Five Takeaways from the Team Girls Cup

Five Takeaways from the Team Girls Cup

The third instalment of the Team Girls Cup has given Super Netball fans a small, but exciting, taste of what is to come when the 2023 season kicks off on March 18. 

With 28 games and almost 100 athletes taking to the court across the weekend, there was a lot of on and off-court action. We somehow managed to condense it into five key talking points. 


Inclusive uniforms

The Adelaide Thunderbirds were one of three teams who donned the inclusive uniforms over the weekend. Image: Marcela Massey

The Adelaide Thunderbirds were one of three teams who donned the inclusive uniforms over the weekend. Image: Marcela Massey

In a positive, heartwarming move for netball, three teams opted to wear inclusive uniforms across the weekend. Athletes from the Adelaide Thunderbirds, Queensland Firebirds and Sunshine Coast Lightning were able to choose their playing attire from a range of options including skorts, tights, bike shorts and loose-fitting shorts as well as their traditional dress. 

The move was well received by the playing group who stated they hoped that by seeing a variety of athletes play at the elite level in these uniforms, grassroots players would be inspired to stay in or join the sport. 



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The updated Netball Australia Uniform Guidelines came into effect in December 2022 and has included a policy which ‘outline recommendations for players and umpires at all levels of the game and provides the option to choose from a combination of uniform variations.’ The guideline leaves the door open for Suncorp Super Netball clubs and athletes to don a more diverse uniform in 2023, if the playing group chooses so. 

When asked if we will be seeing the inclusive uniforms again this season, many athletes said they hoped that if not this season, then sometime in the near future. 


The Injuries

Three Giants sat out the entire Team Girls Cup – Jo Harten (knee), Amy Parmenter (knee) and April Brandley (foot), while the Magpies Sophie Garbin (calf) and Molly Jovic (calf strain) were also noticeable absence. Nyah Allen also missed due to surgery late last year for a musculoskeletal chest condition which will keep her out for an unconfirmed period of time.

And, as expected in a back-to-back preseason tournament like this, there were also injuries sustained which kept athletes from participating further.


Experienced defender Geva Mentor sat out the majority of the Team Girls cup after sustaining a corky in the first match. Image: Marcela Massey

Experienced defender Geva Mentor sat out the majority of the Team Girls cup after sustaining a corky in the first match. Image: Marcela Massey

Geva Mentor (Magpies) – cork in game one

Kelsey Browne (Magpies) – whiplash in game one

Alice Teague-Neeld (Fever) – calf strain in game one

Helen Housby (Swifts) – calf strain in game two


Verity Simmons (Fever) and Tayla Williams (Thunderbirds) were also involved in a heavy collision during the first quarter of the grand final. Williams did play out the remainder of the game, while Simmon played on for most of the next quarter but then sat out. It is unclear whether her absence was due to an injury or load management. 

Maddy Proud (Swifts) also gets an honourable mention because we lost count of the number of times she hit the deck over the weekend. Good to see some things never change. 


Emerging Talent

Warming up for the Super Netball season proper, many clubs took the opportunity to get valuable experience into their training partners and emerging athletes. There was a swag of talent on show.

Charlie Bell for the Sunshine Coast Lightning holds against Swifts keeper, Sarah Klau. Image: Marcela Massey

Sunshine Coast goal shooter, Charlie Bell proved she is more than ready to stand tall against the world’s best defenders. Image: Marcela Massey

Sunshine Coast Lightning replacement player, Charlie Bell has already caught the eye of commentators, fans and selectors, who have all predicted that the 197cm athlete will be in the Diamonds’ program in a few years. Bell has an obvious height advantage over many defenders but also offers fluid movement and accurate shooting. 

Matisse Letherbarrow has been on the fringes for a few years but the Giants goal shooter seized the additional game time in the absence of Jo Harten over the weekend. The 20 year old was fearless, unphased and accurate in each appearance, which should have competitors taking notice. Across the weekend, she was one of the most accurate shooters from two point range (with Steph Wood being slightly more accurate albeit with a lesser volume of shots) and during their final match, Letherbarrow only conceded one penalty and one turnover while putting up 31 shots, stats which will surely make her coach happy. 

Another shooter who impressed is newly signed Thunderbird Lucy Austin. Many feared the youngster wouldn’t get game time behind established international talent Eleanor Cardwell. But they needn’t have worried as Austin has proven her value by combining well with the England Rose. Austin is another fearless young talent who offers movement and accuracy from range. But her holding game is also impressive with her strength and impeccable timing proving the difference. 

