Suncorp Super Netball

Recruiting Report Card – Swifts and Firebirds

Header Image Getty Images

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 NSW Swifts and QLD Firebirds, the Netball Post review how teams have fared this signing season, and what the 2022 season looks like for the Suncorp Super Netball.

NSW Swifts

Ins: Maddy Proud, Paige Hadley, Sarah Klau, Maddy Turner, Sam Wallace, Helen Housby, Tayla Fraser, Teigan O’Shannassy (Elevated Training Partner), Allie Smith (Melbourne Vixens), Kelly Singleton (Elevated Training Partner).

Outs: Sophie Garbin (Collingwood Magpies), Nat Haythornthwaite (Manchester Thunder, VNSL), Lauren Moore (GIANTS Netball).

Best Get

Swifts have managed to retain their whole starting seven from their 2021 Premiership side, but the bench has been completely cleared out with all players relocating in search of extra court time. While Swifts had a strong 2021 season, WD was the position where the struggled to find the right fit, which is where new recruit Allie Smith, from Melbourne Vixens, fits in perfectly. A Premiership Player in 2020 (as an elevated training partner), she was elevated to a senior contract with the Vixens in 2021 and played in all 14 of their games. A dogged defender, with the ability to grind down her opposition while also peeling off her player to pull in intercepts she will strengthen the Swifts defensive end, which might free up Tayla Fraser to spend more time in the attacking end.

Surprise Move

Any player leaving the Swifts is always a surprise, because they’re known for their tight-knit culture and love for the club. Seeing Lauren Moore make the move to GIANTS Netball then, took some people by surprise. While she has been used as more of an impact player for the last few years, her ability to cover all three defensive positions is invaluable with squads of 10. She has been a part of the Swifts High Performance Environment for years, with her first senior contract in 2016, followed by two years as a training partner before being re-elevated in 2019. She was offered a contract with Swifts, but opted not to take it instead moving to cross-town rivals GIANTS Netball in the search of more court time, which she is likely to get due to the departure of both Sam Poolman and Kristiana Manu’a.

What’s Missing?

Considering in previous years Swifts have been renowned for their bench depth, and ability to rotate seamlessly through their bench, this is something they may struggle with in 2022.

Experience isn’t something that is easy to come by, and Swifts have shown confidence in their pathway athletes, elevating training partners Kelly Singleton and Teigan O’Shannassy rather than looking further afield. While their starting seven well and truly has the capability to beat any team, should changes be required, they may potentially not work as smoothly as they previously have. That will come with time however, and getting experience for these young players will set Swifts up for another strong few years.

Predicted Starting Seven

Queensland Firebirds

Ins: Kim Ravaillion, Lara Dunkley, Kim Jenner, Gabi Simpson, Romelda Aiken, Mia Stower (Elevated Training Partner), Ruby Bakewell-Doran (Elevated Training Partner), Gretel Bueta, Jemma Mi Mi, Eboni Usoro-Brown (Team Bath, VNSL).

Outs: Tippah Dwan (Adelaide Thunderbirds), Rudi Ellis (West Coast Fever), Tara Hinchliffe (Sunshine Coast Lightning).

Best Get

Firebirds were left scrambling after their two options at GK, Tara Hinchliffe and Rudi Ellis, took up contracts elsewhere for the 2022 season. With a lack of Australian Netball League for the last two years, there has been limited opportunity to scout young talent as well as have it develop.

In what was the last announcement for the 2022 Signing Period, they revealed they had recruited English Rose & 2018 Commonwealth Gold Medallist, Eboni Usoro-Brown who has previously played for Team Bath in the VNSL. Usoro-Brown is not stranger to Australian competition, having previously played with West Coast Fever and Adelaide Thunderbirds during the now defunct ANZ Championship. She will also add some experience to the Firebirds defensive end, and act as a great mentor for her fellow defenders.

Surprise Move

Tara Hinchliffe leaving the Firebirds seemed to surprise them as much as it did netball fans, with Hinchliffe declining to take up a contract with them, in favour of a move up the Bruce Highway to Sunshine Coast Lightning. She has been a regular feature in the purple dress since her break out season in 2017, and she had the opportunity to learn from the likes of Laura Geitz. While the ACL injury she suffered at the end of the 2021 season means she is likely to only make a return mid-season, she is still incredibly young and will no doubt to continue to grow in her new colours.

What’s Missing?

While this onus doesn’t rely solely on the Firebirds, it needs to be addressed as part of the contracting period. There is still only one Indigenous player contracted in SSN, Jemma Mi Mi. Her signing was announced extremely late into the contracting period, which had many speculating whether or not she would be returning. There are currently two Indigenous Training Partners associated with SSN teams, Donnell Wallam (West Coast Fever) and Gabby Coffey (Melbourne Vixens) but the lack of representation across the board shows how little support they have through the pathway that could then enable to them to reach the pinnacle of netball. It’s something Netball Australia and individual State Organisations need to be having a serious look at if it’s something they genuinely want to change.

Predicted Starting Seven

Stay tuned to our socials for the final instalment, Sunshine Coast Lightning and West Coast Fever.

Leave a Reply