Suncorp Super Netball’s 2019 season launch saw club captains gather for the final time before their rivalries regenerate.
The netball stars shared their thoughts on the upcoming season from balancing leadership roles, to working around the Netball World Cup, improving club culture and identifying the all-important X-factor.
Here’s what they said.
Laura Langman – Sunshine Coast Lightning
Netball legend Laura Langman re-enters the Lightning this year and is ready for the team to start fresh following back-to-back premierships.
“I think the attitude from the group or the perspective we’re taking as a group is it’s just business as usual,” Langman said.
“Last year was last year and as soon as we flipped into preseason this year, it’s a new chapter, a new story to write.”
Part of that new chapter is integrating Ugandan shooter Peace Proscovia and South African defender Phumza Maweni into the side.
“I think Noels [Noeline Taurua] and Kylee [Byrne] have done an outstanding job to bring their flavour into the Lightning. Obviously both are extremely athletic and at both ends of the court and there’s nothing like watching them rumble on a Tuesday and a Thursday against each other.”
“I feel like we’re real grafters with a splash of brilliance. Steph Wood is so creative, she’ll make me clap my game, it’s just so beautiful to watch. And then down the other end it’s like crouching tiger, hidden dragon there in our defence end. So I feel like we’re grafters but we do some really exciting stuff, it’s cool, it’s like get up off your chair stuff.”
Courtney Bruce – West Coast Fever
Meanwhile at the Fever camp, Courtney Bruce says that her team has been using the preseason to amend last year’s weaknesses.
“We saw bits that let us down last year and really stepped up in terms of our conditioning, our ability to put ball in under pressure so we’ve just clicked a few things that will hopefully help us coming into the season,” Bruce said.
The Fever played just two of their eight preseason games at home which Bruce believes is part of preparing the team for the regular season.
“We’re just trying to get out there and challenge ourselves at different times, at different venues and testing our combos out there so we definitely seeked a lot more match play this preseason.”
“We have ten players and are going to have a really exciting defensive end. We can bring Olivia Lewis on and push me and Stacey Francis all the way up and get a really tall defensive unit. We’ve also got that variety in goal attack now, and Kaylia [Stanton] is a really unorthodox goal attack – a left hander which makes it really hard to defend and Alice [Teague-Neeld] just moves the ball so fluidly. I think the fact that we have ten pure players that can get out there at any moment and have an impact and be able come on and off is our X-factor.”
Kim Green – GIANTS Netball
Kim Green is two games away from playing her 200th national league game but is eager to learn more as a leader.
“I think each year you get tested as a leader and that’s how you want it to go,” Green said.
“[Now] it’s a different way of leading, it’s a more nurturing way of leading. And I’ve been under the likes of Liz Ellis and Cath Cox who are such fantastic leaders, but it is a little bit more of a nurturing role as the young ones come through.”
Green is also excited to share the court with Diamonds captain Caitlin Bassett and applauds her growth in leadership and talent.
“The  World Cup was the last time we played together in Sydney and her leadership skills have just developed so much,” Green said.
“The impact that she’s having off the court with a lot of our players and the stuff that she’s bringing on the court is really special – something that I haven’t seen from her before.”
“I believe Caitlin Bassett is the most valuable player in the world, I feel as though she wins huge games, she steps up in huge games.”
“She’ll do everything in her might to make sure that she is the best that she can be.”
“We’ve got a pretty epic shooting end, regardless of who’s on there, we’ve got three different players than can impact completely differently. We have a fiery midcourt, which I always love the physicality and then our defence end is a little bit unknown. So I feel like there’s going to be a few surprises all over the court.”
Gabi Simpson – Queensland Firebirds
In the lead up to the Netball World Cup, Gabi Simpson is anticipating one of the biggest Suncorp Super Netball seasons to date.
“I think a World Cup year is very exciting, it really makes sure the competition gets fiercer,” Simpson said.
“Because you have every player fighting for positions, every player wants to be in their peak for World Cup and it’s just a really exciting time.”
For Simpson in particular, there’s an extra card leaning in her favour, with the Firebirds having won the domestic title in each of the last two world cup years.
“If it means we’ll win it just because it’s a World Cup year, I’ll take that,” Simpson said.
