Where to next for the reigning Vixens?: SSN 2021 Preview

What to expect in 2021 from Reigning Champions Melbourne Vixens

What to expect in 2021

Reigning champions the Melbourne Vixens have some hard yards ahead of them if they want to keep their title. 

All eyes will be on the shooters in 2021 as for the first time in 14 seasons the Vixens are entering the Suncorp Super Netball with an unfamiliar shooting duo. Mwai Kumwenda and Kaylia Stanton go into the season as the two preferred starters, with young gun Ruby Barkmeyer on the bench.

Kumwenda is coming off a fantastic 2020 season with the Vixens as the circuit breaker shooter, often using her long range and uncommon jump shot to put the Vixens ahead of her opponents.

However, Kaylia Stanton (transfer from the West Coast Fever) has the big shoes of veteran GA Tegan Phillips to fill. With her limited court time over the past seven years at West Coast Fever, Simone McKinnis has signed Stanton in hopes to score a few more supershots in 2021.

After a few good hit outs in the preseason and lots to improve on, it looks like Stanton is settling in nicely to the Vixens style of play. The partnership should not be underestimated for their lack of skill and could be a new force to reckon with.

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The Biggest Challenge

Alongside Kumwenda and Stanton, the Vixens have retained the core of their team including their loud yet ferociously motivating captain Kate Moloney and defence duo Emily Mannix and Jo Weston.

The biggest challenge for the is deciding who can fill the gaping hole left by Australian Diamond captain Liz Watson, who has been ruled out for the season with a long-term foot injury

Liz Watson, injured co-captain of the Melbourne Vixens. Photo: Melbourne Vixens

There are a quite a few contenders for this position, with four of the club’s training partners playing the WA role. To many the obvious choice would be Premiership player Tayla Honey, but for fans who have followed the Vixens for many years, it is likely to be someone who has yet to make their mark on the SSN court.

Enter Hannah Mundy.

On Wednesday April 27, Mundy was named as the temporary replacement player after her stunning performances in pre-season with the team. Mundy is the product of Australian Diamond Shelley O’Donnell and has made her way up through the Victorian Netball pathways.

However, the word temporary lingers over Mundy’s spot as McKinnis’ has commented that she and the team will continue to work on “combinations in our squad that will help us have the strongest start to the season.”

This could work in the teams favour as they now have the opportunity to rotate five training partners through the squad, which could not only disrupt their opponent’s preparation, but also allow them to monopolise on individual skills.  

The Success Factor

Train. Play. Rinse. Repeat.

The beauty of the Vixens is their ability to execute game plans to perfection. Their play is like clockwork. The team has this ability to know where each player is and is going to be and with that there are very few unforced errors.

This is the typical yet beautiful Simone McKinnis’ style of coaching and if the Vixens continue to execute this style, despite roster changes, they will be very hard to beat.

IN
  • Kate Moloney (Captain)
  • Emily Mannix (Vice Captain)
  • Ruby Barkmeyer (elevated training partner)
  • Kadie-Ann Dehaney
  • Kate Eddy
  • Mwai Kumwenda
  • Allie Smith (elevated training partner)
  • Kaylia Stanton (transfer from West Coast Fever)
  • Jo Weston

OUT

  • Jacqui Newton (Collingwood Magpies)
  • Elle McDonald (Adelaide Thunderbirds)
  • Tayla Honey (Current Training Partner)
  • Tegan Phillips (Retired)
  • Caitlin Thwaites (Retired)
  • Liz Watson (Leadership Group, injured)

Training Partners

  • Hannah Mundy (replacement player Rd.1)
  • Gabby Coffey
  • Jordan Cransburg
  • Tayla Honey
  • Sacha McDonald

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About Charlotte Burns 9 Articles
Charlotte is a netball die-hard living in Melbourne, Australia but originally from New Zealand. As a contributor, Charlotte delves into playing statistics, the untold stories and international netball inviting a range of players, coaches and administration to come and have a coffee with her. Outside of writing and watching sport, Charlotte engages in commentary on Twitter.

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