International Netball Sports

The Sunshine Coast Lightning: Expectations for 2020

Who is the Sunshine Coast Lightning?

The Sunshine Coast Lightning is an Australian netball team in Sunshine Coast, Queensland. It competes in the Premier Domestic League organised by the Suncorp Super Netball. The team was formed in 2016 as the second Queensland-based side, during the disbanding of the ANZ Championship.

Team members

Laura Langman, Karla Pretorius, Steph Wood, Laura Scherian, Peace Proscovia, Phumza Maweni, Maddy McAuliffe, Cara Koenen, Jacqui Russell, and Annika Lee-Jones.

Central players to the team

Laura Langman 

The Silver Ferns captain happens to be one of the best mid-courters in the netball. She is a lynchpin for Lightning who effortlessly slips into defensive and attacking forms of play. Ever since her return to the Club, she hasn’t missed a beat. She surpassed 200 National league games in the 6th round against the team Vixens in 2019. She joined the former coach, Noeline Taurua, to bring back the Gold Medal for Silver Ferns in 2019 Vitality Netball World Cup — her fourth World Cup Campaign.  Her read on the ball is simply outstanding, especially through the midcourt and picking a hand intercept between the two.

Steph Wood

Wood has a strong footing in the goal circle for Lightning. She has formed a strong on-court alliance with both Koenen and Proscovia. Her playing style in the third goal level is remarkable. She is one of the playmakers for the team. It’s not too often that she misses a goal.

Karla Pretorius

She is one of the best defenders of the competition. The way she reads the ball whenever it comes to Lightning’s defence is simply outstanding. Her game smarts are impeccable. She receives many countless intercepts as well as has a knack for doing the little things well. For example, creating a mismatch in the goal circle which forces the goalers to take up a long shot as she did in the dying minutes of the Round 13 clash against the Vixens.

The underdog

We should definitely watch out for Cara Koenen. Having been on the Lightning team for a few seasons now, she is all set to make her mark on the game through a winning partnership with both Wood and Proscovia. 

She surely will “shine bright like a diamond” this 2020 edition.

Last season’s report

After the crazy headstart in 2019,  The Sunshine lost against the Swifts in the Grand Finale 2019 Season. But the sun may shine again in 2020 for them as they are among the few teams who have managed to retain all their 10 players from the 2019 group.

New members have been welcomed into the team and naturally, it took the new recruits time to adjust but they had quite a strong season.

Laura Langman was welcomed back and brought with her, her spark and talent into the team’s mid-court. Lightning also saw new partnerships formed both in attacking and defence.

2020 season expectations

Having retained their players, Lightning can expect to go into the season stronger than other teams who might take some time to adjust with new partnerships. An advantage that could have them pick up where they left off last season.

When Laura Scherian spoke to the Sunshine Coast lightning media, she said, “It’s a bit strange not knowing who we are playing and when we are playing.”

“I think we are ready for whatever comes our way, no matter what it looks like — just being able to put our game out there is what is most important at the moment.”

Fans of Lightning will be sure to watch Karla Pretorius or Laura Langman take an intercept, or Steph Wood score a long-range shot next season.

International Netball Sports

Magpies Anticipating Strong Season With New, Young Line-Up

2019 was a superb year for the Collingwood Magpies, with the club fighting their way to the finals. However, similar to their 2017 season, they finished in the top four — this time, losing to the semi-final round against their cross-town rivals in the Vixens.

But the Magpies can expect an exciting season ahead with a string of new recruits joining the club.

A quick update on last season

The black and white were looking to secure a first-ever finals win, but 2019 was not their season despite winning 7 games and drawing 2.

Magpies co-captain Geva Mentor tells The Women’s Game, “I think definitely it was finding the groove towards the last couple of games of the regular season. We were trusting each other and trusting the processes we put in place.”

It has been an extremely good run to the finals, where Magpies were victorious in three matches against the Fever, Swifts, followed by the Vixens. Their winning streak was broken when they lost the first final against their crosstown rivals, the Vixens. 

For Mentor, the game against the Vixens was her favourite of the season. She shared that playing for Collingwood is something she enjoys and anticipates, especially against team rivals, Vixens while citing the last game of the regular season played at Melbourne arena.

She felt that “it all click[ed] together nicely” and added that the team played well, making it an exciting game where they tried to “get as many points as possible and win by a certain margin” to enter the finals, which the Magpies did.

The game that stood out to Mentor was against Swifts in Tasmania. The match took place without Collingwood’s coach who lost his mum several days prior. Mentor recalled, “We banded together…we’re just able to take our game to the next level and it was like everyone was just on-song and everyone was on the court for each other and it was an amazing feeling to be part of.”

Team members

Resigned members include Madi Browne, Kelsey Browne, Geva Mentor, Shimona Nelson, Gabi Sinclair, and Matilda Garrett.

