Suncorp Super Netball 2020 Team Previews

Suncorp Super Netball 2020 Team Previews

By |2020-07-30T11:46:33+10:00July 30th, 2020|Categories: AUS, Opinion|0 Comments

After the longest preseason in history, Suncorp Super Netball will finally start this weekend in Queensland, with all of the games in New South Wales moved up north in the last 24 hours. The COVID-19 affected season, initially meant to start in May, has chopped and changed in length and location, but it will go ahead this weekend.

With that in mind, we’ve asked a few of our writers to preview all the Suncorp Super Netball teams this season. They have each highlighted, who to look out for, how the new rule changes will affect each team in 2020 and some predictions for the season ahead.

With the constantly changing environment, we’ve done our best to put together the most up-to-date team lists we can. Based on announcements from the last couple of days and team websites, game day squads of 12 are included for teams that have announced them (Collingwood Magpies, Queensland Firebirds and West Coast Fever), while other teams have been based on the most recent information from their websites. There could be announcements to come, depending on how many training partners have been able to travel up with teams.

 

 

NSW Swifts 

 

The Swifts were premiers in 2019 and will be hard to beat with a mostly unchanged lineup. Image: Marcela Massey (2019 SSN Grand Final)

2019 placing: Premiers

Sophie Craig (nee Halpin) (C/WD)
Sophie Garbin (GS/GA)
Paige Hadley (C/WA/WD)
Natalie Haythornthwaite (WA/GA)
Helen Housby (GA/GS)
Sarah Klau (GK/GD)
Lauren Moore (GD/GK/WD)
Maddy Proud (C/WA)
Maddy Turner (GD/WD)
Samantha Wallace (GS/GA)

Out: Katrina Rore (temporary replacement player), Kayla Cullen (originally announced in 2020 squad – maternity)
Training partners: Elle Bennetts (C/WA), Olivia Coleman (GK/GD), Tayla Fraser (C/WA), Kelly Singleton (GA/GS)

Coach: Briony Akle
Captain: Maddy Proud

Preview by Drew Kennedy

The NSW Swifts overcame doubters and adversity to win the Super Netball championship in 2020,  with their captain Maddy Proud ruled out with an ACL during the 2019 season, they pulled their team together with excellent coaching to achieve greatness for the first time since 2008. They exemplified the “champion team” epithet, following their simple yet exquisite structures to the letter and dominating the Sunshine Coast in a one-sided grand final.

Key to their success was the dynamism of the centre court. Paige Hadley had a standout year which she needs to build upon in 2020 to continue the dynasty. The muscle-up power and clever clear timing of Maddy Turner and Sarah Klau will be a key again. Also, the reliable, cool anchor of Sam Wallace at the back in goals, combined with tenacity, midcourt defence, and unpredictable lethal pace of Helen Housby will need to be enhanced for the team with the target on their backs. Their toughest obstacle is replacing legend Katrina Rore in wing defence, who claimed three trophies in 2020 but has gone home to New Zealand. Sophie Craig has to fill those big shoes, as well as those of the versatile Kate Eddy.

Swifts have seen few changes in personnel, and they enjoy major adaptability throughout the court. Despite lesser exposure for the promising Lauren Moore in defence, they have real game-changers in other areas, particularly with Sophie Garbin and Natalie Haythornthwaite across the attacking line. They should feature in the finals series again in 2020.

 

 

Sunshine Coast Lightning

 

The Lightning will be a force to be reckoned with in 2020 with an unchanged lineup and a steady coaching transition. Image: May Bailey (Round 4, 2019)

2019 placing: 2nd

Cara Koenen (GS/GA)
Laura Langman (C/WD)
Annika Lee-Jones (GK/GD/GS)
Phumza Maweni (GK/GD)
Madeline McAuliffe (WD/C)
Karla Pretorius (GD/WD)
Peace Proscovia (GS)
Jacqui Russell (WA/WD/C)
Laura Scherian (WA/C)
Steph Wood (GA/WA)

Training Partners: Sienna Allen (GD/GK), Binnian Hunt (GA/GS), Annabelle Lawrie (GS/GA), Ashlee Unie (GD/WD)

Coach: Kylee Byrne
Captain: Laura Langman

Preview by Jenny Sinclair 

Once again the Sunshine Coast Lightning will be among the premiership favourites this year, and why not! They have a proven track record, a talent-laden roster, and home court advantage for much of the season, including any finals. 

