Suncorp Super Netball

Recruiting Report Card – GIANTS and Vixens

Header Image GIANTS Netball

It’s been a chaotic few weeks with the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) signing period keeping many fans on their toes; from retirements, interstate transfers and international moves to the players that remain at their beloved clubs. Moving on to GIANTS Netball and Melbourne Vixens, the Netball Post review how teams have fared this signing season, and what the 2022 season looks like for the Suncorp Super Netball.

GIANTS Netball

Ins: Jamie-Lee Price, April Brandley, Sophie Dwyer, Matilda McDonell, Jo Harten, Amy Parmenter, Maddie Hay, Lauren Moore (NSW Swifts), Matisse Letherbarrow (Elevated Training Partner), Amy Sligar (Elevated Training Partner).

Outs: Kristiana Manu’a (Central Pulse, ANZ Premiership), Kiera Austin (Melbourne Vixens), Annie Miller (elevated to Sunshine Coast Lightning Senior Contract), Sam Poolman (Retirement).

Best Get

GIANTS had a significant exodus of players at the end of 2021, opening the door for some new talent to be elevated and some crosstown recruiting, with former Premiership Swift Lauren Moore making the move from the red to the orange dress. A strong defender who can play all three positions, Moore has spent the majority of her recent court time at WD, which is her least preferred of the three. Given the departure of both Kristiana Manu’a and Sam Poolman this opens up a place at GK, for which she’ll be competing against Matilda McDonell. Both are 184cm and are known for their flare and personality both on and off the court, expect a tough battle for the starting spot and some rotation through the season to confuse opposition attackers.

Surprise Move

One of the first announcements across the league was the retirement of foundational GIANT Sam Poolman. Their starting GK since the beginning of SSN, she had a phenomenal season in 2021, including potentially the performance of the year against Jhaniele Fowler in the preliminary final. In interviews since the announcement, Poolman mentions she knew at the start of the year it would be her final one, but kept it to herself until seasons end reflecting the team player she is.

An honourable mention also goes to the departure of Kristiana Manu’a to Central Pulse in the ANZ Premiership and Kiera Austin to Melbourne Vixens. Austin in particular, would’ve known her capacity for consistent court time given the break out year of Sophie Dwyer in 2021 would be limited, so opted to take up a presumably starting spot in Melbourne, while also building a combination with Diamonds Mid-Courters Kate Moloney and Liz Watson.

What’s Missing?

With the growing height of goal shooters across the league, GIANTS are missing some serious height in the defensive circle. April Brandley is their tallest circle defender at 185cm, just one centimetre taller than Lauren Moore and Matilda McDonell, who are likely to share to GK role. While height isn’t everything when taking on a tall player, it certainly helps. Moore and McDonell are known for their elevation and ability to hunt an intercept outside the circle but their ability to battle against the tall Jamaican’s will be put to the test next year.

GIANTS are also missing a second tried and true option at WA, having lost Kiera Austin. Her place on the list was filled by Amy Sligar, who is traditionally WD/C. While Maddie Hay rarely needs to be switched out, should the situation arise having three WD/C in the midcourt could become problematic.

Predicted Starting Seven

Melbourne Vixens

Ins: Kate Moloney, Liz Watson, Jo Weston, Emily Mannix, Rahni Samason (Elevated Training Partner), Hannah Mundy (Elevated Training Partner), Kiera Austin (GIANTS Netball), Kate Eddy, Mwai Kumwenda, Olivia Lewis (West Coast Fever).

Outs: Kaylia Stanton, Ruby Barkmeyer, Allie Smith (NSW Swifts), Kadie-Ann Dehaney (Sunshine Coast Lightning).

Best Get

The Melbourne Vixens really worked hard in their recruiting for 2022, clearly not wanting a repeat of their Wooden Spoon performance in season 2021. GA was clearly a problem position for the side, with neither Kaylia Stanton nor Ruby Barkmeyer able to dominate the position.

To address this, they’ve managed to lock in recent Diamonds debutante Kiera Austin, and impressive training partner Rahni Samason. Both have the capacity to work alongside Mwai Kumwenda, while also having the confidence to put up shots themselves. With the return date of Austin from her ACL injury unclear, having a strong back up in Samason will go a long way in allowing them to start the season strong.

Surprise Move

While not necessarily a surprise that she left the Vixens, Kadie-Ann Dehaney’s move north to Sunshine Coast Lightning was one that well and truly shocked the netball community, with many pegging her to head to Queensland Firebirds. Dehaney has been getting increased court time each year with Vixens, particularly as Emily Mannix continues to battle injuries. She is well and truly ready for a starting role, and the move up north will allow her to do this, considering their alternate GK, Tara Hinchliffe, is recovering from an ACL injury and unlikely to be ready for the season to begin.

What’s Missing?

Wracking our brains for hours it was a struggle to find a chink in the armour of the Vixen’s squad for 2022. They have two or three options for all their positions, and players who can mix up their game style as needed. Provided Liz Watson and Kiera Austin have timely returns from their injuries it’s hard to see Vixen’s finishing any lower than top two next year.

Their one let down could be a lack of time together in pre-season. With a strong contingent of their squad Diamonds representatives, this has the potential to take them out of the pre-season environment should the Quad Series occur early next year. Two players continuing to rehabilitate injuries also depletes the stocks for pre-season, so while they may struggle in the early rounds of Season 2022, expect to see them come storming home and into finals.

Predicted Starting Seven

Stay tuned to our socials for the next instalment, deconstructing classic rivals NSW Swifts and QLD Firebirds.

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