16/04/2024

Jo Harten knows the Giants must execute against the Swifts on Saturday. (Photo: Giants Netball/Twitter)

With the Suncorp Super Netball Grand Final fast approaching, Jo Harten believes the Giants have what it takes to secure their inaugural premiership.

With the Suncorp Super Netball Grand Final fast approaching, Jo Harten believes the Giants have what it takes to secure their inaugural premiership.

Taking on a leadership role when the club was established in 2017, Harten and the Giants faced the Sunshine Coast Lightning but fell 17 goals short of the trophy.

Alongside coach Julie Fitzgerald, Harten wants nothing more than for her side to come away with a win on Saturday.

Not only is the grand final Super Netball’s 300th game, it’s Harten’s 150th national league match too. The milestones are insignificant to the English star, who says this weekend isn’t about her.

“It’s all about the team this week. I couldn’t care less if it’s my 150th game if I’m being honest,” Harten said.

“We just want to have a really competitive, strong outing on Saturday.”

Harten’s role as captain will be in the forefront of her mind on Saturday. (Photo: Dani Brown)

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After moving to Australia to join the Giants in their first year of competition, Harten now calls Sydney home.

Sending love to members and fans at home, the sharp shooter is glad that Giants supporters can ride the wave with her team.

“It’s just a great opportunity to have that New South Wales derby,” she said.

“It obviously hasn’t happened before and I think that’s such a treat for those… that are stuck in their living rooms.

“Hopefully it plays out to be that fairy-tale for one of the New South Wales teams. Obviously we want the Giants to be holding that trophy on Saturday.”

Coming off a three-goal win against the Fever in the preliminary final last week, the Giants will carry the momentum of that success into their final game for the year.

“It has to be an advantage for us in terms of playing the Fever,” Harten said.

“We’ve had a couple of really close games and battles against them this year so I think playing those guys in the prelim last week has prepped us well.

“It’s kept us on that steady schedule and routine that we’ve faced throughout the year.”

Grand final preparation

Harten says she won’t go back and watch the 2017 grand final match, given the Giants ensemble is so different now.

“There’s been so much netball that’s happened in-between those moments, but for me I think you reflect on the feeling in the moments where you felt you could’ve done better,” she said.

“Myself as a leader, how I could have lead the team differently that day as well.

“You take everything into account but then realise that we’re in 2021, we’re in a completely different scenario with a completely different group.”

After the Giants lost Kiera Austin in Round 1, Harten has taken 19-year-old Sophie Dwyer under her wing this season.

Sophie Dwyer in action for Giants
Jo Harten and Sophie Dwyer lead the league with Super Shot attempts and conversions. (Photo: Giants Netball)

Not only will Harten have to step up on Saturday, but the Giants must represent their state and their club with pride.

“We don’t want to be in a one-goal position come the 59th minute and I think we had a look at more so our start,” the captain explained.

“Our first quarter we want to really try and start the game a little bit better than we did previously.

“We’ve had a look at a lot of things but I think when it comes down to a grand final anything can happen on the day. We just have to hold our nerve and keep attacking the game from the first whistle.”

Appreciating the little things

Any experienced player or coach knows reaching the grand final after a difficult season is the ultimate reward, but Harten and coach Julie Fitzgerald encourage the Giants to appreciate the little things.

“I rock up every pre-season hoping that you do enough for yourself and your team that you can lift the trophy at the end of the year,” Harten said.

“I’ve also played long enough now to know that grand finals don’t come around every season, and you have to take it for what it is.

“You’ve got to enjoy the small moments. You’ve got to enjoy the hard and pressurised moments. I think that’s what my aim will be to do on Saturday.

“Soak it all up because you never know when it’s your last.”

The grand final will also be Fitzgerald’s 360th national league match as a coach. If the Giants win, it will be the sixth time a side she’s coached has lifted the premiership trophy.

Fitzgerald says this week has been all about making sure her young team appreciates the rarity of making a grand final.

“I want the young ones to appreciate that they don’t come around that easily,” Fitzgerald said.

“You don’t get to play that many, and I want them to enjoy everything that goes with it.

“Then you understand that once you get to the game, we’re back to being our clinical selves, sticking to the game plan and doing what we need to do.”

NSW Swifts and Giants in action
Maddie Hay is well prepared to feed Dwyer and Harten this weekend. (Photo: Giants Netball)

Team attitude

Harten has risen to the challenge for the Giants throughout the season, encouraging her young team to lift when they face tough challenges.

With her actions speaking louder than her words, the English international will continue her domination in the circle.

With the attitude Harten takes into each and every game, the Giants directed efficiently and effectively.

Embracing every moment as one of the world’s best goalers, she explains she doesn’t give much thought into her team talks beforehand.

“I never pre-plan speaking to the girls before we go out and I never pre-plan what to think about,” Harten said.

“I’m someone who wears their heart on their sleeve and plays with a lot of passion.

“I can tell you for sure that it will be about playing as a unit, a big Giants family, and doing it for each other.”

The Super Netball Grand Final will be played at the same time as the AFL’s Sydney Swans v GWS Giants elimination final on Saturday.

Harten says the team’s affiliation with the GWS Giants side has been a beneficial one, with players and staff sending Giants Netball positive wishes this week.

“Ultimately it’s a great sporting Saturday for New South Wales and we sincerely hope the orange come out on top on both occasions.”

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