The shooting circle has the luxury of three incredible talents in Peace Proscovia, Cara Koenen and Steph Wood. Koenen and Wood are both long range exponents, an advantage given the introduction of the two point rule this season. Although Wood has been under an injury cloud in recent months, rising star Koenen will push both her teammates for court time.

The defensive combination of South African duo Karla Pretorius and Phumza Maweni is the most formidable in the league. Their ability to either shut down opponents, or force turnovers through intercepts and deflections, is second to none. 

There are no midcourt weaknesses either. The world’s best centre, Laura Langman, is generally a class above her opponents, and has added attacking finesse to her already lethal defensive abilities. Laura Scherian made her Diamonds’ debut last year after an outstanding season at wing attack, while the underrated Madi McAuliffe and Jacqui Russell should rotate through wing defence.

The biggest question mark will be how incoming coach Kylee Byrne moulds her group. However, the Australian U21 coach and former assistant to Noeline Taurua has a strong track record, and the transition should be seamless. Lightning must once again be considered serious title contenders. 

 

 

 

Melbourne Vixens 

 

The Vixens boast a mostly unchanged squad and will look to go a step further in 2020. Image: Kirsten Daley (2019 minor semifinal).

2019 placing: 3rd

Kadie-Ann Dehaney (GK/GD)
Kate Eddy (WD/GD/GK)
Tayla Honey (WA/C/WD)
Mwai Kumwenda (GS)
Emily Mannix (GK/GD)
Kate Moloney (C/WA/WD)
Tegan Philip (GA/GS)
Caitlin Thwaites (GS/GA)
Liz Watson (WA/C)
Jo Weston (GD/GK)

Out: Lara Dunkley (Firebirds), Renae Ingles (retired)
In: Tayla Honey (named in 2019 squad until injury), Kate Eddy (NSW Swifts)

Training Partners: Ruby Barkmeyer (GA/GS), Jordan Cransberg (WA/C), Elle McDonald (C/WA), Sacha McDonald (GA/WA), Jacqui Newton (GD/GK), Allie Smith (GD/WD)

Coach: Simone McKinnis
Captains: Kate Moloney and Liz Watson

Preview by Jane Edwards

While the Vixens will spend long periods away from home quarantining and travelling together to participate in the 2020 season, their ability to draw on successful bonding and well-established processes may be their greatest strength as a team. Simone McKinnis was reappointed as Vixens coach for a two-year term in February, declaring ominously that she had “unfinished business” with the Vixens, and she will be intending to build on the longevity of her relationships with key players to improve on the Vixens’ third-placing in 2019.

There are only two personnel changes for the team. The choice of Kate Eddy to replace retiring Renae Ingles is indicative of the Vixens’ commitment to stability: although Eddy has played two seasons at the NSW Swifts, she is Vixens through-and-through, having come through the Victorian talent development systems and worked as a Vixens training partner in 2017. Midcourt player Tayla Honey has also re-signed to the Vixens in 2020, returning to the squad after recovering from a significant Achilles injury that kept her from taking the court in her 2019 debut season.

For the rest of the squad, the experienced trios of Emily Mannix, Jo Weston and Kadie-Ann Dehaney in defence, and Tegan Philip, Mwai Kumwenda and Caitlin Thwaites in the shooting circle with Kate Moloney and Liz Watson in the midcourt present formidable combinations of talent and expertise for opposing coaches to unravel.

Assistant Coach and shooting expert Sharelle McMahon gets to continue her work with the joyous moving circle, and Philip’s proven consistency as a long-range shooter will be a considerable asset when the super shot is invoked. The Vixens’ three world-class shooters will make merry with the rolling substitutions for 2020, and it may be this rule change that enables the Vixens to gain the most ground on their opponents.