“I think our X-factor is the exciting athleticism of our attack end but also the youth and the growth that we have in our defence end. I think we’ll find with our young players that every game there’ll be improvement and that’s going to be an X-factor in itself.”
Kate Moloney – Melbourne Vixens
Kate Moloney is loving her new Diamonds teammate Caitlin Thwaites who she believes is the perfect fit for their established unit.
“For two years we’ve had a pretty much unchanged lineup,” Moloney said.
“But I think the great thing about us this year is we’ve brought three fresh faces in and I think what they’ve added to that group is invaluable. The likes of Caitlin Thwaites who is a world-class player — she’s given so much and already adding so much to our team.”
The Vixens played the most preseason matches of any team but Moloney is confident they’ll enter the season firing.
“The more you can play, the more you can get out on court, the better I believe. There’s absolutely no feelings of burnout within our group,” Moloney said.
“I really believe that in the seven years that I’ve been there that I haven’t seen depth and evenness among our team like I do this year … You need players that can play different positions and we’ve got that, and I think that’s going to really help us.”
Maddy Proud – New South Wales Swifts
World Cup strategies are on the mind of new skipper Maddy Proud, who’s keen to use the mid-season break to rejuvenate the young side.
After a poor finish last year, Proud believes the World Cup timing will help the team maintain consistency and focus throughout the whole season.
“There is that four-week break in the middle of the season which I think some people were worried about,” Proud said.
“For us it might actually work to our advantage to be able to have that time to reset and then come out in that second half of the season firing to go.”
Proud’s side is ready to start 2019 as experienced campaigners with no excuses for a poor finish.
“The last couple of years we’ve maybe hid under that fact that we are this young and inexperienced team but this year it’s a whole new, different mentality,” Proud said.
“We want to win and that’s all we want to do and that’s what our mentality has been this whole year. We don’t train this much to come sixth like we have the last couple of years so for us it’s a non-negotiable to make finals and to take it all the way this year.”
“We live together, we hang out together, we are each other’s family … We do have that bond … That kind of relationship and that connection is something we’re really wanting to take onto the court and show that we can’t be broken – that bond that we do have is unlike anybody else so that’s what we’re going to bring into season 2019.”
Geva Mentor (co-captain) – Magpies Netball
New Magpies recruit Geva Mentor has no problem sharing the captaincy role with Madi Browne, believing they’ll be able to complement each other’s leadership styles.
“We balance each other out nicely,” Mentor said.
“We’re both very organised, we both see the game and individuals in a different light which I think is important about bringing that holistic approach but also that professionalism as well.”
Mentor said this year the club developed a strong focus on community and are keen to take the humble approach to building a fanbase.
“It’s not all about winning flags it’s about giving back and leaving a legacy and I think that’s what we’ve tried to take across into netball,” Mentor said.
“Particularly over this last preseason for us it’s about embracing what we’re doing, who we are as individuals, getting out in the community, showing that there’s more than one pathway, [it’s] not just the Vixens in Victoria.”
“I’m going go with a different direction an I’m going to for our coach, Rob Wright. He’s the only male coach that’s in the league, he’s a very unique individual but he also brings a wealth of netball knowledge so I’m going to say Rob Wright is our X-factor at the Collingwood Magpies.”
Layla Guscoth (co-captain) – Adelaide Thunderbirds
Set to share captaincy with English teammate Chelsea Pitman, Layla Guscoth is ready to lead the Thunderbirds in a new direction, following a reset of club culture.
The qualified doctor worked alongside her teammates and an external source who led leadership management and cultural values sessions for the group.
“Through that we’ve come up with our own culture, our own values and the things we want to live by in the team,” Guscoth said.
“Then from quite an early stage Tanya [Obst] and the coaching team instilled in us their vision for this year and we want to compete, and we definitely want to win the league.”
“I do think it is our diversity in the team. I know we do have quite a number of imports … but I think when you look at the Jamaican flavour that we’ve got in Shamera [Sterling] and her stunning intercepts and then we look at the long-range shooting of our Kiwi players and then that raw Australian man-on-man grit I think we’ve got quite a lot of versatility … We’ve got a good squad of 10 that can all take to the court and do something different.”
The 2019 Suncorp Super Netball season kicks off at Melbourne Arena on Saturday 27th April with a double header between the Vixens and Firebirds at 3pm (AEST), and Magpies and Lightning at 5.30pm (AEST).