Thunderbirds aim for ladder rise: SSN 2021 preview

Adelaide Thunderbirds team huddle
The Adelaide Thunderbirds huddle during a preseason hit-out. (Photo: Adelaide Thunderbirds/Instagram)

What to expect in 2021

The Thunderbirds took great leaps forward in 2020, yet still only managed five wins and seventh on the Suncorp Super Netball ladder. 

In 2021 the team is lifting their standards and expectations, in an aim to rise up the standings.

The bookends remain the same, but Adelaide made some other personnel changes in the off season.

Teenager Georgie Horjus, who had a breakout 2020 season as an elevated training partner, will continue her work in attack for the Thunderbirds. As will Samantha Gooden, who earned a contract after her work as an injury replacement shooter last season.

The addition of Elle McDonald from the Melbourne Vixens will add a new dynamic to the midcourt, an area of the court left inexperienced by the off-season changes.

The biggest shake up has come at the defensive end, with the Thunderbirds acquiring Matilda Garrett from the Collingwood Magpies and Jamaican international Latanya Wilson.

Just how coach Tania Obst plays her versatile defenders will be sure to keep the opposition on their toes.

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Biggest factor for success

Adelaide boasts four talented import players, but that came at a cost with Shamera Sterling, Lenize Potgieter and Shadine van der Merwe only returning to Adelaide in late-March.

After preseason sessions in different countries and team meetings on Zoom, the full squad has had just one month together. 

Developing on-court chemistry will be an early challenge. However, the leadership group in the midcourt will be crucial to supporting these different combinations.

Positive preseason hit outs against last years’ finalists are promising signs this young team is heading in the right direction. 

Last year: Seventh

Squad

Returning: Hannah Petty (captain), Maisie Nankivell (vice-captain), Shadine van der Merwe (vice-captain), Lenize Potgieter, Shamera Sterling

In: Latanya Wilson (Jamaican international), Matilda Garrett (Collingwood Magpies), Elle McDonald (Melbourne Vixens), Samantha Gooden (2020 injury replacement player), Georgie Horjus (elevated training partner)

Out: Chelsea Pitman (contract not renewed), Kate Shimmin (Sunshine Coast Lightning), Layla Guscoth (Team Bath), Sasha Glascow (West Coast Fever), Cody Lange (retired)

Training Partners: Lucy Austin, Chelsea Blackman, Tyler Orr, Molly Watson, Tayla Williams

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