2018 Final Ladder Position – 5th

Head Coach – Simone McKinnis

2019 Gains

Lara Dunkley (replacing Tayla Honey)

Tayla Honey (now injured)

Caitlin Thwaites (Collingwood Magpies)

Ine-Mari Venter (Gauteng Jaguars, SA Brutal Fruit Premier League)

2019 Losses

Samantha Gooden

Emma Ryde

Khao Watts (retired)

2019 Full Team: Kadie-Ann Dehaney (GK, GS), Lara Dunkley (C, WD, WA), Renae Ingles (WD), Emily Mannix (GK, GD), Kate Moloney (Captain, C, WD), Tegan Philip (GA, GS), Caitlin Thwaites (GS, GA), Ine-Mari Venter (GS, GA), Liz Watson (WA, C), Jo Weston (GD, WD, GK).

2019 Training Partners: Rudi Ellis, Jacqui Newton, Allie Smith

The Vixens are out to prove a point. Boasting five current Australian Diamonds squad members, the Vixens have gone from being the dark horses to the ones to watch. They missed out on finals in 2018 and will be determined not to do the same in 2019. Kate Moloney has again been announced to captain the team in 2019. Commencing her third year at the helm, Moloney leads the strong on-court communication the Vixens are known for.

The loss of Mwai Kumwenda to a devastating ACL injury late in 2018 saw the Vixens looking for a replacement shooter and they have picked up two in Caitlin Thwaites (surprisingly unwanted by the Collingwood Magpies) and Ine-Mari Venter (of the South African SPAR Proteas).

Diamonds sharpshooter Caitlin Thwaites is back in Vixens colours. Photo: Simon Leonard

Thwaites is a steady performer returning to the Vixens after being a member of the premiership winning team in 2009. She has worked on-court with Tegan Philip during her time at the Diamonds and was the best player for the underperforming Magpies in 2017 and runner up in 2018. If Thwaites can build an outstanding connection with the experienced Philip, the Vixens could be unstoppable.

Venter is an up-and-coming shooter in South Africa, previously with the Gauteng Jaguars in the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League in South Africa. Venter’s talents were clearly on show at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and will make a range of combinations available in the Vixens shooting circle.

The attacking line, with the exception of Kumwenda, is unchanged as it has been for the last two years. Moloney, Liz Watson and Philip have a connection practised over seasons in both the Vixens and the Australian Diamonds. Watson was impressive for the Vixens last year, earning the Sharelle McMahon Award. She also performed well internationally, ending up a well-deserved winner of the Liz Ellis Diamond. Moloney and Philip will be keen to show their best ahead of final selection for the Netball World Cup.

Midcourt star Liz Watson won the prestigious Liz Ellis Diamond award in 2018. Photo: Simon Leonard

In their defensive line, the Vixens have the luxury of two current Australian Diamonds in Emily Mannix and Jo Weston, along with an exceptional young talent in Kadie-Ann Dehaney. Dehaney was required throughout last season when Mannix broke her finger and she was well and truly up to the task. A tall, smart player, Dehaney plays particularly well against holding shooters and racked up the defensive stats in her few games. Weston led the defence end last year and her leadership on court is key to their success.

Renae Ingles also returns to the team. Initially brought in as a replacement player for Chloe Watson, Ingles was good enough to earn a Diamonds call-up at the end of the season, but eventually opted out of international duties. Ingles has not lost any of the fire that saw her the starting wing defence for the Diamonds for many years. Her unique ability to shut down the strongest players will be vital to the Vixens’ success.

Renae Ingles has not missed a beat since returning to elite netball. Photo: Simon Leonard

The pre-season has not been kind to the younger players. Selected as one of the ten, Tayla Honey will miss the season after rupturing her Achilles tendon. After a solid performance at preseason tournaments, Lara Dunkley has been elevated from training partner to replace her. Training partner and talented young shooter Rahni Samason has also been ruled out for the year after rupturing her ACL.

The Vixens’ success may well depend on their ability to adapt to their new combinations in attack. The loss of a player of Kumwenda’s calibre was always going to be a big blow, but the Vixens have historically been very good at finding new talent after injuries hit the team (Liz Watson and Tegan Philip are just two examples). One would be remiss not to back the Vixens for a finals showing in 2019.