 

 

Collingwood Magpies 

 

The Magpies team has changed significantly, but the presence of stalwarts like Mentor and the Browne sisters, they could be brilliant Image: Aliesha Vicars (Round 1, 2019)

2019 placing: 4th

Nyah Allen* (GS/GA)
Kelly Altmann (C/WA)
Melissa Bragg (WD/GD)
Kelsey Browne (WA/C)
Madi Browne (WA/C)
Matilda Garrett (WD/GD/GK)
Molly Jovic (WA/C)
Geva Mentor (GK)
Shimona Nelson (GS)
Emma Ryde* (GS/GA)
Gabi Sinclair (GA/GS)
Jodi-Ann Ward (GD/WD)
*Elevated to game day 12

Out: Ash Brazill (knee), April Brandley (maternity), Kim Ravaillion (maternity), Nat Medhurst (maternity)
In: Kelly Altmann (temporary replacement player for Kelsey Browne), Melissa Bragg (elevated from training partner), Molly Jovic (elevated from training partner as Brazill’s replacement), Jodi-Ann Ward (from Severn Stars in VNSL)

Captains: Madi Browne and Geva Mentor
Coach: Rob Wright

Preview by Cara Gledhill

After a raft of pregnancies and a devastating knee injury to Ash Brazill, the Magpies are not the star-studded outfit of previous years. Losing four internationally experienced players in Brazill, Kim Ravaillion, Nat Medhurst and April Brandley would be a struggle for any team. Yet the delay to the start of the season has been good news for the Browne sisters, who will look to take the court on the same team after both recovering from ACLs. 

The Magpies have defensive midcourt talent in spades despite the loss of Brazill, picking up Jamaican international and former Severn Star Jodi-Ann Ward and elevating talented youngster Mel Bragg to the ten. This, coupled with the extraordinary on-court leadership of Geva Mentor and Madi Browne makes the team an exciting, if slightly unknown, prospect.

Key to the lineup’s success will be the performance of Gabi Sinclair. Stepping into the shoes of Medhurst is not an easy task, but her previous appearances for the Magpies show she is more than up to the challenge. With the introduction of rolling subs and the super shot, Sinclair will be the go-to shooter to put up shots in the final five minutes of each quarter and we may see a rotation from the bench to bolster their scoring chances. 

 

 

GIANTS Netball

 

The Giants will look to go further in the 2020 season. Image: Danny Dalton (Round 8, 2019)

2019 placing: 5th

Kiera Austin (GA/WA)
Caitlin Bassett (GS)
Jo Harten (GS/GA)
Maddie Hay (WA/C/WD)
Kristiana Manu’a (GD/GK)
Matilda McDonell (GD/GK)
Teigan O’Shannassy (GK/GD)*
Amy Parmenter (WD/C)
Sam Poolman (GK/GD)
Jamie-Lee Price (C/WD)
*O’Shannassy will be out for a significant part of the season with glandular fever.

Out: Kim Green (retired)
In: Maddie Hay (elevated from training partner)

Training partners: Toni Anderson (GD/WD), Sophie Dwyer (GS/GA), Clare Iongi (GK/GD), Matisse Letherbarrow (GS/GA), Claire O’Brien (WA/C), Latika Tombs (C/WA)

Coach: Julie Fitzgerald
Captain: Jo Harten

Preview by Kate Cornish

For the first time since the inception of Suncorp Super Netball, the Giants will line up without their fearless leader and captain Kimberlee Green who retired at the end of the 2019 season. While it will be impossible for anyone to fill Green’s shoes, it does make way for youngster Maddie Hay to forge her own path. Hay, who has been a training partner since 2017, was offered a full time contract and is likely to share the wing attack position with Kiera Austin this season.

With the exception of Green and the elevation of Hay, the Giants 2020 line-up remains unchanged and they’ll have some work to do with their attacking combination if they are to be real contenders for finals this year. Their defensive combination of Sam Poolman, Kristiana Manu’a and Amy Parmenter, linked with Jamie-Lee Price through the middle delivered enough ball, but it was their attacking third that let them down last year. Caitlin Bassett was the signing of the season in 2019 but was unable to deliver the stand out performances she is known for. Suffering an injury in preseason last year, her time on the bench and diminished court time with her new team are possible reasons for her unusual lack of cohesion and timing. A seasoned professional we can expect her to step up her performance in orange this year.