Jordan Cransberg is a name to remember. Image: Marcela Massey

Jordan Cransberg is a name to remember. Image: Marcela Massey

West Coast Fever training partners, Jordan and Zoe Cransberg are names to remember. The twins, who have recently moved from Victoria to Western Australia, are both nimble and versatile midcourters. They both have excellent court smarts and instincts and are dogged ball hunters with Jordan contributing four pickups and one intercept in Fever’s grand final win. 

Firebirds defender Remi Kamo proved that despite being part of a raw, new-look backline, she can still put doubt in feeder’s minds. At 180cm she is not the tallest defender, however she makes up for it with an impressive aerial game, great timing and tenacious game smarts. 


New Combos and Old Friends

An announcement which had fans across the country rejoicing is that of Nat Butler (nee Medhurst) rejoining the West Coast Fever. The 39-year old has signed on as a training partner for the 2023 season, after taking the last two seasons away from the court. When she ran out on Saturday morning and reconnected with former teammate Jhaniele Fowler, it was like taking a step back to 2018. While not quite like riding a bike (she likened the return to court as more of unicycle, than traditional bike), their connection was still evident with Butler finding Fowler under the post with ease. 

Karla Pretorius made a strong return to the Suncorp Super Netball court. Image: Marcela Massey

Karla Pretorius made a strong return to the Suncorp Super Netball court. Image: Marcela Massey

Lightning’s defence end is humming despite it being a relatively new combination. When Karla Pretorius went on maternity leave at the end of the 2021 season, it signaled the start of a new look defensive era for Lightning. Enter Tara Hinchliffe and Kadie-Ann Dehaney who used the 2022 season to cement their partnership. And now that Pretorius is back, along with newly signed Ash Ervin, they have a very mobile, very smart defensive unit. Across the weekend, Pretorius and Hinchliffe shared goal defence, and both had a stint or two at wing defence, giving the side extra height in front of the circle.

Pretorius took a little time to warm to the competition (she didn’t collect her first intercept until game two) but she proved her leadership and steady hands numerous times and didn’t give away a turnover until the third quarter of the last match.

Speaking of defence, in their last two matches of the tournament, the Firebirds backline of Gabi Simpson, Ruby Bakewell-Doran, and Remi Kamo showed a spark of what fans hope is to come. The trio collected 14 gains across the two matches and, perhaps more impressively, only gave away 22 penalties. For a side who, in the past were notorious for their penalty count, this is a positive sign.


Firebirds defenders, Remi Kamo and Ruby Bakewell-Doran showed a glimpse of what's to come against the Melbourne Vixens. Image: Marcela Massey

Firebirds defenders, Remi Kamo and Ruby Bakewell-Doran showed a glimpse of what’s to come against the Melbourne Vixens. Image: Marcela Massey


Adelaide Thunderbirds fans were eager to get their first glimpse of Eleanor Cardwell, and weren’t not disappointed. The versatile goal shooter/goal attack combined beautifully with each of her goaling partners and feeders and showed some of that range for which she is renowned. Over the weekend Cardwell played across both positions and proved she was comfortable, putting up shots from range, often demanding the ball in the Super Shot zone – finishing with 8/12 67% across the weekend.


Stat Chat

While it may be difficult to deduce where some teams sit after the Team Girls Cup, as always, there were some interesting stats to come from the event.

NSW Swifts registered 41, 42, 41 and 44 goals across their four matches – the most consistent return of any team.

Both the Giants and Adelaide Thunderbirds were the best performers across the Power Time – the final three minutes of each quarter – scoring 62 goals each across the 48 combined minutes.

Sunshine Coast Lightning conceded the least goals (47) during the Power Time, and the Queensland Firebirds the most with 66 goals, including 23 in their opening match against the Thunderbirds.

The Giants had the best and worst performing quarters – a high of 17 goals in the second quarter against the Firebirds, and just 3 goals in the third quarter in their loss to Adelaide.

Melbourne Vixens did not win an opening quarter in their four matches, while the Giants failed to win a final term.

West Coast Fever notched up 53 goals in their 10-goal win over the Magpies, equaling the events’ highest score set in 2019 by the Melbourne Vixens*.

Fever also won the most quarters out of all eight teams (nine), overtaking the Thunderbirds by winning the final quarter of the grand final and, ultimately, the title.

*N.B. The 2019 Team Girls Cup was not played with the Super Shot.

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About the Author:

Netball loon since discovering it wasn't as girly a sport as first thought. 20 years on, lives and breathes netball. Can even credit it with introducing me to my husband! Queensland Firebirds fan for life. I have a degree in Professional Writing and Publishing and work as a freelance writer when I am not writing for Scoop.
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