Being no certainty to feature in the green and gold dress in Birmingham, Sunday Aryang is using the confidence that the selectors and coaches have shown her to prove she deserves Commonwealth Games squad selection.
Fighting for a spot on the plane to the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, Aryang is under no illusions that she will need to consistently deliver her best form.
Her form in the Suncorp Super Netball has been good in recent rounds, although her start to the season was not good enough and this made her doubt her ability at times.
She fronted the media after learning of her selection for the squad.
“It means a lot to be able to keep that position in the squad, I think it’s something that I’m always looking forward to and something I want to be able to continue to do,” Aryang said.
“I think the start of my season was a little bit shaky, I think I was a bit harsh on myself at the start and I kind of started to overthink it a bit.
“I wasn’t thinking about [the] Commonwealth Games or squads or anything like that. I was just not happy with my performance at that time and that was all I was thinking about, just how I can improve and hopefully come back the next game and do better.
“I definitely think that this position in the Diamonds squad has definitely given me a different look on it, I think that the selectors obviously saw something within me that they were happy with.”
Her form has definitely been shaky at the beginning of the season, which could be attributed to being disrupted by the team trying new defensive combinations and the new Fever coach Dan Ryan getting used to his team’s formation.
She played primarily against a quality attacking trio in Sophie Fawns, Helen Housby, and Kelly Singleton in Round 5, which was her best performance of the year. She had nine centre pass receives, one rebound, three intercepts and five gains.
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After being a part of the West Coast Fever’s extended squad, Aryang debuted in 2019 in the Suncorp Super Netball League. She has now played over 30 games playing with Fever captain Courtney Bruce to form a rock-solid defensive duo.
As well as being happy with her progression through the Fever system so far, Aryang spoke about the role her family played in her journey. This includes her sister Ruth, who is the under 19 Western Australian vice-captain that has even followed her sister to the Fever.
“The journey has been good for me over the last few years, I think they brought me into the Fever environment trying to build my skills, trying to build my defence, my attacking, all the stuff to hopefully try and slot me into the team and I think it’s worked well,” Aryang said.
“Yeah the family is super excited, I think they are just happy to see how far I’ve come with my netball and also to see my sister follow in my footsteps as well. I am definitely looking forward to that time.”
Former Fever coach Stacey Marinkovich has been a massive source of support and advice to Aryang who credits her with assisting her growth as a netballer. Marinkovich has again paired up with Aryang in the Diamonds set-up as the head coach of the side.
“Stacey’s definitely been a big help, she’s given me advice in that wing defence position, she’s been a great support for me when I’m on and she always gives me tips and stuff to be able to combat that wing attack,” Aryang said.
“[I’m] looking forward to joining Stacey (Marinkovich) again, I think she was there when I started my journey with Fever, she’s helped me grow a lot with my netball so it’s great to get back under her and get started.”
An inspiration to Aryang is her Fever captain and now fellow Diamonds squad member, Courtney Bruce. Now having played over 100 national league games, Bruce is one of the best goalkeepers in Australia at the moment. Playing alongside someone of that calibre, Aryang believes playing alongside Bruce has helped her confidence and skill.
With the Diamonds coaches and selectors purposefully selecting combinations within Suncorp Super Netball sides, it is a possibility that this strong synergy between Bruce and Aryang will translate to the Diamonds team in Birmingham.
“Yeah it’s great having Courtney in the squad, I think we’ve got that connection in the defensive end but also we can build connections with others around us. I think Courtney’s definitely that role model for me, I think she’s someone I can go to really if I need anything so it’s great if I have her with me,” Aryang said.
“Yeah it does give me a lot of confidence, we are quite used to playing with each other, we’ve got that connection between the two of us but then also being able to build connections within the defensive circle in the Diamonds squad as well.”
Playing wing attack
A big change that coach Dan Ryan has brought into the Fever team this year is moving Aryang into wing defence on occasion. This is used to bring more versatility to the side and expose her athleticism and reach on smaller opponents.
“I think it’s definitely a big change going from goal defence to wing defence, I guess wing defence you are on a lot quicker, speedier and shorter attackers which is definitely different to in the circle,” Aryang said.
“I think with wing defence you just have to have that footwork to be able to just stop them from hitting the circle edge and it’s been a big change but I’m enjoying it.”
This move will pay dividends with Bruce being a natural goalkeeper and young defender Rudi Ellis’ form warranting more court time.
In the 2021 season, Aryang came into her own and started to be noticed outside of the Fever camp. She recorded 54 gains, 50 deflections and 24 intercepts during the year which helped her to earn a spot in the Australian Diamonds squad. Her efforts last year also helped her win the West Coast Fever’s People’s Choice Award.
This form from last year begs the question, where can Aryang improve and how has she improved? She believes that her footwork and attacking style has kept her in Diamonds’ contention and the hours in the gym have paid off.
“I think that it’s probably my footwork in the circle, I think my attacking out of defence has definitely improved a lot throughout the years. I think that I’ve got this different style of defence that I think they might be interested in,” Aryang said.
“So my off-season work in the gym, our strength and conditioning coach has given a program for us all to do, I think a lot of the program that we do does a lot with power and strength.
“I guess that helps with you know that footwork in the circle and also that change of that direction and that change of pace to be able to go for those intercepts or to be able to get those tips.”
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