With the Suncorp Super Netball signing period over for another year, The Inner Sanctum looks over each squad to see what each starting seven might look like and where the strengths and weaknesses of the team lie.
The Adelaide Thunderbirds have had a relatively busy offseason signing period with international talent being a big focus, as well as the young core of the team being retained.
The biggest in for any team in the league is English Roses star goal attack, Eleanor Cardwell. She brings experience to the circle, having 39 international caps to her name. She is also a calming presence who can play as a holding or moving shooter.
Joining her in the attacking circle rotations will be former Firebird Tippah Dwan, who re-signed for her second season alongside Lucy Austin, who signed her first full contract. Flourishing when given opportunity in the place of Lenize Potgeiter, Austin will relish more time in the pink dress.
The core of the team stays very similar, with captain Hannah Petty and vice captain Maisie Nankivell leading the midcourt with young rising star Tayla Williams helping to provide a spark off the bench. They will be supported by Georgie Horjus in her new position as a wing attack/goal attack.
The defence was the standout across the league this season, so it’s little wonder that all three defenders were re-signed as soon as the season had ended.
Shamera Sterling, Matilda Garrett and Latanya Wilson were excellent this season, with Sterling and Wilson forming a formidable duo in defence while Garrett came on off the bench to test the opposing shooters.
Adelaide Thunderbirds Contracted 10
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After their late season charge got them into the finals this season, the Magpies have chosen to make minimal list changes in the offseason. They have backed in their starting seven, with all players in the seven expected to start next season in games.
In the attacking circle, Jamaican shooter Shimona Nelson and newly capped Australian Diamond shooter Sophie Garbin will continue to grow their partnership, with Nyah Allen expected to feature off the bench in her first full contract.
This is great reward for Allen, who has spent years plying her trade at the Adelaide Thunderbirds before becoming a training partner at the Collingwood Magpies for the last few seasons.
The Magpies have kept their already strong midcourt intact while strengthening the extended playing squad. Reigning Magpies MVP Kelsey Browne leads a stellar line-up with Molly Jovic off the back of a break-out year, and vice-captain Ash Brazill, who is one of the best wing defence players in the world.
They have added depth with the addition of young centre/wing defence Maddie Hinchliffe coming from the Sunshine Coast Lightning in place of Maggie Lind who was not offered a contract.
The defensive stocks continue to be a strength of the Magpies’ list with no change taking place in the off-season. Jodi-Ann Ward and Geva Mentor are expected to start, with Jacqui Newton providing an option in both positions.
Collingwood Magpies Contracted 10
GIANTS Netball have chosen to re-sign their whole SSN 2022 contracted squad in the off-season. This is due to the quality of both the starting side we saw for most of the SSN season, and the cover they have off the bench in each area of the court.
The attacking circle is made up of captain Jo Harten, young gun Sophie Dwyer and rising star Matisse Letherbarrow, who has shown she will be capable of a starting role in the next year or two.
The midcourt is a hard one to break into, which has meant young talent Amy Sligar has spent time on the bench for most of the season. This is great for Sligar and GIANTS Netball as she will be improving week on week in the presence of such experienced players in Maddie Hay, Amy Parmenter and Jamie-Lee Price.
April Brandley combined with young goalkeeper Matilda McDonell for a fantastic season in defence for GIANTS Netball. They have experienced former Swift Lauren Moore who is in the squad, who has shown she will only add to their solid defensive stocks.
GIANTS Netball Contracted 10
Coming up short in the grand final, it’s no surprise to most that the Melbourne Vixens have opted to re-sign the same squad for next season.
In 2023, one of the best midcourt combinations will feature again with 2022 co-captains Kate Moloney and Liz Watson being accompanied in stints by Kate Eddy and Hannah Mundy.
The attacking circle that added former GIANTS Netball star Kiera Austin in 2022 will look to continue to find their chemistry next season.
Joining Austin will be rising star Rahni Samason and star international Mwai Kumwenda, who have also re-signed. Samason will be looking to get more game time after a lay-off with a niggling knee injury.
Starting defenders Jo Weston and Emily Mannix will continue to don the Vixens’ dress as one of the best one-two defensive combinations.
They are joined by former Fever defender Olivia Lewis, who impressed in her first season in Melbourne. A highlight for her season was her first game against her former side, where she played a starring cameo to shut down Jhaniele Fowler.
Melbourne Vixens Contracted 10
Within the signing period, the NSW Swifts showed that they have faith in a majority of the list that took them so close to finals.
The Swifts have re-signed all players from last season, except they opted to replace Kelly Singleton with teen sensation, Sophie Fawns. Fawns was one of the highlights of their season, coming in for injured star shooter Sam Wallace.
As a result of her performances in the first few games as a temporary replacement player, Fawns earned a replacement player contract for the rest of the 2022 season, which has now become a full Swifts contract for 2023.
Fawns will be joined in the attacking circle by her mentor this season, Helen Housby who pairs with Wallace at goal shooter. Just as before the latter was injured, Wallace and Housby will take the goal shooter and goal attack bibs in the starting seven.
The Swifts have re-signed all their midcourters from 2022, with experience coming from co-captains Maddy Proud and Paige Hadley. The youth is added with Tayla Fraser and former Vixen Allie Smith becoming regulars in the starting line-up depending on match-ups.
This area of the court is a strength for the Swifts with different variations forming, which is sure to throw opposition coaches.
