Stacey Francis-Bayman will return to the Fever in 2022.

Stacey Francis-Bayman will return to the Fever in 2022. Image: West Coast Fever (Twitter)

West Coast Fever star International defender Stacey Francis-Bayman says that after six seasons, winning a premiership for the Fever would "Without a doubt it would be the biggest highlight of my career".

The biggest game of the Suncorp Super Netball season is upon us and soon a new premiership side will be unveiled after the grand final takes place on Sunday.

The grand final between the West Coast Fever and the Melbourne Vixens is a clash of two titans, the two best sides of the SSN this season and a rematch of the 2020 decider.

A key player for the West Coast Fever is Stacey Francis-Bayman.

She is versatile enough to play goal keeper, goal defence and wing defence and uses her strength, athleticism and agility to wear down her opponents alongside captain Courtney Bruce and young defender Sunday Aryang.

As an English International, Francis-Bayman has done a lot in her decorated career and will continue to after being selected for the upcoming Commonwealth Games. Playing over 70 caps for the English Roses after her debut in 2010, Francis-Bayman has represented England at Under 17, Under 19 and Under 21 level.

She also has two Netball World Cup bronze medals (2011 and 2015) as well as a bronze Commonwealth Games medal from the 2010 games. Not only is she a star internationally, but she also won five Vitality Netball superleague titles with Team Bath.

However, despite the titles and medals won around the world, she is adamant that a premiership with her adopted home club, the Fever, would be her career highlight to date.

“Without a doubt it would be the biggest highlight of my career, I have won titles in the past but SSN is the benchmark in the domestic netball world,” Francis-Bayman said.

“It’s been a privilege to play here, I think I’ve been at my best since I’ve been at the club and I think to be at my best in what I hope will be the best team of this year, it would be really exciting.”

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The Fever have been largely successful in the Suncorp Super Netball competition becoming grand finalists in 2018 and 2020. In 2018 they lost the grand final to the previous winners, the Sunshine Coast Lightning in Perth and in 2020, they lost to the Melbourne Vixens in Queensland.

Playing as part of the West Coast Fever squad for the last six seasons, Stacey Francis-Bayman hopes the Fever will win their maiden title and exact revenge for 2020 on the Vixens.

“I’m not sure it’s part of our conversations but I certainly know all the stats,” Francis-Bayman said.

“I’ve been here for six seasons and we’ve made the finals series four of those and the grand final three of those and not won, so I reckon it’s about time.

“I think we don’t dwell on the past but we are really proud of the journey that we’ve been on as a club and we haven’t reached that ultimate success.

“We have grown exponentially since SSN competition has started and even before that, this year we’ve been really good at recognising our history and our heritage and where the club has come from but we are incredibly ambitious about making sure the club goes somewhere different and achieves something new.”

The West Coast Fever before the 2020 grand final loss to the Melbourne Vixens (Picture: West Coast Fever/Website)

When reflecting on the losses in the games that matter it is often thought that experiences might scar, however the Fever have continued to take the big losses in their stride.

Francis-Bayman admits it is hard looking back on all the moments that led to the finals and grand finals losses, however it helps to group time after time.

“I can recall them all instantly, all of the moments that you wished you’d done differently, the way you feel when the final whistle goes or especially when you look up at the clock and there is only a few minutes left and you have a gauge as to whether the game is within your reach or out of your reach,” she said.

“It’s certainly something I think about, I’m experienced and that comes in really handy.

“I’m excited for the opportunities but I’m certainly not overwhelmed by them and that’s really important for the group as a whole, that most of us have been there, we’ve experienced the pressure of the finals and the pressure of the season, which has been the absolute best year of SSN that there’s ever been so I think we are in really good stead.”

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