Which training partners should your Suncorp Super Netball team elevate in 2022?

Which training partners will join the main squads in 2022? (Photos: Melbourne Vixens; Collingwood Super Netball/Facebook; Leeds Rhinos)

Which Suncorp Super Netball training partners should be elevated to the main squad for 2022?

The Inner Sanctum’s netball writers have taken a look through this season’s training partners and selected who would be most likely to join their team’s main squad next season.

Adelaide Thunderbirds – Tyler Orr

The Thunderbirds mid-court rotation this year relied heavily on Elle McDonald’s ability to cover all three positions as a replacement. McDonald appears to be best suited to playing across centre and wing attack when on court, however, and was best utilised further up the court.

This issue means that a support or alternative in wing defence is needed behind Shadine van der Merwe, who dominated the wing defence position for 13 games this season. Despite that, Tyler Orr provides a look to the future of the Thunderbirds mid-court. 

After her taste of Super Netball in 2020 with Collingwood, Orr showed the versatility needed, while picking up four deflections and an intercept in relief duty for the Magpies.

That potential provides a point of difference and a potential change for a Thunderbirds mid-court that cannot come back the same as 2021. 

Orr starred in the 2021 Premier League grand final for the Matrics Netball team in a hard-fought grand final.

Her extensive Premier League experience, coupled with her taste of Super Netball in 2020 makes her a prime candidate to be elevated in 2022 to add depth and punch to the Thunderbirds mid-court. 

Daniel Coppel

Collingwood Magpies – Nyah Allen

With shooter Kalifa McCollin potentially attracting attention from elsewhere, Collingwood would do well to elevate World Youth Cup squad member Nyah Allen.

McCollin only received 16 per cent game time in what was a settled goal circle, spending more games confined to the bench that not, as 22-year-old rising star Shimona Nelson and Gabby Sinclair owned the post. 

In that time, McCollin shot 31 goals and seven Super Shots, while also racking up three rebounds. The former Vitality Netball Superleague player and Trindad and Tobago national squad member could have more to show at Super Netball level with more court time at another club.

Allen got her first chance of the 2021 season in the Round 9 loss to the Thunderbirds when Sinclair was a late out with a quad strain.

While she struggled when shooting, converting just 53 per cent of her shots, her 12 feeds and 10 goal assists helped put together a strong offensive game.

She took 12 centre pass receives, the second most of any Magpie on the day. While Ash Brazill and Melissa Bragg tried to keep the out of control Maisie Nankivell on the chain, Allen also worked hard to reclaim the ball, with two rebounds, a gain and an intercept.

Allen spent four minutes on court in the final quarter of the end of season thrashing at the hands of the West Coast Fever. While her shooting struggled again, overawed in a difficult game, coach Nicole Richardson still gave the goaler a chance to prove herself.

The lack of National Championships this year and last no doubt impacted on Allen’s development, but with a strong off-season and a show of faith, the young shooter can become a SSN starting quality player.

Alex Catalano

Giants Netball – Amy Sligar

One thing that 2021 was known for was some great debutant performances, and for Amy Sligar it was no different. 

Sligar was brought into the 10 in Round 1 when Kristiana Manu’a was sidelined due to a calf strain. It wasn’t until Round 2 that she got to make her debut though, when Amy Parmenter went out of the side injured.

Although she didn’t set the world on fire when it came to numbers, she provided an option at centre passes with six centre pass receives.

While over the past couple of seasons the Giants have gone with a defence heavy roster, adding flexibility to that mid-court is something the Giants will look out for considering that Manu’a will be playing in New Zealand with the Central Pulse in 2022.

During the finals series and late in the season some of the Giants mid-courters had a few off games. Having added the extra defender, there was not much room for movement when it came to the Giants mid-court. 

Elevating Sligar would add that flexibility in the mid-court being able to play wing defence and centre. The 19-year-old also played goal defence in the South West Sydney Academy of Sport growing up too.

Sligar also has on court connections with a few of the current Giants, having played in the Australian Netball League (ANL) for the Canberra Giants alongside Maddie Hay, and taking home the 2018 NSW Premier League Championship title for North Shore United with Matisse Letherbarrow.

Elly McNerney 

Melbourne Vixens – Rahni Samason

With the Vixens struggling all year to maintain consistent form in attack, the obvious choice would be for Simone McKinnis to elevate Rahni Samason from a training partner to a full time member of the team. 

Samason made her Super Netball debut in Round 5 against the Queensland Firebirds, shooting 19 of 19 goals and landing eight Super Shots – a shooting accuracy of 93 per cent.

With the ability to perform under extreme pressure, the 23-year-old displayed incredible talent in the three games she played this season. 

Named the 2018 Deakin University Australian Netball League ‘Most Valuable Player’, Samason tore her left anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in 2019 and spent the year recovering.

Lockdown hindered her debut chances in 2020, but this year Samason was finally granted the opportunity to showcase her talent in the league, following the injury of Emily Mannix. 

Samason’s time on the court this season saw her land 57 goals and 14 Super Shots, with one offensive rebound, two pick-ups and an intercept.

Rahni Samason’s debut left an impression on Vixens fans. (Picture: Melbourne Vixens)

Her appearance provided light in a dark time for the Vixens, who went from premiers in 2020 to wooden spooners in 2021.