The new two-goal super shot will see goalers Jo Harten and Austin in their element. Harten is an expert long range shooter, and with the introduction of rolling substitutions, Austin may join her in the circle for the last 5 minutes of every quarter to capitalise on extra points. It will be fascinating to watch how the most capped coach in the national league, Julie Fitzgerald (AM) works combinations to take advantage of the new rules implemented this season.

 

 

West Coast Fever 

 

The Fever will be hoping to bring back their winning ways in 2020. Image: Steve McLeod (2019, round 13)

2019 placing: 6th

Jess Anstiss (WD/C)
Sunday Aryang* (GD)
Courtney Bruce (GK/GD)
Verity Charles (C/WA)
Ingrid Colyer (WA)
Emma Cosh* (GA)
Shannon Eagland (GD/WD)
Jhaniele Fowler (GS)
Stacey Francis (GD)
Olivia Lewis (GK)
Kaylia Stanton (GS/GA)
Alice Teague-Neeld (GA/WA)
*Named in game day squad of 12

Training Partners: Courtney Kruta (C), Donnell Wallam (GS)

Coach: Stacey Marinkovich
Captain: Courtney Bruce

Preview by Jenny Sinclair 

West Coast Fever will be looking to improve after just two wins in 2019, but from where will it come? 

Their bookends Jhaniele Fowler and Courtney Bruce, together with goal defence Stacey Francis, are world class, but the international experience drops off there. Bruce missed a number of games through injury last year, and fans will be hoping the skipper remains injury free in 2020.

Neither Kaylia Stanton nor Alice Teague-Neeld have nailed down the goal attack position in 2019, although the latter was more comfortable putting up shots in the All Stars game than we’ve seen her previously. Teague-Neeld’s movement should give the Fever some much-needed drive into the circle, which they lacked at times last year.

Positioning of the midcourt remains an area of uncertainty for the Fever. They look to be at their best with Verity Charles in wing attack, given her connection with Fowler, and undoubted ability to look straight into the circle. However, Charles, Jess Anstiss and Ingrid Colyer lack height, making the midcourt vulnerable to strong hands over pressure in attack, and their defence a little more challenging in a game where millimetres count. Their speed is their biggest asset, and if the trio can use this to advantage while minimising errors, they will be hard to contend with. 

There are a range of options in defence; look to see Shannon Eagland and Olivia Lewis rotated through the back end as needed, alongside stalwarts Francis and Bruce.  

While Fever aren’t a team of individual champions, the old adage of a champion team being stronger is where their advantage lies. The well-drilled group have been together for a number of seasons now, and should be familiar with each other’s movement patterns and on-court structures. On their day, Fever can beat anyone.

 

 

Adelaide Thunderbirds

 

Chelsea Pitman and Hannah Petty will cocaptain the Thunderbirds in 2020. Image: Sue McKay (Round 13, 2019)

2019 placing: 7th

Sasha Glasgow (GS/GA)
Sam Gooden (GS/GA)
Layla Guscoth (WD/GD/GK)
Charlee Hodges (GA/GS)
Maisie Nankivell (C/WD/WA)
Hannah Petty (C/WA)
Chelsea Pitman (WA)
Lenize Potgieter (GS/GA)
Kate Shimmin (GD/GK)
Shamera Sterling (GK/GD)
Shadine van der Merwe (WD)

Out: Maria Folau (retired), Cody Lange (retired), Kelly Altmann (Collingwood Magpies)
In: Sam Gooden (Vixens & Magpies), Lenize Potgieter (from Firebirds), Charlee Hodges (replacement player for Glasgow)

Training Partners: Chelsea Blackman (GD/GK), Beth Cobden (WD), Georgie Horjus (WA/GA), Tayla Williams (C)

Captains: Hannah Petty and Chelsea Pitman
Coach: Tania Obst

Preview by Lexi Mitchell

After losing their most valuable player, Maria Folau, to retirement last year, the Thunderbirds patched the hole she left with a raft of capable and versatile shooters. In fact, the Thunderbirds boast versatility across the court where most of their line-up are comfortable in more than one position.

