17/04/2024

Both Liz Watson and Kate Heffernan had stellar Quad Series for the Diamonds and Silver Ferns respectively (Photo: Netball South Africa/Twitter)

It was yet another stellar 2023 Netball Quad Series, with many individual performers putting their name up in lights across all four nations.

But which players shone the brightest across all eight matches? Here’s The Inner Sanctum’s 2023 Netball Quad Series Team of the Tournament

Goal shooter: Grace Nweke

It’s been an astronomical rise through the international netballing ranks for Silver Fern 20-year-old Grace Nweke and it continued in this Quad Series.

Playing every single minute in the tournament for the Silver Ferns, Nweke’s hybrid style of attacking held up well against the likes of more experienced campaigners in Courtney Bruce, Geva Mentor and Phumza Maweni.

Finishing with 166 goals at a highly accurate rate of 92.2 per cent whilst gaining 14 rebounds, she not only finished as the best shooter of the competition, but as the ‘Player of the Tournament’.

Goal attack: Ameliaranne Ekenasio

It’s an all-Silver Ferns shooting circle with Ameliaranne Ekenasio having yet another stellar international series as captain.

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Whilst her scoring may’ve been limited this series, she still provided a solid attacking foil for her partner in Nweke with whom she had strong chemistry in every minute that she played, providing her with many great scoring opportunities in the circle.

By the end of the tournament she had scored 36 goals at 83.7 per cent as well as give 43 feeds, 35 goal assists, while receiving 55 centre passes.

Wing attack: Liz Watson

Leading the way in the Diamonds team, Watson had yet another stellar international series to help guide them to even more success.

Photo: Melbourne Vixens/Twitter

Dominating in every game she played in, Watson consistently provided strong feeds to her attackers which would usually end in attempts on goal.

By the final whistle she had provided 130 feeds, with 87 of those feeds turning into shots on goal and 79 of the attempts turned into goal assists for Watson. She was also an invaluable target from centre passes, finishing with 53 centre pass receives.

Centre: Paige Hadley

Given the starting job at centre for the Diamonds this year, NSW Swifts captain Hadley grasped the opportunity with both hands.

Playing in every game, including captaining the final round-robin matchup, she fought hard in each match to limit the influence of each team’s centre and sometimes even bench them, including eventual Centre of the Tournament Kate Heffernan in two matches, Imogen Allison, plus star veteran Jade Clarke.

To go with her defensive hard work, she also provided her usual offensive power, providing 42 goal assists and 86 feeds.

Wing defence: Kate Heffernan

Another one who has astronomically risen through the Silver Ferns netballing ranks was Kate Heffernan, who performed at her best in her first ever Quad Series.

Photo: Netball South Africa/Twitter

Predominantly playing at centre following the return of Karin Burger at wing defence, her figures offensively started to improve following the move, providing 33 goal assists, 62 feeds and conceding only eight general play turnovers.

However her defensive work was second to no other mid-courter, conceding minimal feeds and goal assists against the likes of Paige Hadley, Jade Clarke and Imogen Allison collecting six deflections, six intercepts and eight gains. She was also rewarded with the ‘Mid-courter of the Tournament’ award.

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Goal defence: Funmi Fadoju

Despite the Roses having a rough tournament, young defender Funmi Fadoju still continued her rise up the ranks in her first international tournament.

Playing majority of her game time at goal defence, her energetic style of play saw her put up a strong fight against experienced campaigners like Steph Wood, Nichole Taljaard and Ekenasio.

Not only did it combine well with teammates Geva Mentor and Alice Harvey’s style of play, but it also provided many gains for the Roses, finishing the tournament with 16 gains, 11 intercepts plus 20 deflections.

Goal keeper: Courtney Bruce

It was yet another dominant series from arguably the best defender in the world, with Courtney Bruce taking home the ‘Defender of the Tournament’ award as well as a Quad Series win.

Switching around between goal keeper and goal defence, her reading of nearly every attacking play was at its best yet again. Bruce also managed to once again shut out whoever she played on, conceding only 62 goals in the tournament.

Eventually she finished the series with 18 gains, 11 intercepts, nine deflections plus five rebounds.

Bench

Bongiwe Msomi

The third captain of this team, Msomi worked equally as hard as any mid-courter across the entire tournament.

Mixing her time between centre and wing attack, she played every minute of her home tournament. In those minutes not only did Msomi provide solid feeds into her attackers, she also provided strong leadership across the court.

Her hard offensive work paid dividends for her, finishing the tournament with 58 goal assists and 90 feeds.

Photo: Netball South Africa/Twitter

Karla Pretorius

Coming back into the international fold, Sunshine Coast Lightning defender Karla Pretorius slotted right back into the SPAR Proteas lineup.

Only missing one half of action throughout the tournament, Pretorius provided many big moments plus fought hard to limit each goal attack’s influence. By the end of it she had acquired 10 gains, five intercepts, four deflections and two rebounds.

Eleanor Cardwell

Another one of England’s shining lights in the Quad Series, Cardwell continued on her consistent nature of always dominating under the post.

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Predominantly playing at goal shooter alongside usual partner-in-crime Helen Housby, she used her reach and aggressive style of play to nearly dominate against every goal keeper she played against.

She was also accurate around the post, finishing with 93 goals from her three matches at 89.4 per cent plus acquiring four rebounds.

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