Collingwood Magpies Squad Analysis
To say the Magpies have built a formidable squad is an understatement. The Magpies have at their disposal an awesome array of talent highlighted by the best defender in the world (Sharni Layton) and arguably the best mid-courters in the world (Kim Ravaillion and Madi Robinson). The Magpies will enter this new era of Australian netball as overwhelming premiership favourites and although the TipBetPro model doesn’t have quite the same confidence as the market that the 2017 premiership is a fait accompli, we do agree that the Magpies start the season as the team to beat.
In attack is where the Magpies only possible vulnerable spot is. Caitlin Thwaites is a fine GS (likely even better now that her nemesis Laura Geitz has retired!) but isn’t quite rated at the same level of an Aiken, Bassett or Kumwenda. There is a slight question mark over starting GA Alice Teague-Neeld, incredibly the only member of the Magpies starting 7 to have not represented the Diamonds. Teague-Neeld did an admirable job stepping up to a starting role at the Vixens last season following injury to Tegan Philip. However, of the Australian GA’s – Teague-Neeld only outperformed a career worst season from Erin Bell in 2016 with Susan Pettitt, Nat Medurst and Gretel Tippett all comfortably rated higher than Teague-Neeld. So whilst the Magpies goal circle is solid – we rate the Giants, Firebirds, Vixens and Lightning goal circles as superior and this may be where the Magpies can be beaten. Cody Lange showed considerable talent as a potential starting GS in 2016 before going down with a horrific knee injury and is a demonstration that the Magpies don’t just boast sublime starting talent but also great depth.
It is hard to see how the Magpies mid-court will ever be beaten. You could make a solid argument that Ravaillion and Robinson are the best Centre and Wing Attack respectively in the world whilst if not for some unfortunately timed injures, we are firmly of the belief that at the Wing Defence role, Ash Brazill is amongst the world’s best. And if there is an injury? Enter Shae Brown – who would be a starter at every other club and whose aggression and tenacious appetite for the loose ball is unmatched by any other mid-courter in the competition. There are simply not enough superlatives for how good this Magpies mid-court is.
Sharni Layton established herself as the world’s best defender in 2016 and enters the new competition as the star player in the star team. Strong, quick on her feet, athletic and with a fierce will to win, Layton is an enormous acquisition to the Magpies franchise and there is little doubt that she will set up countless counter-attacks with her ability to create turnovers on opposition attacking forays. Layton will receive good support in defence by the greatly improved April Brandley. After some struggles at GK early in her career at the Swifts, Brandley moved to the West Coast Fever and reinvented herself as a GD, a position where she is rarely beaten and is a hot contender to take the Diamonds GD spot vacated by the recently retired Claire McMeniman. Micaela Wilson is perhaps the least known of the Magpies roster but with experience on both the Vixens and Swifts squads, Wilson is a more than competent back-up to Layton and Brandley.
Predicted 2017 Position: 1st
2017 Objective: Premiership. Stretch goal – undefeated. The Magpies theoretically should dominate the competition and whilst no doubt they will “settle” with a premiership, they may well privately be aiming to go through undefeated.
Player to Watch: Ash Brazill – The ex-Fever skipper doesn’t have the profile of many of her Magpies team-mates but her value to the team will outstrip her profile. Likely to hold down WD but capable of playing at Centre, Brazill has an enormous vertical leap that belies her short stature and her strong read on the play inevitably ends in strong intercept and deflection numbers from WD. About as good as you can hope to compliment Layton and Brandley at the defensive end of the court.
The big question mark: Will Caitlin Thwaites and Alice Teague-Neeld be able to stand-up and post a winning score if the all-star mid-court and defence aren’t dominating their opponents?