In: Jodi-Ann Ward (Severn Stars English Super League), Melissa Bragg (Elevated from training partner), Julia Woolley (Geelong Cougars VNL), Molly Jovic (Melbourne Fury ANL/VNL) and  Kelly Altman* (Adelaide Thunderbirds)

Out: April Brandley (Pregnancy), Nat Medhurst (Pregnancy), Kim Ravaliion (Pregnancy), Ashleigh Brazil (ACL Injury) and Kimiora Poi* (Tacix ANZ)

*temporary replacement player

What to expect

The upcoming superstars of Magpies are none other than the newly recruited players. Hopefully, this will spice the thrill and excitement of their game.

In December, Collingwood visited New Zealand to compete in the Super Netball competition where the team were triumphant in the games and went on to win the Super Club championship. The competition, which hosted teams from both the New Zealand and England Leagues, gave the new recruits some experience on the court.

Mentor urged the crowd to give them as much support as “the good show” they intend to put on for the fans — “a really exciting brand of netball on the court”.

Alongside her team, she wanted to make sure the different playing styles within the team translates well together. That way, a really enthralling match will be delivered on the court.

Personally, Mentor is keen on the opportunity of “playing alongside Kelsey and Madi Browne”.

She mentioned the hurdles the team had to face losing Maddie to injury at the beginning of last year followed by Kelsey at year-end. With the new teammates, the Magpies will have to “click on court” and gel together in a short time before the next season begins.

The power of three

Madi Browne

Post-injury, she is all set to boost her performance in Collingwood’s midcourt based with her experience and star power. Without talented and experienced midcourt players like Kim Ravaliion and Ashleigh Brazil, Browne will be able to pick up where she left off.

Kelsey Browne

With her return to the court from ACL, Browne is expected to contribute speed to the midcourt, alongside her sister. Their presence will be threatening to defenders, forcing them to keep up with the pace of the game.

Geva Mentor

She is one of the best goalkeepers in the world, causing trouble for goalers from opposing teams. She was an integral player in Collingwood’s rise to the finals.

Watch out for

Nat Medhurst will be taking off this season because of her pregnancy and Gabby Sinclair will be looking to secure her position in the team. If her performance in 2019 is anything to go by, she has the potential of being a star goaler in the competition.

Having been with Collingwood for three years, Matilda Garret has displayed her skills and what she is capable of — 2020 could be Garret’s golden year to make the best of opportunities and her talent. 

Geva agreed. “I think it’s her time to almost shine and get some more court time or court opportunities in that way wing defence, goal defence positions and really just grow in confidence so I’m looking forward to seeing her, take the opportunity in both hands and really excel.”

International Netball Sports

2020 Super Netball & Constellations Cup is On; Quad Series is Off

2020 Constellation Cup and Super Netball confirmed

The constellation cup, contested by the Australian as well as the New Zealand national netball teams, is set to take place this year. The Suncorp Super Netball (also known non-commercially as the National Netball League) — the premier professional netball league in Australia — is also confirmed.

The constellation cup is awarded to the team who wins the maximum number of matches between the two is awarded the constellation cup. It does not include the games that are played as a part of the Netball World Championships and Commonwealth Games (CWG).

The original start for 2020 Super Netball was 2 May but the season was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic. This season will instead start on 1 August 2020.  The complete list of fixtures has not been released yet but the 8 teams in the league can look forward to the full set of 60 matches being played.

After the regular domestic season, the Constellation Cup will also be held. Since 2010, the four-match series between Australian Diamonds and Silver Ferns has taken place every year.

Should travel restrictions be lifted depending on the COVID-19 situation, both Netball Australia and Netball New Zealand will start off the series in late 2020. The dates are yet to be confirmed.

Currently, the ANZ Premier, New Zealand’s domestic competition will restart its operations on 19 June this year and is expected to end with a Finals Series on 23 August 2020.

However the Quad Series did not survive this year. Confirmed by Netball Australia, the series, which has been played since 2016 between Australia, New Zealand, England, and South Africa, has been cancelled. The four nations promise to offer their commitment to pin down a date for the next Quad Series.

Netball Australia Executive General Manager of Performance, Stacey West shared, “With great disappointment, and after much deliberation and possible scenario planning, all four participating nations agreed that cancelling the 2020 Quad Series scheduled for September was the most viable option.”

Though the cancellation of the Quad Series leaves Netball Australia with great dismay, Suncorp Super Netball’s CEO Chris Symington is hopeful that the domestic Australian season would return with thrill and excitement. 

He is filled with enthusiasm and believes that since the season start date has been locked away, all stakeholders have a date to work towards. The fans can also look forward to the start of the season.

“Our guiding principles throughout this process have never changed, which includes not just the health and well being of the community but the financial viability of our sport. There has been a collective commitment to those principles from each and every member belonging to the system be it, players, teams, partners and broadcasters. We will continue to take this approach as we look to get our season underway,” he added.

