Four time Netball Superleague championship winner Eleanor Cardwell is departing the Manchester Thunder for an ‘exciting opportunity’ overseas.
The immediate links see her likely to land in the Suncorp Super Netball competition. There’s no doubt the star shooter is at the level.
With 39 international caps for the English Roses and just having been named in the Commonwealth Games squad, Cardwell seems a shoe-in.
Australian fans got a good look at the 27-year-old in her starring role in the Quad Series draw against the Diamonds, where she shot 26 goals at 86.7 per cent.
Playing majority goal attack to Helen Housby at goal shooter, she matched up strongly against both Jo Weston and Sunday Aryang. She shot another 30 goals at 93.8 per cent with nine less minutes on court in the final.
The timing couldn’t be any better. Barely a week post the grand final, the SSN Signing Period opened on Monday.
Two sides seem to be the frontrunners, but there are vacancies elsewhere in the league. The Inner Sanctum takes a look at where Cardwell could make the biggest impact.
The team with the biggest and most obvious shooting circle gaps, the Thunderbirds would love a shooter of Cardwell’s quality for 2023.
While they were improved this season, the Thunderbirds failed to win any more than five games again. They were also the lowest scoring team in the league by a wide margin, 92 less than the second last Swifts.
After three seasons in Adelaide, goal shooter Lenize Potgeiter was not offered a new contract. With Georgie Horjus the only currently contracted goaler, Tania Obst’s side desperately needs to bring new talent into the goal circle.
Should the Thunderbirds choose to re-sign Tippah Dwan or elevate training partner Lucy Austin, Cardwell would be well suited to partnering with either.
She’s spent time playing both GS and GA at both international and Superleague level, and is a phenomenal shot from anywhere in the circle.
With the use of Horjus as a wing attack through large parts of the 2022 season, adding Cardwell to the shooting circle keeps her as an option through the midcourt.
At international level, Cardwell has shown the ability to match up well even against the best defenders in the competition, including Sarah Klau and Jo Weston. Should the Thunderbirds get their midcourt completely fleshed out, they would be in prime position to rise with a player like Cardwell to feed to.
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The decision to not offer goal attack Gabby Sinclair a contract for 2023 makes the prospect of Cardwell’s availability a tantalising one.
At a surface level, it may not make sense. Shimona Nelson is one of the best young shooters in the SSN at the moment. She finished second for goals in 2022, shooting 661 at 93.09 per cent.
Add Diamond Sophie Garbin to that, and it doesn’t seem like the right fit. However, one only needs to look to the Roses set up to see how it could work.
Cardwell is no stranger to playing in a taller, slightly less mobile goaling combo alongside Helen Housby. Nelson and Cardwell could form a similar duo.
With Nelson so strong under the post, Cardwell could help to draw defenders out of the circle and let her teammate play to her strengths, one on one.Embed from Getty Images
Much like Sinclair, Cardwell is perfectly suited to feeding into the circle as well. She had 244 feeds to go with her 641 goals for Manchester in 2022.
That doesn’t bode well for Garbin’s court time, however. It would put her in very nearly the same situation that caused her to seek a home outside of New South Wales.
With Garbin never playing a full 60 minutes across the season (averaging 37 minutes), the addition of Cardwell might lower this even further.
The West Coast Fever currently have a goaling availability, with Emma Cosh unsigned. But with the best shooter in the world in Jhaniele Fowler and Sasha Glasgow’s rapid rise, it seems an unlikely move.
Every other team seems more than happy moving into 2023 with their current circles, with all still under contract.
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