Georgie Horjus was named the 2021 Adelaide Thunderbirds Club Champion among a host of awards at the Netball SA Gala on Friday night. 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.
At just 19 years of age, Horjus broke out this season in her first full year as a contracted member of the Adelaide Thunderbirds, and has been recognised for her efforts. Horjus’ award is the highest accolade for the club.
The young attacker announced that she had signed a two-year contract extension last week, as the first member of the squad announced for 2022.
Horjus spoke after she was presented with the Award, and was humble in her acceptance.
“I’m in a lot of shock, I wasn’t expecting this at all, so I’m very happy,” the young shooter said.
“Tania has given me so much support this year, just to play how I want to. When I had [bad] games, she said I played [bad] games, but she’s always had trust in me to get out there the next weekend and play better.
“I think towards the end of the season we really got some momentum, so I’m really excited for what the next couple of years have to hold, and I love the group we’re with at the moment, so I’m really excited.
“I’m still shocked. I’m very excited. I’m lucky to have a great group of girls around me that make it a lot easier every week to come out and I’m super excited for the next couple of years.”
Horjus’ strong year was also recognised with her recent selection to the 2021/22 Australian Diamonds Development Squad, showing a clear pathway to the Diamonds in the future.
Horjus was not the only member of the 2021 Thunderbirds recognised.
Maisie Nankivell was named Member’s Player for 2021, and also announced a contract extension earlier in the week.
Departing wing defence Shadine van der Merwe was recognised with the Player’s Player Award. Van der Merwe has since departed the Thunderbirds, and has signed with the Manchester Thunder in the Vitality Netball Super League.
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Thunderbirds captain Hannah Petty was awarded the Valour Spirit Award, for her commitment to the team. In her acceptance speech, Petty announced that she has signed a two-year deal to remain with the Thunderbirds.
Petty also celebrated her 50th Suncorp Super Netball match during the 2021 season.
Thunderbirds coach Tania Obst spoke at the Awards Gala, and was positive about the future of the team.
“Our squad was the youngest by average of age of any team in the league. We are proud to be giving young netballers this chance to compete on the big stage of Suncorp Super Netball, the world’s best netball competition,” Obst said.
“We’re continuing to build both on and off the court to realise our capabilities as a club. I think in many ways, we have only improved, and the future direction of the side, but its going to be unbelievably tough. Climbing the Suncorp Super Netball mountain is challenging.
“We need to make sure that our fiercely committed to each other, our Club, and our state to achieve great success. As a Club, we need to band together in this often selfless and thankless task, but the prize is always worth it. The expectation of success should be unconditional, and I’d love to get us there. It’s a whole team effort.
“The effort of our team, and the momentum we brought was extraordinary this year, and while this year has been another challenging and unpredictable one, the resilience that you have all shown signifies that we are on the upward trajectory and stepping in the right direction.
“We’ve celebrated some key signings recently, and we look forward to sharing the rest of our 2022 squad with you all very soon. Thank you again for the last season, and I look forward to Season 2022, with exciting times ahead.”
The Awards Gala was also an opportunity for Netball SA to recognise some of the junior and pathway players.
Lucy Austin was named as the Premier League Most Valuable Player. The 19-year-old was previously recognised in 2020 Grand Final MVP in the Premier League, for her performance with the Matrics.
The shooter spent 2021 as a Thunderbirds Training Partner, after previously representing South Australia at u17 and u19 level.
Austin also travelled with the team to Queensland for the final rounds of the Suncorp Super Netball season when the competition relocated. Despite missing a number of Premier League matches while she was in Queensland, Austin was still named MVP and in the Premier League Team of the Year.
The Reserves Division MVP was Maggie Kerr. The 24-year-old has been with South Adelaide since 2013, and her partnership in the goal circle with Courtney Maynard was key to the historic success of the team in 2021.
It was the first time that South Adelaide had a team in the Premier League Grand Final, and they went down by just one goal.
The Thunderbirds are expected to announce the final members of the 2022 roster in the coming days.
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