NS Exclusive: Dylan Nexhip – Beyond Infinity, Part I

NS Exclusive: Dylan Nexhip – Beyond Infinity, Part I

By |2024-05-01T11:19:17+10:00April 30th, 2024|Categories: AUS, Men's Netball|Tags: , , |1 Comment

In this two-part series with Ariane Virgona, Australian Kelpies captain Dylan Nexhip discusses what it really takes to play elite netball, his role as captain and coach, his leadership style, and how he works to expand the visibility of men’s netball.


Netball participation among boys and girls has hit record heights, with over one million people currently playing the sport in Australia. It is no surprise that this growth comes after a record-breaking couple of years for Australian netball, including the success of the Australian Men’s Netball Team, the Kelpies.

Led by captain Dylan Nexhip, men’s netball has been elevated to new levels, with the first nationally televised match in 2022 and wins in the 2022 and 2023 Trans-Tasman Series doubleheaders against New Zealand at the Constellation Cup.

“It’s been great with Fox and Kayo being able to broadcast our games live.

“We’ve had some messages after those games, things like, ‘My son is going to start playing netball; he can’t wait to get out there, and he loves watching you guys.’

“Being able to know that we’re playing the part and growing the sport is really fulfilling.”


But what does it take to get to and maintain such a high level of performance, especially for the men who cannot adopt netball in a full-time capacity?

For tournaments like the Trans-Tasman Series, the players are responsible for their own training sessions.

“We don’t get much access to each other, so we have to ensure we are disciplined back in our own states and environments.

“You are doing six sessions a week, whether that be strength and conditioning, footwork on the court, skills, or whatever it might be. You’re doing that in your own space, or you are connecting with people in your state to be able to do sessions with them.”

Dylan explains how the team was selected for the 2023 Trans-Tasman Series.

“After our national championships in April that year, a squad was selected. We had quite a large group; I think about 27 athletes were selected as part of the Kelpies squad.

“We went into a selection camp in August at the Australian Institute of Sport, which was new for our program. It was another step up. It was great to have everyone there, challenge each other, and push to get the best out of each other. From there, the team was selected.

“We had about 10 weeks back in our states where we had a specific program from our coaching staff to ensure we were still building our strength and conditioning, so we were prepared for competition.”


Tug of war against England. Image May Bailey | Clusterpix Sports Photography


In the lead-up, the Kelpies also collaborated with the Australian women’s team.

“What also worked in our favour was that we were able to connect with Diamonds, who were also on the Constellation Cup tour. For example, in NSW, I was able to do sessions with Sarah Klau, Paige Hadley, and Jamie-Lee Price, which really helped our preparation, and that happens in all the states, too.

“We were lucky that that was the second year we have been able to tour with the Diamonds. In 2022, we were a little bit starstruck getting to watch our idols and who we see on television in the same training environment as us.

“It is clear why they are world number one- they are so committed and focused. They have really built this amazing culture. We have learned so much from them about how they go about it and how they take pride in everything they do.

“They are so inclusive of us. They understand the challenge we give them on court, and how that helps them with their preparation. That stems from coaches Stacey (Marinkovich) and Nicole (Richardson), who are so open to the idea of working together and pushing each other for the betterment of our teams and our sport, too.”


Several new faces took the court in the recent Trans-Tasman Series, which Dylan attributes to the program’s depth and the athletes’ hard work. A priority is making sure these debutantes are recognised and celebrated.

“We just try to keep things as normal as possible while still trying to make it as special as possible for them.

“We make sure that everyone’s aware and we congratulate them and really make sure we’re getting behind them. So, just little check-ins to see how they’re feeling and make sure that we recognise the first time they come onto the court and what we can do to support them in that space.

“We try to make a big deal about it after the game to make sure that we celebrate that and all the little things, you know, get the photos and the high fives that really count to make it as memorable as possible.”

Watching the Kelpies has shown netball fans that they are not unlike the Australian Diamonds in their style of play.

“It’s obviously dependent as well on the structure of our team. You know, we don’t have a 6-foot-10 goal shooter. We’ve got mobile goal shooters, so you have to build your structure around that. We do try to use ball speed as a way to break down other teams and their systems.

“We do lots of work on that in our training environment – our footwork, and our execution of passes. We are lucky to have connections on the court that have been built over the last 10 years. So, people know each other’s games like the back of their hand. We can use that to our advantage as well, but defensively, our go-to is one-on-one, and we try to make sure that we’re really disciplined and wear teams into the ground and work together as units.

“And then in attack, it’s about ball speed but also having that control at the right times.”


Keeping it light when needed. Dravyn Lee-Tauroa and camera chatting to Riley Richardson and Dylan Nexhip (under the table). Image May Bailey I Clusterpix


After major tournaments, key areas for further development are identified in partnership with the national coach, Nerida Stewart.

“At the end of our tour, we all have meetings with the coach, and they give us specific things they want us to keep working on.

“As a defender, it’s always about my footwork and angles and ensuring that that’s as refined as possible.

“And defensively, your job is to get the ball. So, I think about how to put myself in the right position to contest and win more ball.”


Support is limited for the men in this expanding space, so many of the tours are self-funded. Balancing netball with full-time work can be challenging, but it can be achieved with organisation and utilising available support networks.

“It’s hard. There’s only a certain number of hours in the day, so you need to make sure you make each one count. At some stages of the year, you’re waking up at 4:30 am to go to the gym by 5:00 am, and then you’re at work by 7:00 am.  Then you work your day and could have something on again that night. But you know, as men netballers, we’ve made sacrifices, as many athletes have throughout their careers, and this is just something that we know and do, and you have to be on top of things.

“But we’re lucky to have people that support us as well…those friendships, being able to call on your mates when you need to support you and train together, and little things like that make a big difference.

“My workplace is so supportive of everything that I do. They’re really encouraging and have supported me in all my endeavours…. because that’s a challenge you have to navigate – getting time off work. For lots of people, they have to take leave with no pay to be able to compete in these events.”

Dylan also acknowledges that being focused on the end goal is essential to get you through the harder times.

“It’s those little challenges, but I think knowing what our goal is and knowing that we are going to step onto the court in green and gold and play in front of those crowds against an international team when times get tough.

“That is what you think about; that’s the motivation that you need to be able to push through.”


As much of the journey for men playing netball at the elite level is self-funded, a major sponsor would alleviate the financial pressure to allow athletes to focus on their preparation for optimal performance. However, Dylan pays homage to the efforts of the men who have forged this path to the success and visibility of men’s netball today.

“Our executives are working super hard in that space. They’ve formed a great relationship with Netball Australia and are continuing to build a strong foundation for us, not only for the Kelpies but our future athletes.

“We’re lucky to have men’s netball, as it started this journey back in the 70s and 80s. And we’re really the lucky ones now that get to play on the big stages, but we wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for them.

“We get to play on the big stages, but hopefully, all male netballers get to feel that when we step out there; this is for everyone, and we’re doing this together.”


In part two, Dylan discusses the opportunities which arose with captaincy. 

Dylan Nexhip going through the run sheet. Image May Bailey I Clusterpix

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  1. […] Read part one here. […]

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