Coming from the NSW Swifts last season, Sophie Garbin is hoping her first season at the Collingwood Magpies brings a premiership.
Having won two premierships with the Swifts in 2019 and 2021, Garbin made the move for more opportunity at the Magpies after having a few break-out years including a Diamonds nod.
Before the finals series began, the Magpies’ goal-attack spoke exclusively with The Inner Sanctum about her finals experience, her debut and 50-game milestone, and the season so far.
“It was great, I’ve been very lucky not many players get to play in finals, let alone win two premierships at such a young age,” Garbin said.
“I think the first one I probably didn’t enjoy it enough, I think we just won it and I think we should have celebrated it a bit more, I think that’s what we did the second time is really reflected and celebrated winning because it is so hard to come by.
“I am just looking forward to getting out there and playing finals again and I think some of the girls haven’t played finals before in this group so it’s really exciting for them. I’m hoping we just enjoy it and get a few finals games.”
When speaking about her extensive finals experience at Suncorp Super Netball level, Garbin said that she hopes to be the only player to go back-to-back this season. After also leaving the NSW Swifts, Lauren Moore (GIANTS Netball) looms as the other player that can achieve this feat with a grand final win.
“I was actually messaging Loz Moore yesterday, I think I was saying that there are the only two players in the league that can go back-to-back and that’s me and her and hopefully it’s me,” she said.
“It’s going to be interesting going with a different team and a different position. Last year I think when we were in finals we were in the major semi so there was not as much pressure on winning that first game.
“I’m hoping that I can bring the experience that I’ve had in finals to help calm the team down a bit then just relax and enjoy it, that’s the main thing I think is to make sure we enjoy it and I think we will play our best netball.
“We are just trying to enjoy it and keep things as normal as much as possible, we know it’s not the same as a normal game because it’s a final and there is a lot more going on. It’s going to be more physical, the umpiring is going to come into it and there are lots of little things that are different but we are just trying to enjoy it, stick to our game plan, and embrace it all.”
The battle for fourth position on the ladder
The lead-up to the Suncorp Super Netball finals series was full of intrigue when the last regular round game between the Melbourne Vixens and the Collingwood Magpies would decide the fate of the Magpies and the Swifts.
Given Garbin’s loyalty, it was difficult for the last spot to be given to either her new team or her former side and with the close loss, they suffered it was enough for the Magpies to go into fourth position.
She maintains she was happy with the result given they will play finals this season, however, it was bittersweet for her to kill her teammates’ chance at going for their second premiership in a row.
“It’s been pretty good, it’s nice to be going into another finals series and it’s a little bittersweet knocking the old team out but I’m okay with that,” she says.
Amongst the chaos of the result in the final game, it was also an interesting week given the players out through COVID health and safety protocols. Star midcourter Ash Brazill, Jamaican defender Jodi-Ann Ward, first-year squad member Maggie Lind as well as head coach Nicole Richardson were ruled out, which was tough considering they were still in the finals race.
“I think Braz [Ash Brazill] will be happy since she hates training, she’s had a week off training which will be good for her,” Garbin said.
“I think everyone’s just excited to get back and get the full team back, I think we still have a few training partners travelling with us but to have Braz [Brazill], Jodi [Jodi-Ann Ward] and Mags [Maggie Lind], and Richo (Nicole Richardson), [I’ve] got to mention her, to have them all back in the group, I think they all bring so much and hopefully we can get the job done.”
50 games and a club debut
When looking at Garbin’s time at the Magpies so far, one highlight that stands out is her debut game which also was her 50th national league game. Playing against the Adelaide Thunderbirds in Adelaide, the Magpies were defeated in a close encounter, however, Garbin enjoyed the milestone all the same.
Playing 49 games at the Swifts, she reflected on what game 50 brought in the SSN.
“It was a nice time to reflect on the last 49 games and playing them at the Swifts was nice,” Garbin said.
“Having the debut with the 50-game milestone, it was a good time to reflect on how far I’ve come and changed as well, moving to the Magpies and starting there.”
Magpies circle combinations form
Garbin reflected on the connection she built with her teammates to turn around the season after three losses against the Adelaide Thunderbirds, West Coast Fever and NSW Swifts in the first three rounds. The losing form was proven to be temporary as the Magpies won six games and lost only five more of their following games to finish fourth.
She explains that the group was finding their feet during the early portion of the season with a new look shooting circle in effect. Shimona Nelson has been the goal shooter primarily with Garbin taking the court for the first 10 minutes of each quarter with super shot specialist Gabby Sinclair taking the goal attack bib for the super shot period.
“It probably took a bit longer than we would have liked to click on the court but it’s good that we’ve started to click at the right end of the season,” Garbin said.
“I think it was just building on the connection, obviously it’s a bit of a different game because when I’m out there I’m not as speedy as some of the other players in the team so just working on that timing and that link.
“I think we didn’t change that much, I think we just started to execute what we were doing for a bit longer than we were in those first couple of games.”
Playing more goal-attack
In her time at the Swifts, Garbin played goal attack behind England international Helen Housby or goal shooter behind Trinidad and Tobago goal shooter Sam Wallace. For the most part, she only played portions of games and is more accustomed to playing goal attack in short bursts as she plays more like a traditional goal shooter.
Garbin explains what work she has done to get fitter to play more time at goal attack and how she has gotten more familiar with the Magpies’ game plan.
“I think I played a fair bit of goal attack at the Swifts my last couple of years but not consistently and with the amount of court time I’m playing here, I’ve had a little taste there,” she said.
“It’s been good to get in there and I feel like I’ve built each week and building the connection with the people around me.
“[I’m] just working on things and more just the smarts of it and not just running around, I was a bit of a headless chook at the start but now I’m learning the game a bit more and seeing how I can work well with other players in the team.”
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