2018 Final Ladder Position – 6th

 

Head Coach – Briony Akle

 

2019 Gains

Natalie Haythornthwaite (Wasps Netball, UK),

Lauren Moore (elevated training partner)

2019 Losses

Abbey McCulloch (injury)

 

2019 Full Squad – Lauren Moore (GD/GK), Natalie Haythornthwaite (GA/WA), Sam Wallace (GS/GA), Maddy Turner (GD/WD), Maddy Proud (C/WA) (Captain), Sarah Klau (GK/GD), Helen Housby (GA/GS), Paige Hadley (WA/C/WD)(Vice-Captain), Kate Eddy (GD/GK/WD) Sophie Garbin (GA/GS)

2019 Training Partners – Sophie Halpin (WD), Tayla Fraser (C), Kelly Singleton (GA), Matisse Letherbarrow (GS), Claire O’Brien (WA/C)

It’s hard not to get excited about the NSW Swifts in 2019. Over the last two years in the Suncorp Super Netball Competition they have grown in strength, confidence and in their ability to match it with the best.

They were finding their feet in their inaugural season of the competition, and came away with only three wins in 2017, despite some very spirited performances. In 2018, with new coach Briony Akle on board, they managed to notch up six wins and a draw.

With just a few more wins under their belt, the Swifts could challenge for the finals. That sounds easy enough but with eight games being decided by one point in 2018 and two draws throughout the season, every win is extremely hard fought, and absolutely nothing is given away for free in this competition.

Nat Haythornthwaite (Swifts) taking the ball in front of Geva Mentor (Magpies).
Photo: Marcela Massey

The NSW Swifts maintain a largely unchanged line up in 2019. They start the season with two English Roses and Commonwealth Gold medallists in their team: Natalie Haythornthwaite, who proved to be a handy addition to the team late last year, and Helen Housby, who will likely reprise her role as their starting GA. Housby has grown tremendously since playing in Australia and if she can continue to build on her performances, she will be a serious headache for opponents. Haythornthwaite brings a fresh style of play to the Swifts line up, and has shown that she is able to step up on big occasions, whether that be at WA or GA. Both are flying high in confidence after their Commonwealth Games win, and they will be keen to add a World Cup to their trophy cabinet later in the year.

Import Sam Wallace has a super chilled exterior, but will have to work hard for the starting position at GS this year with youngster Sophie Garbin hot on her heels. Garbin was impressive last season and made a real impact whenever she was brought off the bench. Wallace and Garbin are both highly accurate shooters, using skilful timing to create space in the circle. It will interesting to watch them tussle it out for a starting spot this year.

The Swifts have elevated Lauren Moore into their squad of 10 this season. The 21 year old is no stranger to the Swifts franchise as she’s has been a training partner for the last two seasons. She comes into the team at the expense of 2018 captain and fan favourite, Abbey McCulloch who is unable to play this season due to a knee injury.  Moore is a young and exciting talent, who has nothing to lose in her debut season. At 184cm, she brings something new for her opponents to contend with.

Sam Wallace (Swifts) and Laura Geitz (Firebirds). Photo: Marcela Massey.

Moore will look to Maddy Turner and Sarah Klau for guidance in the defence end. Turner and Klau have developed a solid understanding as GD and GK respectively, and their partnership continued to grow last season. There will be high expectations on this defensive duo this year, as they look to take the Swifts into a top four spot. Turner is a ‘tracker’ and will wear her opponent like a glove for 60 minutes, while Klau, who stands at 190cm, is a great reader of the game. Klau has caught the eye of Samsung Diamonds head coach Lisa Alexander, who has named her in the current World Cup squad. Moore will push them for a starting spot which makes this in-house rivalry something to keep an eye on.

Another exciting youngster in the defence lineup for the Swifts is Kate Eddy. A triple threat, she can play WD, GD, GK, and is the player most likely to fill the position of WD this season in the absence of McCulloch. She has an imposing wing span, and picked up 19 deflections last season. So impressive was Eddy in 2018 that she and Garbin were named in the Suncorp 2018 Rookie Standouts ‘Team of the Future’. At 22, Eddy will look to make a name for herself in this competition and with leadership skills that saw her appointed vice-captain at the most recent Netball World Youth Cup, she will be on the radar as one to watch in 2019.

Kate Eddy (Swifts). Photo: May Bailey.

Maddy Proud and Paige Hadley have been tasked with the roles of captain and vice captain of the Swifts this season. They are both exceptional midcourters in the positions of C and WA, with Hadley also a very handy WD. They are a strong choice to lead the team. At 25, Proud shows maturity beyond her years and Hadley, who is only a year older at 26, has a wealth of international experience and has recently been elevated to the Diamonds squad for the upcoming World Cup in July. They are both extremely tough competitors and will be great role models for their team. If Proud and Hadley can stay injury free this year, we should expect big things from them as they will thrive under the extra responsibility of leadership amongst their troops. With 756 circle feeds between them last year they will look to build on their formidable combination.

The Swifts can take some confidence going into the start of the season after a solid three wins from four starts in the Suncorp #TeamGirls Cup that was played in early March. Even more impressive was that the wins came without Captain Maddy Proud who was unwell. The toughness of Paige Hadley was on display as she sustained a head injury on day one that required stitches – she was back on court the next day.

The season this year will be interrupted after round 9 for the World Cup that is being played in Liverpool England, between the 12-21 July. How teams handle this disruption will go a long way to deciding the top four when the season resumes. The Swifts will almost certainly lose Housby and Haythornthwaite to the England Roses team, and Wallace to Trinidad and Tobago, while Paige Hadley is a real chance to be included in the Australian Diamonds team.

Barring injury to their players at the World Cup the Swifts’ run home will start on July 27 against West Coast Fever. They will then have to face the Sunshine Coast Lightning, Melbourne Vixens, Magpies Netball and the Queensland Firebirds. The Swifts will have to pull out all stops to ensure that they can make finals.

Paige Hadley looking into Sophie Garbin (Photo: Danny Dalton)

While they are a young group, coach Briony Akle has been clear that this narrative will no longer be used as an excuse for this team. They may have been thrown into the Suncorp Super Netball deep end in 2017, but they now boast up to four international players in their starting seven. There are plenty more who, if they have good seasons, could contest as international players in the future.

The Swifts have all the ingredients to have a great 2019. Perhaps now it will come down to the belief that they can not only mix it with the best, but that they can beat them as well. That could be the difference in the close contests that will inevitably be in front of them in the coming months.

Do not take your eyes off the NSW Swifts this year; they have fire in their bellies from a string of missed opportunities in the last two seasons, they are a proud club and they are ready to be heavyweights in the Suncorp Super Netball competition.

 

 

 

 

 

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