Samason seamlessly slotted into the circle, accompanying Mwai Kumwenda under the post with an instantaneous connection.

If McKinnis is looking to combat the Vixens’ shooting woes for the upcoming season, Samason has definitely proved she deserves the opportunity. 

Jessica Miles

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NSW Swifts – Courtney Castle

With speculation circulating about Nat Haythornethwaite’s departure from the Swifts, Briony Akle may look to elevate Swifts Academy athlete Courtney Castle to the squad ahead of the 2022 season. 

Bringing versatility in attack with an extremely physical style of play, Castle’s strong drives to the top of the circle coupled with well executed hands-over defence will be an asset to the Swifts line-up.

Missing out on the U17 NSW Nationals Team, the now 19-year-old worked tirelessly to ensure she was selected for the U19 team, but due to the cancellation of nationals she was unable to represent her state. 

With good leadership qualities and experience in the Netball NSW Premier League, Castle has the potential to be the next Australian star, mirroring the path of Paige Hadley, who made her debut for the Swifts at 20. 

Notching up her 50th game for GWS Fury this year in the Premier League, the mid-court specialist’s game would develop immensely if she had the opportunity to play in the Swifts environment.

The Liverpool Netball Association junior was also a member of the Australian Netball League NSW Waratahs team, making her debut in 2019.

Taking to the court in the Swifts pre-season match against the Collingwood Magpies, Castle was exposed to high-performance talent, taking her experience back to her club side to produce dominant performances.

Castle went head-to-head with Magpies MVP Jodi-Ann Ward in pre-season. (Photo: NSW Swifts/Twitter)

If Haythornethwaite heads home to the United Kingdom, Castle may be given the opportunity to fill her shoes. With plenty of years to come at the elite level, she can play a significant role in carrying on the Swifts’ legacy in the future. 

Jessica Miles

Queensland Firebirds – Ruby Bakewell-Doran

If Megan Anderson wants to, she can stay close to home to replace her injured goal defence Tara Hinchliffe. 

Ruby Bakewell-Doran has spent a year in the Queensland Fusion team (2019) and two years as a training partner with the Firebirds. She is ready to hit the big time. 

When given her opportunity through squad injuries in the Super Netball this year, she has taken it with both hands, Bakewell-Doran played wing and goal defence in the final rounds of the season and demonstrated strong potential to do the job permanently.

After making her debut in Round 9 against the Giants, Bakewell-Doran featured in two of the Firebirds final three games.

She spent 20 minutes on court against Collingwood at wing defence, where she took an intercept and had a deflection. She also played at goal defence against the Melbourne Vixens in Round 14, where she took three intercepts and had a deflection. 

The Rudi Ellis and Kim Jenner combination in the circle had an impressive finish to the season, and with Gabi Simpson still at wing defence, Bakewell-Doran is an impressive alternative impact player who could earn a contract for 2022. 

Sarah Wildy

Sunshine Coast Lightning – Martina Reekers

It is a fairly settled goal circle combination up on the Sunshine Coast where Diamonds Cara Koenen and Steph Wood lead the way brilliantly. 

However, with Binnian Hunt heading to New Zealand and Peace Proscovia not returning in 2022, the third goal scoring option is something the Lightning should explore. 

Teen shooting sensation Martina Reekers has been lighting up the Sapphire series in Queensland for the Brisbane North Cougars and is one Sunshine Coast could go after to fill that space.

While not technically a training partner this season, she is playing in the same level of competition as the girls training with Super Netball squads. Dubbed the queen of the long bomb, she lifted her Brisbane North Cougars to premiership success in the recent Sapphire Netball Grand Final with 39 goals from 49 attempts.

Given the Super Shot has not been a frequent tactic for most of the Lightning shooters, Reekers’ ability to shoot from range should appeal to coach Kylee Byrne as it presents an opportunity to really embrace the rule. 

Reekers was selected in Queensland’s 19 and Under National Championships team and, while the 2021 event never went ahead, she has shown her ability on the national stage in previous years in the 17 and under competition.

She is a star on the rise, deserving of a Super Netball opportunity and the Lightning would be a great fit in 2022.

Sarah Wildy

West Coast Fever – Donnell Wallam

Prior to the start of the year, not many people knew the name Donnell Wallam, but that quickly changed.

After dominating in the Western Australian Netball League for the past two years she was recruited to join the inaugural Leeds Rhinos side in the Vitality Super League. 

Once people saw her on the court for the Rhinos, netball fans right across the country quickly discovered that she is a future Diamond. 

From 13 appearances for the Leeds Rhinos, Wallam has scored 483 goals for the season with an efficiency of 91 per cent, which proves how dominant she is in the goal circle.

With the uncertainty around if Jhaniele Fowler will return back to the Fever next season, the new coach won’t have to look too far to replace her. 

Wallam has been a training partner for the Fever over the past two seasons, although with the implications that COVID-19 has had on the season she hasn’t had the opportunity to mix in with the squad. 

Her playing style is a mix of Fowler’s and the Firebirds’ Gretel Bueta. She has the ability to be a strong holding shooter like Fowler, but has the versatility to be able to do the lay ups and has a basketball background like Bueta. 

Elly McNerney

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