Melbourne Vixens Squad Analysis
The Vixens have snuck under the radar a touch amongst most netball supporters when considering 2017 final fancies but the TipBetPro model likes them better than most. There are not many household names in the Vixens squad but there is a plethora of young talent that will only get better as their careers progress.
The Vixens attack is led by Mwai Kumwenda, the Malawi international and former Canterbury Tactix Goal Shooter. Kumwenda has been hidden away a little in the ANZ Championships playing for an under-performing New Zealand team (the Canterbury Tactix), however statistically she stacks up well to trail only Romelda Aiken and Caitlyn Bassett as our top rated GS in the competition. Kumwenda enjoys the big stage, never better demonstrated then when she was crowned player of the tournament in the 2015 World Cup, so nearly leading her country to what would have been a monumental upset over Jamaica to progress to the semi-finals. The GA position will likely be filled by Tegan Philip who missed last season after a ruptured ACL in the pre-season. It is easy to forget that it was as recent as 2014 that Philip was arguably the best GA in the country and if she can make a successful return from injury we expect the Vixens attack will be one of the best going around. If things don’t work out with Philip then Kumwenda is flexible enough to move into the GA bib and open the door for Emma Ryde. The 2016 back-up to former Vixens GS Karen Bailey showed that she oozes potential when she complimented numerous handy cameos from the bench to smash 52 goals past Central Pulse when Bailey missed a game late last season.
The Vixens mid-court is serviceable but with potential for greatness. Liz Watson has enjoyed a meteoric rise since her debut in 2014 to now be on the fringe of the Diamonds squad and will lead the mid-court from the Centre position. Supporting Watson will be journeyman Khao Watts, who joins her 4th team in 5 seasons and whilst not quite at the Kim Green level as far as WA’s go – Watts is not as far behind as many believe. Versatile youngster Chloe Watson (who can also slip into GD) and Kate Moloney will likely share the WD bib and both have shown enough to suggest that they will be more than adequate performers in a defensive mid-court role.
Defensively the Vixens will be spearheaded by impressive Goal Defence Jo Weston. A fringe Diamond player – Weston is our 2nd highest rated GD in the competition leading into the 2017 season. It will be intriguing as to who will hold down the GK role, for so long filled by Geva Mentor at the Vixens. In the Vixens ill-fated elimination final last season, Emily Mannix replaced Geva Mentor and showed an uncanny ability to read the play racking up 3 intercepts and 7 deflections in limited game time. However, Mannix will face stiff competition for the GK bib from young Jamaican import Kadie-Ann Dehaney. Standing at 192cm and already having experience at international netball, Dehaney may well be the preferred option at GK, particular for matching up on the taller Goal Shooters.
Predicted 2017 Position: 4th
2017 Objective: Finals – The Vixens have a team that screams powerhouse … just not in 2017 – a year or two away from this squad making a premiership tilt but still the Vixens should be targeting finals netball
Player to Watch: Mwai Kumwenda – Passionate netball fans will know all about her but the casual watcher may not be aware of the talents of the Malawi marvel. For sheer athleticism at dragging in balls no-one else would dream of, there is no-one better in the competition than Kumwenda and Vixens fans are in for a treat watching her in 2017.
The big question mark: Can Tegan Philip re-capture her best form returning from a year out of the game?