Matisse Letherbarrow completes the Giants' shooting circle, joining Sophie Dwyer and Jo Harten under the post.

Matisse Letherbarrow completes the Giants' shooting circle, joining Sophie Dwyer and Jo Harten under the post. Photo: Giants Netball

Giants Netball has locked in its season 2022 line-up with 19-year-old Matisse Letherbarrow securing her first official Super Netball playing contract.

Giants Netball has locked in their season 2022 shooting line-up with 19-year-old Matisse Letherbarrow securing her first official Super Netball playing contract. 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.

A product of Baulkham Hills Netball Association, Letherbarrow has been a training partner at both the NSW Swifts and Giants Netball over the last three seasons, earning the call-up to join the Giants as a replacement player after Kiera Austin ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in Round One this year.

Although the teen played less than 15 minutes across the 2021 season, when she did get the opportunity to take to the court, she displayed incredible potential.

The young shooter has been on the cusp of the elite competition for a number of years before 2021, and told The Inner Sanctum that she was delighted to be a permanent part of the playing roster.

“I think being in the environment for a couple of years now and obviously being brought up a replacement player and stuff and getting a taste of what it’s all about and what it’s like to be up there, obviously has been such a cool experience for me,” she said.

“To finally get a contract I guess on my own terms is really, really exciting and I can’t wait.

“This year, obviously being a replacement player was a really big learning year for me.

“I think finally being up in the environment full-time and having the experience and the exposure as to what I did and obviously getting opportunities on court, I think was absolutely vital for me especially going into next year.

“Having that experience under my belt now and knowing completely what it’s about and what I need to do and I guess how I need to perform to be consistent at that level was really really important for me.”

Letherbarrow held her own against Shamera Sterling in the Power Five in Round 8. Photo: Giants Netball Instagram

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Throughout the 2021 season, despite not playing a significant role on court, Letherbarrow believes that she was able to grow from the experience on the road with the team.

“I think being on the bench as compared to being on the court is a very very different experience, but I think you learn a lot,” she explained.

“Obviously you’re cheering as loud as you can and being the biggest support for the girls, but I think watching how the girls play and being able to pick up on things that you think that obviously, the team’s doing really well and also what you think could be done better, I think is really – you can see that first hand on the bench.

“I think especially at quarter time and half time, and even at the end of the game, like having really good discussions about our performance and where we can go from there, I think is really important and I always take being on the bench as a learning experience and yeah I take it in my stride.”

And that time away with the team wasn’t just a benefit for the team. Letherbarrow was working with Jo Harten, one of the most decorated shooters in the world, and Kiera Austin, a Diamond, and Sophie Dwyer, a young star in ascendancy, who was stepping into Austin’s role.

“I’ve definitely improved and I’ve still got a long way to go, but the development is absolutely coming,” Letherbarrow explained.

“I think seeing Soph [Sophie Dwyer] this first year and how amazing she did, I think I’m inspired by that and it’s definitely something I look up to. And, being able to be in the mix with Jo [Harten], who is a world class netball player, not only is she an amazing netball, she’s an amazing mentor and human.

“So I think obviously having such, and even Kippa [Kiera Austin] this year as well, she was amazing to pick her brain at things as well. Having these people around you constantly, I’m really really lucky and fortunate.

“I’m super grateful as well, and I think it’s really, really helped in my development and I’m really excited to see how far I can go, especially with Soph and Jo around me.”

Named in the Australian Netball World Youth Cup Squad alongside teammates Tilly McDonell and Sophie Dwyer, Letherbarrow has mastered her craft within the Netball NSW pathway.

Playing for a local team means a lot to the young star, and she is excited about the prospect of playing with those junior teammates, and in a squad with nine Netball NSW pathway athletes.

“So many of the players that are playing in the Giants team now I’ve looked up to when I was younger,” Letherbarrow said.

“It’s just really, really comforting because Jules absolutely backs her NSW pathway athletes and it’s proof in the pudding with how she’s done it time and time again.

“With giving us opportunities and stuff, you can see how far you can go when you take a gamble on a player and I think that’s why I joined the Giants and that’s why I’m so passionate about the team and the club because they do look at their Netball NSW pathway athletes.

“They’re the ones that are giving girls the opportunities to live out their dreams and I’m just so grateful to be a part of such an amazing club and to be under a world-class coach like Julie Fitzgerald.”

Letherbarrow grew up progressing through the NSW Pathway, representing the NSW Waratahs at Nationals. Photo: Netball NSW

Letherbarrow’s experience with the Giants in 2021 mirrored her experience through the pathway, where she was given a chance to build connections with her teammates that have blossomed into friendships.

Letherbarrow was on the road with the team for more than three months, and despite being away from home, she says that she was supported well by the team and made to feel part of it.

“Within our team and stuff, we’re like a family and the support is absolutely unwavering and everyone’s completely open and honest with each other, so I think having such a strong relationship with the girls and with each other and even with the staff, is a really really good thing.

“I think even from Netball NSW and even the higher people within the Giants community, constantly showed us amazing support. I think you just look at it as you’re a player in the team and it is a team sport and whatever your job is you do it the best you can.”

And despite that experience with the Giants, Letherbarrow admitted that 2022 would feel different. This year, she will turn up to the first day of preseason training, knowing that she is part of the permanent playing roster for the first time.

“Finally getting the opportunity and being able to live out my dream, I guess my mindset is going to be like leave it at nothing,” the 19 year old said.

“Just go in and absolutely give it my all and leave nothing out there, so I can be the best player I can be for the team.

“this year I just want to really want to absolutely put my best foot forward both on and off the court.

“For me, it’s going to be about having really really strong and good preseason and try and get as fit as I can and then yeah, so leading into the actual season, I’m going to be as ready as I can be and be as prepared as I can be to yeah give it a red hot crack. Hopefully achieve what we did this year, and even better.”

With young stars like Matisse Letherbarrow, the Giants will have plenty of potential. Last year, with their young stars, they fell achingly short of a premiership, falling to the NSW Swifts in the 2021 Grand Final.

Will this 19 year old shooter be the ingredient that takes them over the top?

She hopes so.

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