai Kumwenda will be unable to take the court for most of the 2019 season.
Clubs have until September 25 to finalise their Super Netball rosters. In the meantime, look out for a weekly wrap-up of signings. You can also stay up-to-date via the 2019 and Beyond: SSN and ANZ Signings list.
Report: Katrina Nissen
Cover photo: Kirsten Daley