Jess Anstiss in action for West Coast Fever

Jess Anstiss in action in West Coast Fever's 25 goal thrashing of the Adelaide Thunderbirds. (Photo: West Coast Fever/Twitter)

After a tough season for Fever's vice captain Jess Anstiss, she detailed her preparation for finals and the team's mindset before their finals.

This Suncorp Super Netball season has been full of frustration and learnings for West Coast Fever’s vice-captain Jess Anstiss.

Sidelined with a foot injury she only managed seven games this season returning in the final regular-season game against the Adelaide Thunderbirds.

She spoke to the media on Thursday about the extent of her preparation for finals and the team’s mindset before their major semi-final clash against the Melbourne Vixens.

“I had a fair bit of confidence that I’d definitely be able to get out there again and towards the end of the season I was hoping it was going to be earlier than round 14,” she said.

“I definitely knew that I was going to get back out there and play.

“[My foot] actually pulled up better than expected to be honest and even during the game as well I didn’t really feel [the injury] so like I said better than I was expecting but still really nice to finally get out there on the weekend.”

She continued to explain the extent of her preparation for her return including how she kept up her fitness having to be ‘off legs’ for a month or more as part of her recovery.

“Basically the last month and a half, the assault bike has been the best friend, so I actually feel fitter than coming off the court work and those kinds of sessions,” she explained.

“I was pleasantly surprised at how I went on the weekend in terms of fitness and felt like I could have played a full game and kept going if I needed to so that was a nice feeling.

“It was pretty tough, I hadn’t missed an SSN game since I made my debut in 2017 so I wasn’t used to sitting on the sidelines.

“It did definitely let me see a different side of things and how frustrating it can be as a coach when your athletes don’t listen to you.

“I think in a way, I tried to look at the positives and see it from a different perspective and seeing it from the side of the court when the coaches are asking for things out there and in training.

“It was tough but I had small little goals along the way to get back to where I was going and once I knew we had made and secured finals that I would be able to come back in and play towards the back half of the season that really got me through,”.

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Jess Anstiss on her return against the Adelaide Thunderbirds (Photo: West Coast Fever/Twitter)

Making the Grand Final in Perth

Since Netball Australia sold off the SSN Grand Final to Perth regardless of the teams participating, the Fever have been eyeing off the big dance.

From the outside, there is seemingly pressure heaped on the team to ensure that the spectacle is still there come the last game of the year but Anstiss says the team is more than prepared for that.

“The team is very excited, the vibes this week have been awesome and all the girls are up and about,” Anstiss explains.

“I think we’ve been able to celebrate all those little wins along the way and like I’ve said we’ve spoken about finals this year and now that it’s real and it’s here, we are definitely excited for it.

“I think you’ve got to use the excitement of finals to your advantage to play and knowing that the grand final is secured in Perth is, like you don’t want to get ahead of yourself but it’s definitely a huge motivator for me and I’m sure the team as well to make sure we can secure getting into that grand final.

“It is a balancing act but I think definitely using it to our advantage is what we are trying to do.

“Rudi (Ellis) actually asked me the other day, ‘you’ve played in most finals haven’t you?’ and it made me realise that being part of this club since 2017, I’ve only missed two seasons of finals and as a group, everyone has actually played in finals, other than Rudi and I think that’s huge knowing that we have that experience amongst the group and that will definitely help us across the line during this series,” Anstiss explained.

Preparing for the Vixens

The upcoming clash in the major semi-final against the Melbourne Vixens looms as a tantalising match-up for SSN fans but Anstiss maintains that they are prepared for the loud Vixens home crowd.

“The team is very up and about and especially heading over to Melbourne and coming against the Vixens, we haven’t been able to beat them this year so we have the confidence and the belief within ourselves that we can get over there and get the job done,” she said.

“I think [our weakness has] definitely been our starts, I think the last two times we’ve played the Vixens we’ve had slow starts.

“[After that] we’ve been goal for goal throughout the game, so we know we’ve got to start strong and we can’t give them an inch at all.

“At the start, we are even in the game so we know we can definitely go goal for goal with them for a whole game so just making sure that we have those strong starts is definitely it.

“I think that [the Vixens] have a great home crowd as well, pretty similar to what we have here at RAC Arena and so we know it’s going to be loud.

“I guess we can let our netball do the talking and hopefully silence that crowd early on but we are used to that playing several away games and knowing when we play at home how hostile it can be.”

The winner of this major semi-final will go through to the SSN Grand Final to be played in Perth with the loser given a second chance against the winners of the minor semi-final between GIANTS Netball and the Collingwood Magpies.

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