West Coast Fever Squad Analysis
Alongside the Swifts, the Fever were hit hardest by the clean-out that occurred with the formation of the new Australian domestic netball competition. Superstar Caitlin Bassett is gone and with her has gone Ash Brazill, Shae Brown and April Brandley. It is a devastating blow to a side that seemed most likely to step up to compete with powerhouses Swifts and Firebirds before the formation of the new competition.
The Fever have a huge concern filling the GS bib left vacant by the departure of Bassett. Do the Fever look to experience and former Diamond Kate Beveridge to fill the role or do they have an eye to the future with the inexperienced but talented Kaylia Stanton. Whichever way they go, the Fever GS will be the lowest rated GS in the competition in the statistically most important position. The one thing helping the Fever is that feeding Beveridge or Stanton will be the Fever’s marque player – Nat Medhurst. The passing capability of Medhurst is 2nd to none in the competition and there is little doubt that Beveridge or Stanton will benefit from playing alongside someone of the experience and skill of Medhurst.
The Fever have the lowest rated mid-court in the competition by some distance. Wing Attack Verity Simmons is the only mid-courter with significant experience and Simmons was a reasonable distance behind the premier WA’s in the competition in 2016. Ingrid Colyer has done an admirable job as a mid-court back-up for the Fever for several years and may get first crack at the Centre bib although there is a chance that Australian Under 21 player Jess Anstiss will be thrown straight in the deep end. Shannon Eagland will be the favourite to get first crack at the WD bib – Eagland has been on rosters (namely the Firebirds and Vixens) previously without ever nailing down a starting spot, however her dominance of the 2nd tier competition has earned her another chance in the big league.
The strength for the Fever side is in defence where the rapidly improving Courtney Bruce trails only legends Sharni Layton and Geva Mentor as the highest ranked GK in the competition. Bruce will have good support from English fringe defender Stacey Francis and the pair is likely to form a formidable defensive duo that should restrict opposition shooters from posting huge scores on the Fever. Backing the pair up is another young gun in Australian Under 21 representative Annika Lee-Jones who, standing at 197cm, will provide an alternative option as one of the few defenders in the competition who can match up height wise with the likes of Romelda Aiken and Caitlin Bassett.
Predicted 2017 Position: 7th
2017 Objective: Remain competitive whilst developing the likes of Stanton, Anstiss and Lee-Jones into starting 7 quality players
Player to watch: Jess Anstiss - With only Simmons demanding a starting mid-court spot – and that spot likely to be WA, there is the opportunity available for an unheralded player to hold down one of the most crucial positions on the court at Centre. We are tipping that debutant Jess Anstiss will be given the responsibility. Anstiss has made her way through the ranks as a regular representative of Australian junior sides and indeed is in Fiji currently with the Australian Under 21 team. With experience at WD, Anstiss defensive capabilities are strong and working alongside Nat Medhurst will assist to develop her attacking mid-court credentials. A virtual unknown at present – we are tipping Anstiss to be a well-known up and coming mid-courter in Australian netball by the end of the 2017 season.
The big question mark: Who will hold down the GS bib – Kate Beveridge or Kaylia Stanton?