Now that the excitement of the 2018 Suncorp Super Netball season is over, it is time to turn our attention to the captivating movements of the contracting window for next year and beyond.
With all the retirements announced this year, this off-season is bound to be as enticing for fans as it was for the inaugural Suncorp Super Netball.
The Queensland Firebirds have announced their complete squad for next year, with a largely unchanged line-up. The one notable omission is Laura Geitz, who has retired from domestic netball, after hanging up her Diamonds dress a few months back. Tippah Dwan gets her first call-up to Super Netball as the newest Firebird, slotting in as their additional shooter.
So far Sunshine Coast Lightning, Melbourne Vixens, West Coast Fever and NSW Swifts have signed half or more of the squads, while four players have re-signed with the Adelaide Thunderbirds.
Fans were quick to notice two big names missing (at this stage) from the Lightning’s squad: Caitlin Bassett and captain Geva Mentor. Both players will no doubt be scrutinising offers from all over the country.
We do know that the Lightning will be looking to replace at least one player, as Erena Mikaere is returning home to be closer to her family and to play for the Northern Mystics in the ANZ Premiership. The Lightning will likely re-sign formerly-injured Sarahpheinna Woulf in Mikaere’s place.
The Vixens are looking strong for the 2019 season with seven of their 2018 players resigning. However, with Mwai Kumwenda being ruled out for the 2019 season with an ACL injury, will the Vixens give Emma Ryde a start or will they look for a more established shooter?
Giants has managed to retain their captain Kim Green and vice-captain Jo Harten – the latter signing a three-year deal with the club. But they have the biggest squad to rebuild after losing three of their starting seven and, most recently, Kristina Brice to the ANZ Premiership.
The West Coast Fever have started to release names of their 2019 squad. So far they have retained their midcourt ensemble of Verity Charles, Ingrid Colyer, Jess Anstiss and Shannon Eagland. Fever’s shot at featuring in the 2019-2021 grand finals is significantly bolstered by the resigning of linchpins Jhaniele Fowler and Courtney Bruce who have each signed a three-year contract with the club.
However their just-before-end-of-business-day dumping last night of Nat Medhurst will have many scratching their heads for weeks to come.
To date the only new import player to be joining Suncorp Super Netball is Jamaican defender Shamera Sterling, who has signed with the Thunderbirds. Leanna de Bruin has returned home to New Zealand to play for the Northern Stars in next year’s ANZ Premiership.
The Thunderbirds will also be looking to build a strong new shooting partnership after losing Charlee Hodges (also to the Northern Stars) and Cat Tuivaiti. Adelaide have opted to retain some South Australian flavour, with the re-signing of Sasha Glasgow and Hannah Petty. Both players have been with the club for the past two seasons and will be hoping to gain more court time next year.
The only team who has yet to make any announcements is Collingwood Magpies.
A major talking point during this contracting window has been Maria Folau (nee Tutaia), who has been granted permission from Netball New Zealand to play outside of the ANZ Premiership yet retain her eligibility to play for the Silver Ferns. There is speculation that Folau may sign with Giants or Lightning, given her family connections in both regions.
Rumours are also swirling about the possibility of Laura Langman re-joining the league. Netball New Zealand has granted the Silver Fern veteran another exemption to play outside of her home country. Will she be looking to reclaim her bib at the Sunshine Coast Lightning or will she choose to share her flare with another club?
Regardless of the offers which are undoubtedly being sent to Folau and Langman, there is no question that they must be strongly considering signing with the Lightning, given that Noeline Taurua was this week named the new Silver Ferns coach.
Clubs have until September 25 to finalise their 2019 rosters. Netball Scoop will provide a weekly wrap up of the movements and signings, so stay tuned because these next few weeks will be entertaining.
2019 Suncorp Super Netball teams at a glance (as at Saturday September 1)
Shamera Sterling (from Loughborough Lightning, Vitality Netball Superleague)
Leana de Bruin (to the Northern Stars, ANZ Premiership)
Charlee Hodges (to the Northern Stars, ANZ Premiership)
Erin Bell (retired)
Shae Brown (retired)
Sharni Layton (retired)
Bec Bulley (retired)
Susan Pettitt (retired)
Serena Guthrie (Team Bath, Vitality Superleague)
Kristina Brice (Northern Mystics, ANZ Premiership)
Jemma Mi Mi
Laura Geitz (retired)
Sunshine Coast Lightning
Erena Mikaere (to Northern Mystics, ANZ Premiership)
West Coast Fever