At first glance, Adelaide look to have opted for the 4-3-4 shooter to midcourt to defence ratio. But after digging deeper, players such as Layla Guscoth and South African Shadine Van Der Merwe straddle the transverse line as strong midcourt options in wing defence as well as goal defence. The pair are bolstered by ball magnet Shamera Sterling and Kate Shimmin who also offer flexibility in the defensive circle positions.

A huge positive for the Thunderbirds is that, unlike previous years, they retained the bulk of their line-up with some fresh faces in attack. All four shooters can play either position with the ever-reliable Lenize Potgieter likely to own the goal shooter bib, for now. The delayed start to the season allows Sasha Glasgow more time to recover from last year’s ACL injury. Charlee Hodges is currently listed as her replacement in the squad of 11 while we wait for an announcement on Glasgow’s return.

With so many options for her starting seven, the task for coach Tania Obst will be balancing the right combinations against her opposition. The team in pink could be a major threat this year given how they utilise the new rolling substitutions rule, with Obst able to rotate players on and off the bench into any sort of lethal combination.

 

 

Queensland Firebirds

 

The Firebirds have significant personnel changes in 2020. Image: Simon Leonard (2019, Round 3).

2019 placing: 8th

Romelda Aiken (GS/GK)
Mahalia Cassidy (WA/C)
Lara Dunkley (WA/C)
Tippah Dwan* (GA/GS)
Rudi Ellis (GK/GD)
Macy Gardner (C/WA)
Tara Hinchliffe (GK/GD)
Kim Jenner (GD/GK)
Jemma Mi Mi (WA/C/WD)
Gabi Simpson (WD)
Mia Stower* (GA/GS)
Ine-Mari Venter (GS/GA)
*Announced in game day squad of 12.

Out: Gretel Bueta (maternity), Caitlyn Nevins (retired), Laura Clemesha (retired) Lenize Potgieter (ÌThunderbirds).
In: Lara Dunkley (replacement player for Mahalia Cassidy), Macy Gardner (elevated from training partner), Tippah Dwan (replacement player for Gretel Bueta), Mia Stower (Queensland Fusion – announced in game day squad of 12)
Training Partners: Ruby Bakewell-Doran (GD/GK), Hulita Veve (WD)

Coach: Roselee Jencke
Captain: Gabi Simpson

Preview by Katrina Nissen

Many punters have pointed to the Firebirds’ defence-end as the area for improvement for the 2020 season. But in a surprise move, coach Roselee Jencke opted to fill the defence with more youth than experience. Enter: ANL premiership winning defender, Rudi Ellis. At 190cm, the 22-year-old will be one of the tallest goal keepers in the league and she also boasts an impressive vertical leap which will come in handy during the five minutes of each Super Shot. Ellis will be partnered with Kim Jenner and Tara Hinchliffe, who are both entering their third season with the Firebirds. The duo represented Australia during the 2018 Fast5 World Cup and showed flashes of brilliance last season. Both are also in the Australian Development Squad so, expect to see them improve even more as they compete for court time this season.

The biggest, albeit heart-warming, news to come out of the Firebirds’ camp recently, is the announcement of gun goal attack, Gretel Bueta (nee Tippett)’s pregnancy which will see her co-captain the team from the sidelines this season. This is a massive loss for a team which was already struggling for consistency. In her place the Firebirds have again opted for youth with the promotion of goal attack, Tippah Dwan. The up-and-comer is familiar to the Firebirds structures having been a training partner and squad member last season. Dwan also impressed during preseason matches, with her slick drives and confidence to go to post.

The silver lining in an uncertain season for the Firebirds, is that they unknowingly recruited their secret weapon over the off season. South African goal shooter, Ine-Mari Venter is a long-range specialist and will likely be injected for the last five minutes of each quarter to pile on the points for the Firebirds. Her coupling with Dwan should be exciting for fans. What the Firebirds are really lacking this season is experienced heads and cool leadership. They will also be needing someone in the attack end to spark the team with big plays. Without Bueta, the job will likely fall to Romelda Aiken to provide that inspiration. Or, will one of the new recruits be the phoenix who drags the team from the ashes of their 2019 season?

 

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