15/04/2024
April Brandley defends as Helen Housby shoots.

April Brandley defends as Helen Housby shoots. Image: Dani Brown

Ahead of a must-win battle this weekend against the Sunshine Coast Lightning, NSW Swifts coach Briony Akle has praised the efforts of English shooter Helen Housby.

After not contesting in the Suncorp Super Netball finals last season, the NSW Swifts have struggled to perform in all four quarters so far this season.

One of the most successful clubs since the Suncorp Super Netball era began in 2017, the Swifts are looking to ease the pressure off them with a victory on Sunday. A win against the Lightning could possibly increase their standing and enter them into the top four for the first time this season.

After a quick start against the West Coast Fever, the Swifts failed to keep the momentum up in the second half. Now, they will face a tough challenge competing against Diamonds duo Steph Wood, Cara Koenen, and South African star Karla Pretorius.

Despite only one win to begin the season, one member of the Swifts line-up has performed exceptionally well, considering Helen Housby’s standards for herself set at lofty heights. Being incredibly efficient in the final five minutes of each quarter, she has already nailed 19 supershots (out of 31 attempts) to begin the year.

Sitting behind Sasha Glasgow and Sophie Dwyer, Housby could have shot more two-pointers if it wasn’t for an abandoned game against the Adelaide Thunderbirds in Round Two. Her best performances have been in the past two weeks which have added heavily to her tally.

Even without her long-range shooting, Housby has stood up in the absence of Sam Wallace, been a mentor to 19-year-old Sophie Fawns, whilst being an effective partner with Jamaican legend Romelda Aiken-George.

The 2018 Commonwealth Gold Medalist has scored 62 goals out of 66 attempts in regular time, with three of those misses coming against the Thunderbirds. This seen her earn praise from NSW Swifts’ long-term coach Briony Akle.

“She’s Helen Housby,” coach Briony Akle said.

“I think she’s got a presence but she’s certainly also got a target on her back.

“We’ve got to take that pressure off her and be able to share that load with those two points but she thrives in it. She loves the pressure so we’ll keep at it.”

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Akle also hopes to see the partnership of Housby and new signing Romelda Aiken-George start to flourish in the next couple of games with momentum taking them through the rest of the season.

Joining from the Queensland Firebirds, Aiken-George won consecutive state league premierships with the Firebirds in 2015 and 2016.

Although the two of Aiken-George and Housby have only played four games with each other, they have shown their potential as a shooting duo. As time progresses so will their bond and relationship in the attacking third.

“We certainly hope so that it’ll keep growing,” Akle added.

“There’s certainly something wrong if it doesn’t [especially with] more minutes at training. ‘Rom’ [Romelda Aiken-George] has done a remarkable job, having a baby seven months ago and going back to the best league of the world. She’ll only get better and better.”

The NSW Swifts face the Sunshine Coast Lightning on Sunday afternoon where they will eye their second win of the season.

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