The Swifts’ stellar defensive duo of Sarah Klau and Maddy Turner also continues into 2023. Klau and Turner have become known for making life difficult for the best goalers in the competition week in and week out. This form has seen Klau off to another Commonwealth Games.
They will be accompanied by rising defender Teigan O’Shannassy, who can provide cover in the defensive circle as either goal defence or goal keeper.
NSW Swifts Contracted 10
For the Firebirds, the off-season saw a lot of change, although the biggest change came at the top with Megan Anderson leaving the head coach position.
Former NSW Swifts assistant coach, Rebecca Bulley was recently appointed as the head coach after being at the Swifts for two seasons, including the premiership win in 2021.
One positive out of the offseason for the Firebirds was the re-signing of their attacking circle. Given a second contract after her break out this year, Donnell Wallam will look to solidify her connection with Australian Diamonds goal attack Gretel Bueta.
They will be accompanied by Mia Stower, the Firebirds’ Super Shot specialist, who will look for more game time outside of the Power Five period.
Their midcourt will be largely the same as the past season, with experienced trio Kim Ravallion, Lara Dunkley and Gabi Simpson set to continue in the starting positions.
Macy Gardner has been brought back into the full squad after a year as a training partner in 2022. She came to the club as a training partner in 2018, before she got a full time contract in 2020 but failed to impress. She plays centre so will likely cover off the bench as an impact player for Bulley.
The defensive end is a concern in the new year for the Firebirds, with Ruby Bakewell-Doran the only player retained by them. With Eboni Usoro-Brown opting to return to England and Kim Jenner crossing to the Fever, it has left a gaping hole in the Firebirds’ list experience-wise.
These two spots on their full list are 28-year-old goal keeper Remy Kamo and former Sunshine Coast Lightning training partner Ash Unie. Unie can slot into the team as a wing defence or goal defence, which seems unlikely due to the form that former captain Gabi Simpson displayed in the back half of the season.
It is likely that Kamo will start with Bakewell-Doran in front of her due to her more mature body, and Unie’s ability to challenge attackers best left to cameos until she settles into this side. Bakewell-Doran gets the spot due to her form this season and her connection with the Firebirds midcourt.
Queensland Firebirds Contracted 10
Sunshine Coast Lightning
The Sunshine Coast Lightning will look to go bigger and better next SSN season to prove that finishing on the bottom was not indicative of their best.
Next season will see the return of one of the best defenders in the game in Karla Pretorius, which will certainly solidify and help their defence that struggled at times throughout the season.
Pretorius should be playing in the goal defence position, which she has played previously for the Lightning, but her accompanying goal keeper is the next consideration.
Will they swing Kate Walsh into wing defence where her rangy defence has troubled smaller opponents? Will they consider the impact and x-factor of experienced goal keeper Kadie-Ann Dehany or will they turn to the young Tara Hinchliffe who is developing nicely at the level?
Only time will tell, however Walsh bonded well with Hinchliffe this season so that might be a factor early.
The goalers are expected to line-up as they did in 2022 with Cara Koenen, Steph Wood and Reilley Batcheldor all re-signing before the offseason.
Koenen and Wood will keep their starting positions (goal shooter and goal attack respectively), with Batcheldor coming in off the bench for Super Shot opportunities to challenge the opposition’s defence.
The Lightning midcourt is the most interesting area to analyse, as they have opted to only sign three pure midcourt players in Laura Scherian, Mahalia Cassidy and Annie Miller.
In 2022, Scherian and Cassidy usually occupied one wing position (wing defence for Cassidy and wing attack for Scherian) while the other took centre, which is what it looks like might be the plan again next season.
In her first full contract, Miller will be another one to watch to see if she can take the centre or wing attack position, which would allow for Wood to continue in goal attack. If she can stay in the starting side and allow Wood to stay in goal attack, then her combination with Koenen will continue to flourish.
Sunshine Coast Lightning Contracted 10
West Coast Fever
The reigning premiers have come out of the sign and trade period looking as menacing as they did in 2022.
Their steadfast defence will be a highlight as both Rudi Ellis and Sunday Aryang continue to grow with the mentorship of captain Courtney Bruce. They will be joined by former Firebird Kim Jenner who moved clubs for a change of culture.
Jenner played little game time behind Eboni Usoro-Brown this season, but could easily slot into this Fever defence at goal defence alongside Bruce at goal keeper and Aryang at wing defence.
Ellis looks set to get more game time as she continues to show form when given the opportunity. This three pronged defence of Aryang, Bruce and Jenner is both versatile and mobile, which will scare most opposition attacking circles.
The Fever midcourt is the same as last season with Jess Anstiss, Verity Simmons and Emma Cosh to rotate, with Cosh also able to take the goal attack bib.
Anstiss and Simmons have a set combination in the midcourt, but the choice between Cosh or Alice Teague-Neeld at wing attack or Aryang at wing defence allows Dan Ryan to make decisions to upset an opposition’s flow of play.
Arguably the most exciting attacking circle in the league will stay the same, with four time Stacey Marinkovich medallist Jhaniele Fowler set to combine with grand final MVP Sasha Glasgow in goal shooter and goal attack respectively.
They will be joined by either Emma Cosh or Alice Teague-Neeld on occasion, although this duo was sensational all season.
West Coast Fever Contracted 10
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