16/04/2024
After claiming the championship in 2021, can the NSW Swifts make the most of their success to go back-to-back and make it three in four years?

The NSW Swifts claimed their second championship in three years last season to solidify their position as of the Super Netball’s powerhouses. Will it be a premiership hangover, or the title defence to dream of in 2022?

Last season:

It couldn’t have gone much better for the Swifts in 2021, finishing second on only percentage behind state rivals Giants Netball and claiming the championship.

The rivalry was well and truly heated up, with just five goals separating them in two match across the finals series.

While they lost some of their bench depth elsewhere in the signing period, it is still a very strong Swifts side that will look to defend the championship in 2022.

What’s made waves in the pre-season?

21-year old former Vixens midcourter Allie Smith joins the Swifts for the 2022 season. She is a specialist wing defence who has come from a high performance environment, and will provide a spark off the bench.

Smith will provide the depth for the midcourt and could even prove to be the best recruit of the offseason. With the combination of Paige Hadley and Maddy Proud working so well together, she will settle them and allow Tayla Fraser to be that burst player.

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What needs to change?

Not much has to change for continued success for the Swifts, having won two of the last three premierships and only adding to their team with more talent and depth.

One area that they had trouble with was due to this depth and talent in the team with the rolling substitutions. They rotated through the playing squad during the game constantly, which meant it was hard for the team to settle.

This happened especially often through the midcourt positions with Hadley, Proud, Nat Haythornthwaite and Fraser.

If Akle can use the substitutions to bring energy and spark to the team but make sure she lets the team gel on court, the Swifts will be a force again in 2022.

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Who’s in for a big season?

Captain Maddy Proud is always in the frame as a big player for the Swifts in any case, but after being left out of the Diamonds team as of late, she will still wish to prove that she can perform at that level.

She will focus on being a dominant midcourter for her Swifts with the hope that national selection will take care of itself.

Proud will also be hoping to ensure that her team will have a good year to mount a championship defence, and could rise to the level that saw her take out the Swifts’ MVP award in 2017.

The games that matter:

As is the way with a traditional rivalry, one of the highlights for the Swifts will be their game against their cross-town rivals Giants Netball. This will open their season in front of their home fans at the Ken Rosewall Arena.

Added to this game is the fact that it is also a 2021 grand final rematch, with the Giants looking to atone for their thrilling loss in the last game of September.

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The game after this Round 1 match is similarly exciting. This is the match-up between the Swifts and the Melbourne Vixens at Ken Rosewall Arena, where the Vixens will be hungry for an early scalp against a quality opponent.

Ladder prediction:

The Swifts will finish on top or in second position on the ladder, setting up a prime position to go back-to-back.

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