April Brandley with son Clay. (Picture: Instagram/@GIANTS_Netball)

Australian netball icon and former Diamonds defender April Brandley appeared in her final professional netball game on Sunday after announcing her retirement earlier this week.

The Giants pulled off a remarkable comeback victory against the Melbourne Vixens to send off veteran April Brandley in style.

As the home fans rallied the side, the 33-year-old veteran pulled off a couple of crucial intercepts in the final quarter as the home team outscored the Vixens 14-7 to secure a three-point victory (60-57).

Brandley retires from Super Netball after an impressive 12-year career which saw her represent the Giants, NSW Swifts, West Coast Fever, and Collingwood Magpies in over 150 matches. Highlights in her career included playing 39 games with the national team and earning silver medals at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and 2019 World Cup along the way.

Beginning her career in 2011 as a replacement for the Queensland Firebirds, Brandley has been the heart and soul of the Giants since joining them in 2020 from the Magpies. While Brandley felt like it was the right time to retire, she didn’t provide an exact reason as she wasn’t sure what was next in her life.

Although she admitted that her retirement has nothing to do with the ongoing dispute between the players’ association and Netball Australia.

April Brandley in action. (Suncorp Super Netball)

Earlier in the week, after her retirement announcement, teammates Sophie Dwyer and Tilly McDonell spoke to The Inner Sanctum about her presence on and off the netball court.

Regularly training against one another in training, Sophie Dwyer had amazing words to say about Brandley, a player that she grew up watching in the Diamonds squad.

“I think April’s one of the absolute best people I’ve ever met, not just as a player but as a person,” Dywer told The Inner Sanctum.

“She’s so genuine and really does put herself out there to support others and really can build a relationship with you, not only on the court but off the court.

“She’s one of the players that will always check in on you (and) can really tell when something might be off, and we’ll have those conversations and for her to join the team after she became a mum and build our GIANTS family with Clay and Jason really do bring extra joy.

“I’m so lucky that I get to train on her every day and not play against her because she is one of the best goal defences and someone I watched in the Diamonds squad for so long.

“I’m really lucky that I do get to play with her but even more lucky that I can have that relationship with her off the court because she’s one of the best humans.”

Tilly McDonell (L), April Brandley (C) and Lauren Moore (R). (Giants Netball)

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Tilly McDonell echoed Dwyer’s words about her recently retired teammate. However, the Giants goalkeeper provided her own words on what Brandley means to her. The two have created a special bond in their time together, with the duo being used as the primary defenders for the Western Sydney team.

“It’s quietly devastating,” McDonell told The Inner Sanctum on Brandley’s retirement.

“She is a pillar in the defensive end for us on and off the court. I think she’s just the most exceptional human, a bloody great netball player and a really good leader for us at the back.

“There’s gonna be a sore heart, but I’m really happy for her because she’s going to that next stage of life, and I’m really glad for her.”

“She is like the most caring, considerate person who (will) always be there like a shoulder to lean on.

“I can’t describe in enough words how amazing she really is. The way she’s just like come into our group and just like made it whole. She came into us two years ago, and she just slotted straight in; it was like the puzzle piece we needed.”

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