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. Beginning with the Adelaide Thunderbirds and Collingwood Magpies, the Netball Post review how teams have fared this signing season, and what the 2022 season looks like for the Suncorp Super Netball.
Ins: Georgie Horjus, Matilda Garrett, Maisie Nankivell, Latanya Wilson, Shamera Sterling, Tippah Dwan (Queensland Firebirds), Elle McDonald, Hannah Petty, Lenize Potgieter, Tayla Williams (Elevated Training Partner).
Outs: Shadine van der Merwe (Manchester Thunder, VNSL), Sam Gooden (TBA).
Thunderbirds only made two changes to their side for 2022, the least they’ve made between seasons since the inception of SSN. Their biggest gain was the recruitment of a former Queensland Firebird, sharp shooter Tippah Dwan. A proven performer on the big stage, Dwan had a break out season in 2020 while Gretel Bueta was on maternity leave, though she was relegated to the role of impact player in 2021. A creative play maker, who is also confident in sinking a super shot, expect to see her challenge Thunderbirds incumbent GA Georgie Horjus for the starting position, while also providing the opportunity for a short, moving circle that could dominate the two point shot when needed. Hopefully Thunderbirds can manage their attacking rotations better in season 2022, as this year changes weren’t as effective as desired. If they’re able to iron out this aspect of their game, expect to see them climb from the bottom of the ladder, a spot that they’ve become accustomed to over the last few years.
After having arguably her best SSN season to date, the departure of Shadine Van de Merwe was the first announcement Thunderbirds made. While not explicitly stated whether she was released or she chose to seek opportunities elsewhere, fans are leaning towards the latter given Van de Merwe’s Instagram post following the announcement. She was one of their most consistent performers, collecting 13 intercepts and 20 deflections at WD while also shutting down some dominant attacking players. She was also voted Player’s Player, demonstrating the strong role she plays off-court for the club. While Thunderbirds still have plenty of depth in the WD position, losing the player who has dominated that position for three seasons will take them some time to adjust. If nothing else, at least netball fans still get to watch Van de Merwe on their screens, with her having taken up a contract with Manchester Thunder in the Vitality Netball Super League.
Thunderbirds have plenty of depth across the court, however the one area they have struggled with since the loss of Chelsea Pitman at the end of 2020 is an on court leader. Someone who is able to deliver consistent performances and lift those around her when the game is in the balance. Whether or not they’ve been able to recruit or develop a player with those qualities before season 2022 will be crucial to their success, and whether Head Coach, Tania Obst can finally start producing the level of success the Thunderbirds are looking for. Should they have another year as cellar dwellers on the ladder, perhaps a change in the Head Coach role could be on the horizon.
Predicted Starting Seven
Ins: Maggie Lind (Elevated Training Partner), Sophie Garbin (NSW Swifts), Geva Mentor, Ash Brazill, Kelsey Browne, Jodi-Ann Ward, Shimona Nelson, Molly Jovic, Gabrielle Sinclair and Jacqui Newton.
Outs: Kalifa McCollin (TBA), Mel Bragg (TBA).
Without a doubt one of the biggest shocks of the 2022 signing period was the move of Sophie Garbin from NSW Swifts to Collingwood, while many expected Garbin to explore her options having been caught behind Helen Housby and Sam Wallace at the Swifts, her move to a team with an established GS in Shimona Nelson was a surprise. While for Nelson, having a player to push her to improve will no doubt be of benefit, it will be a nervous wait to see if Garbin is able to get the time at GS she was looking for, especially given she is on the cusp of solidifying her position as a Diamonds Shooter. Expect to still see some of her at GA, as she offers a significantly different game to Gabby Sinclair, but it will be time at GS Garbin is hunting.
The Magpies midcourt is significantly favouring attacking players, with three of the four players signed having WA/C as their preferred positions and Ash Brazill being the only WD/C. This is a result of the surprise decision to not offer Mel Bragg a contract for the 2022 season, instead elevating training partner Maggie Lind for her first senior contract. Molly Jovic has spent some brief time at WD, but plays her best at C, and they also have the option to swing Jodi-Ann Ward there if needed and bring on Jacqui Newton to GD. While Brazill rarely needs to be moved from WD, the value Ward has in the circle is lost when the move must be made, so potentially expect to see Jovic spending more time at WD in the off season in preparation should this switch be needed next year.
Overall strong recruiting from the Magpies makes answering this question difficult, but the club has traditionally struggled in the GA position and while Garbin is a strong recruit for GS with the ability to also play GA, this is not her strongest or preferred position. Garbin’s impact GA role with Swifts was hot and cold, sometimes working and sometimes not, so how she manages to build a combination with Nelson will play a big role in the ability of her to play more of a positive impact role at GA and could potentially be a downfall for Magpies in games where a change is needed in this position.
Predicted Starting Seven
Stay tuned for our next instalment, deconstructing the 2022 GIANTS Netball and Melbourne Vixens.
Categories: Suncorp Super Netball
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