SSN Signing Period: Collingwood Magpies add front end firepower

Collingwood Magpies Super Netball Squad 2022
Collingwood Magpies Super Netball Squad 2022. Images: Suncorp Super Netball

The Collingwood Magpies have bolstered their attacking end with the addition of a two-time premiership player and an elevated training partner during the SSN Signing Period.

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After a quiet week to start the Free Agency period, the Collingwood Magpies swooped in dropping their two acquisitions on Friday evening and following up on Saturday morning with the full team. 

Since the announcements, Collingwood head coach Nicole Richardson has spent a fortnight working with new recruit Sophie Garbin and Ash Brazill in Diamonds camp, but how will she structure her Super Netball team in 2022?

The Inner Sanctum takes a look at what the signings mean for Collingwood and how the team could line up next season.

Signings

Retained Players Added PlayersDeparted Players
Ash BrazillMaggie LindKalifa McCollin
Gabrielle SinclairSophie GarbinMelissa Bragg
Geva Mentor  
Jacqui Newton  
Jodi-Ann Ward  
Kelsey Browne  
Molly Jovic  
Shimona Nelson  

Biggest Signing: Sophie Garbin

The marquee signing for the Magpies this off-season was Australian Diamond Sophie Garbin.

Originally from West Australia, there was plenty of speculation about where she would end up when the shooter announced that she was leaving the NSW Swifts shortly after a second premiership with the side.

A little over a week later Garbin was named Collingwood’s newest addition, alongside elevated training partner Maggie Lind. 

Garbin has a strong presence in the goal circle, holding her ground against the likes of Courtney Bruce and Shamera Sterling during games in the 2021 season. 

Against the Fever in Round 9, Garbin scored 31 goals from 33 attempts and led the team to a one goal win. She backed this up with a 33 goal performance against the Thunderbirds in Round 13, shooting at 89 per cent. 

She is accurate under the post and isn’t afraid to take a long shot, which the Magpies can utilise throughout normal play and the Super Shot period.

At the Swifts, Garbin was riding the bench as international players Helen Housby and Sam Wallace starred, but at the Magpies, she’ll be after more court time. Given where the Magpies finished this year, a shake up might be what is needed in the front end. 

Biggest Departure: Melissa Bragg

In a surprise move, the Collingwood Magpies did not offer Melissa Bragg a contract for the 2022 season after four years in the program. 

Bragg was a training partner in 2018 and made her Super Netball debut in Round 5, elevated to cover an injury. She spent 2019 in the same role before earning a full-time contract in 2020.

The defensive midcourter’s journey at the Magpies continued in 2021, but ends after 26 games at the club. Her spot has been taken by elevated training partner Maggie Lind. 

Projected Starting Seven

The defensive end is pretty well set for the Magpies, with captain Geva Mentor to continue to lead from the goal keeper position. She’ll be joined again by 2021 Club Champion Jodi-Ann Ward. The Jamaican also re-signed for two years and will continue to impress in goal defence.

In wing defence, Magpies fans will expect to see Ash Brazill. She will be hoping to replicate her 2021 form, which saw her return to the Australian Diamonds setup. It’ll be a tight change-over from AFLW to Netball, but Brazill will be ready to take her place in the starting seven.

Kelsey Browne and Molly Jovic will be in the black and white stripes for another two years and will likely take the other two midcourt starting positions. This pair can be switched around at any moment, with Brazill also running in centre. However, for Round 1 Jovic in centre and Browne in wing attack can be pencilled in. 

Where things become very interesting is in the shooting circle, with Garbin, Gabrielle Sinclair, and Shimona Nelson fighting for the two remaining positions.

How this trio is arranged will depend largely on how the match-up works with the oppositions’ defence, with coach Nicole Richardson able to change it up in several ways. 

In Round 1 though, Nelson will hold as the goal shooter in the circle and Garbin will play out at goal attack. 

Shimona Nelson takes a shot against the Vixens’ Kadie-Ann Dehaney in Round 11. (Photo: Dani Brown)

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Shooting Group

Garbin joins the fairly established connection between Nelson and Sinclair in the goal circle, taking the position of Trinidad and Tobago goaler Kalifa McCollin. Where McCollin saw very minimal court-time in 2021, more rotation can be expected in this goal circle through 2022. 

If Nelson is the starting goal shooter, the coaching team will have to decide whether the height of Garbin or the speed of Sinclair is more valuable in each match. 

However, Garbin’s strength against particular goal keepers in the league could see the former Swift take the goal shooter bib from Nelson and create a goal circle pairing with Sinclair.  

There could also be regular changes at the 10 minute mark of each quarter if the Magpies wish to utilise the Super Shot period. A combination of Garbin in goal shooter and Sinclair at goal attack could be the preferred option, with Garbin a more confident shooter from long range than Nelson. 

While she had less opportunity than Nelson in 2021, in 2020 Garbin scored Super Shots at 55 per cent, while Nelson scored at 44 per cent and improved this to 50 per cent in 2021. 

The most intriguing decisions early in the season will be the ones made about how this shooting group rotates. 

Midcourt Group

The elevation of Maggie Lind, a reward for her effort and commitment to the training partner program, sees a different setup in the midcourt. 

Where Bragg was a defensive midcourter, Lind is more suited to the attacking end. It means that Brazill is likely to continue working away at wing defence and play a role in stopping the ball from entering the opposition’s goal third. 

Jovic has been working on her midcourt craft alongside experienced duo Brazill and Browne and improved over the last two years to become a strong force in the middle, and now Lind has more opportunity to do the same. 

Brazill, Browne and Jovic will likely fill the starting midcourt positions, although exactly how they line up could change regularly depending on how the players are transitioning the ball through the court. 

Lind’s strength on the circle edge, feeding the ball into the goals, is a key part of her game the Magpies will draw on throughout the season. 

Ash Brazill will continue to play a key role at wing defence for the Magpies; she is the only defensive midcourter in the Magpies side. (Photo: Dani Brown)

Defensive Group

It’ll be an international defensive circle once again, with reigning Club Champion Ward and captain Mentor set to lead this end of the court. 

In her 15th season of netball in Australia, Mentor will be after the form that she had in the back half of the 2021 season. Injury troubles throughout the year kept Mentor quieter than usual early in the season and this only showed how important she is to the Magpie dynamics. 

Coming off the bench for the Magpies will be Jacqui Newton. The defender joined the club in 2021, moving across from the Vixens after three years as a training partner, and played in nine matches this season. 

She averaged one rebound and 2.3 deflections across those nine games, including a strong performance in Mentor’s absence against the Giants in Round 2.

There is some additional versatility in this defensive group with Newton and Ward able to push out of the circle to the wing defence position, increasing the height and putting additional pressure on the opposition’s transition into the circle.  

Collingwood has retained its core starting seven from the 2021 season, with a couple of nice additions in Garbin and Lind. The club will be looking for a fast start in 2022 with the aim of returning to the top four for the first time since 2019.

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