NSW Swifts Squad Analysis
The Swifts have every reason to feel aggrieved. They could easily have found themselves back to back premiers and go into this new Australian Netball league as the side to beat. Instead they lost two agonising Grand Finals to the Queensland Firebirds and then found their squad decimated as stars Sharni Layton, Caitlin Thwaites, Kim Green, Susan Pettitt, Steph Wood and Laura Langman found new homes.
So what to make of the Swifts 2017 roster. Well the first thing to note is there are a lot of unknowns and that is brought out most obviously in the shooting circle. Sammy Wallace and Helen Housby are likely to be the starting shooters and will both come in brand new to Australian domestic netball. The pair do have reasonable credentials and although unknown to many in Australia, may yet form a formidable shooting duo. Sammy Wallace is the Trinidad & Tobago GS and fresh off a win as the English Super League player of the year whilst Helen Housby is a talented GA who has been on the fringes of the English national side for some time. Backing the pair up is Amy Sommerville who showed potential in limited minutes for the Swifts backing up Thwaites last year. We would expect Wallace and Housby to take some time to adapt to the tougher Australian competition and ultimately, they are rated as one of the weaker shooting combinations. However, if the pair can develop to make the Swifts a 55+ goal side that will make them far more competitive than expected.
Through the mid-court is the Swifts strength with the highly under-rated Madeleine Proud (not under-rated by the TBP model which considered Proud the number 1 Centre in 2016) flanked by regular Diamond representative Paige Hadley and Abbey McCulloch. Claire O’Brien will back that trio up and as a regular member of junior NSW and Australian representative teams, O’Brien has the credentials to make the step-up to Super Netball. The Swifts mid-court doesn’t quite have the star-power of the awesome Magpies mid-court, however should be more than competitive with every other mid-court in the competition.
Defensively, Maddy Turner did an outstanding job coming into the Swifts side at GD for Julie Corletto in 2016 and will now have to step up as the leader of the defence in 2017. Sarah Klau has come across from Adelaide and will join Turner in the starting defence. Klau has some experience in the ANZ Championship but has yet to be able to convert her impressive junior career into senior competition, struggling to be the lowest rated Australian based GK in 2016. Young 190cm defender Emma Tickner will make her debut to back up Klau and Turner and could well find herself with some court-time with the Swifts expected to struggle defensively in 2017.
Swifts Predicted 2017 Position: 8th
2017 Objective: Avoiding the wooden spoon and getting invaluable experience into their suite of talented youngsters
Player to watch: Maddy Turner - We are tipping Turner as a future Diamond. There is little doubt that the competition lacks all-star GD’s with the recent retirements of Julie Corletto, Claire McMeniman and Bec Bulley. At just 21 years of age, Maddy Turner stands out as one to us that is in line to be the next great Australian GD. In her first season at the highest level last season, Turner was statistically only marginally behind more experienced netballers such as Kate Shimmin, Jo Weston and April Brandley. With more experience and continued improvement, our expectation is that Turner will be competing with Weston for holding down that GD spot by the end of 2017
The big question mark: Can Sammy Wallace and Helen Housby impose themselves in Australia like they have in England?