It must be a frightening thought for their opponents in Suncorp Super Netball that the 2018 version of the Giants looks to be even stronger than last year’s runners-up, as two important players returning from injury.
The biggest news is that captain Kim Green is back, after rupturing her ACL in the opening seconds of Round 5 last year. Defender Kristiana Manu’a is also in the team, having recovered from a ruptured achilles in pre-season that kept her out of last year’s squad altogether.
The Giants performed brilliantly in Green’s absence to make the 2017 Grand Final, but there’s no doubt she and Manu’a will both be welcomed back with open arms. They now boast such a strong all-round team, there are numerous combinations that can be used.
In the shooting circle, Jo Harten and Susan Pettitt, are both very experienced and in tremendous form as seen at the Commonwealth Games. At goal attack, Pettitt uses speed and netball smarts to beat her opponents, while Harten has great mobility and can shoot from any distance.
Toward the end of last season, Kristina Brice was used at GS to good effect, and it’s likely her height and size will be utilised again. Meanwhile, promising youngster Kiera Austin is also now in the mix after impressing at the World Youth Cup. It’s an embarrassment of riches.
Kim Green will be back in the familiar position of wing attack, no doubt firing in spectacular bullet passes to her shooters and just generally making the most of any attacking opportunity. Her skill and vision around the circle edge is a major advantage for the team and her combination with Serena Guthrie is sure to be excitement plus.
Guthrie is rightly regarded as one of the world’s finest players and she cemented that reputation on the Gold Coast. At centre, she combines attack and defence brilliantly. Expect to see her getting her hand in to deny the opposition with vital intercepts, just when they’re needed.
The combative Jamie-Lee Price holds down wing defence and can also play centre. Having already played several seasons at the elite level, it’s hard to believe Price is still only 22. Last year she was named player of the tournament at the World Youth Cup.
With just three specialist midcourters chosen, there’s scope for Austin or Pettitt to cover wing attack (as Pettitt did so capably last season), while Manu’a can play wing defence if required. Such is Manu’a’s versatility, she can play all three defensive positions, but in this team, she is no certainty to get a starting position in any of them.
It’s easy to forget now that experienced defender Bec Bulley was only a late inclusion in the Giants last year after Manu’a was ruled out. Coming out of retirement and now a mother, Bulley had an incredible season. What a bonus that signing proved to be.
Bulley is an unassuming defender. She simply goes about her business each match, shutting down her opposition and is consistently one of Giants’ best. Her combination with Sam Poolman became one of the surprise success stories of last season.
Poolman was a complete revelation. Her fitness levels were a stunning contrast with previous years and as a result, her effectiveness as a goal keeper was well up – with greater speed and mobility. She was almost certainly the most improved player of 2017.
There is seemingly no major weakness with this Giants team. Barring injury striking them again, they have a team which should go deep into the competition. A finals berth seems likely and a spot in the grand final is again a big possibility. Can they go one better this year and take out the Super Netball title?
2018 team list
Kim Green (c) WA/C
Kiera Austin GA/GS/WA
Kristina Brice GS
Bec Bulley GD/GK
Serena Guthrie C/WD
Jo Harten GS/GA
Kristiana Manu’a GD/WD/GK
Susan Pettitt GA/GS/WA
Sam Poolman GK
Jamie-Lee Price WD/C
Head coach: Julie Fitzgerald
Assistant coach: Tania Obst
Training partners: Taylah Davies, Georgia Marshall, Teigan O’Shannassy, Amy Parmenter
Cover image: Marcela Massey