Mid-courter Elle McDonald has re-signed with the Adelaide Thunderbirds. For all the Suncorp Super Netball signing news, stay up to date with our Off-Season Hub and follow The Inner Sanctum’s netball podcast, Over a Third, on Twitter and Instagram to get the news when it breaks.
McDonald joined the Thunderbirds last season after being a training partner with the Melbourne Vixens in 2020. She managed to play five games across that season, but it was 2021 where she made her mark.
Often starting off the bench and rotating across centre and wing attack, McDonald showed a capability to be a strong attacking cog in the Adelaide mid-court.
She finished the season with 74 assists, nine deflections, and three intercepts, further showing a defensive side to her game.
Thunderbirds High Performance Manager Pitre Bourdon believes that with more consistency under her belt, McDonald can take the next step this season.
“Elle is a very versatile athlete and brings great maturity and game smarts to the group,” Bourdon said.
“We saw great signs from her this season and we look forward to seeing her grow again next year.
“She had an interrupted pre-season in 2021 so we’re really excited for her to get a full pre-season behind her and come out firing in 2022.”
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Speaking to The Inner Sanctum earlier in the year, McDonald embraced the opportunities that being a part of a championship winning Vixens squad throughout the 2020 season brought.
Like many others, she faced the challenges of hubbing away from home up in Queensland.
“It was amazing to be a part of. Myself and the other training partners, we were just really lucky to be involved in the whole experience with the team,” McDonald said.
“We probably knew that if a regular season was to have occurred, we might not have got the opportunities that we did.
“To be living day in and day out with the likes of those athletes was incredible to learn from and it’s definitely helped us grow, not only as players but people as well.”
In a year that was a struggle on court for the Thunderbirds in 2021, winning just five games, McDonald managed to shine against quality opposition.
While Maisie Nankivell and Hannah Petty were often the headliners, she quietly went about her business whenever head coach Tania Obst called on her.
She particularly impressed in the Round 6 win over the Vixens, their first of the way, taking the court in the third term in centre.
McDonald quickly racked up 14 feeds and five goal assists, demonstrating her worth as a player that can grow into a starting midcourter.
With herself and Nankivell now both re-signed, as well as goal attack firecracker Georgie Horjus, the Thunderbirds attacking brigade looks very nearly set. Petty is the only name left to join them, unless she signs elsewhere. The Inner Sanctum understands that this is unlikely, however.
Shadine van der Merwe’s departure leaves a defensive mid-court spot open. Its looking increasingly likely that McDonald will be starting off the bench again in 2022, unless one of her fellow mid-courters can find a defensive side to their game.
With seven players signed, the Thunderbirds have a shooting spot and two mid-court spots open in their squad. Lenize Potgieter and Petty are the only players from the 2021 squad left unsigned.
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