Symington further expressed his gratitude to the devoted fans and members who have stuck through thick and thin with their respective teams through challenging times.

International Netball Sports

After Last Season’s Win, Swifts Are Ready To Start New Season Strong

After the spectacular end to the last season, NSW Swifts will be looking for straight wins when the league resumes its operation after the break. 

The team

Re-signed members include Sam Wallace, Maddy Proud, Helen Housby, Maddy Turner, Sarah Klau, Lauren Moore, Nat Haythornthwaite, Sam Wallace, and Paige Hadle. From training partner,  Sophie Craig has been elevated and will be part of the season. Kate Eddy (Melbourne Vixens) and Katrina Rore (New Zealand) are out, with the latter being a temporary replacement player.

Last season results

The Swifts had given a great performance and emerged as champions in their first premiership since 2008. The road to winning has not been an easy one for them. Their start was great but it came to a halt when the Swifts lost their captain Maddy Proud in an ACL injury during a match against the Firebirds, followed by young defender Kate Eddy.

However, as a replacement, they managed to get a very experienced player on board, Silver Ferns Katrina Rore.

Looking forward

Maddy Proud will be making a return from her injury. She was not able to be a part of last year’s winning team, but adding Proud to the midcourt, it will not be an easy team to beat.

The fans can prepare themselves to see a strong Swifts lineup in 2020 after the string of injuries last season.

Integral players

The England Rose Goaler “Helen Housby” is a game-changer. She showed off her skills exceptionally well in the 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medal match, scoring the winning goal for England.

Her long-range shooting capacity is capable of turning any game. She is a threat in the circle and is a good reader of the game.

One of the most consistent midcourters in the game series is Paige Hadley. Her goal-circle deliveries are simply outstanding and the way she connects defenders and attackers between plays is worthy of applause. 

Sarah Klau has performed extremely well in the last season and at 2020 Netball World Cup, she will be joining the Australia Diamonds.

Klau combined with Maddy Turner, works as a great pair and leave shooters in distress. The best of Klau is yet to come as she is one of the rising defenders in this competition.

Keep an eye out for this player

Sophie Craig is one to watch. This season will be her first playing as a permanent listed player for the Swifts. She has the ability to play anywhere in midcourt.

With Kate Eddy being injured, Craig carries the potential to play that now empty position well.  Craig had been a replacement player in the last season. She played a part in the 2019 premiership and won also over the Sunshine Coast Lightning.

Craig’s future appears bright and she shared with Swifts Media her thoughts on making it to the senior list.

“It’s a dream come true. Hopefully, I can get on the court and perform and go back to back.”

International Netball Sports

Two-Point Super Shot Rule Change Met With Surprise

For the 2020 season, Super Netball will introduce a controversial yet spectacular two-point super shot in the scoring system. This announcement took place just a month before the start of the delayed COVID-19 season, leaving not-so-positive reactions.

This new scoring opportunity will be executed in Australia’s top-level league where players shooting from a 1.9-meter zone on the outside periphery of the goal circle earns double points for a goal.

Players were given a chance to test out the new rule during a seven-a-side bushfire relief match in early March and in the past years in fast-five netball.

As per the reports from Super Netball, it will “blend the traditional game with the new”. It appears that this way, the game will be even more thrilling and perhaps produce unexpected twists, especially in the final five minutes of each quarter when the rule kicks in.

“With the ever-growing competition for the attention of fans, the time is right to introduce an innovation that will make the game even more dynamic and unpredictable,” said Super Netball CEO Chris Symington.

He added that the statistics from previous seasons of the Suncorp Super Netball suggests that most of the goals were scored with a 3-meter range of the goal post.

“We know that the long shot is statistically more challenging, but the game has always been predicated on the ability for our shooters to score from anywhere in the circle.”

But some were not pleased with the move. For the competition committee, whose duty included providing suggestions regarding the game to the governing body, did not know about the move to implement Super Shot until moments before Super Netball made its announcement.

Other additions to the netball rules have already been accepted, namely rolling substitutions kicking off next season and the addition of five minutes of extra-time for matches ending in a tie.

The season’s opening is predicted to take place on 1 August, which raised questions about the timing of the changes. The roasters have already been laid out and teams which do not have long-range shooters may be disadvantaged.

Simone McKinnis, Vixens head coach, said, “I was shocked … I know it’s something that’s been talked about for a while, but for it to be announced right now, it’s really come a bit out of the blue. Generally, I’m not a fan of it [these types of rule changes] but if that’s the decision that’s been made then we just get on with it.”

Syminton believes the Super Shot combined with the previously introduced rolling substitutions will showcase the world level skills of Australia’s athletes and create an  excitement that is on another level.

Fixtures for the 2020 season will be confirmed in the coming weeks.