Netball World Cup 2019 - Top Contenders
- June 4th, 2019
- Eleanor Durr
The 2019 Netball World Cup is fast approaching, commencing 12th July 2019, with many teams having a lot to prove.
England came away as Commonwealth champions in the Gold Coast last year after a nail-biting 52-51 victory against rivals Australia. With this World Cup on their doorstep in Liverpool, will the hosts be able to claim their first ever world cup title?
Despite the pivotal loss, Australia managed to retain their Number 1 world status, yet their sights will be firmly set on proving this with nothing but the gold in Liverpool.
A disappointing 4th place for New Zealand at the Commonwealth Games meant they slipped out of the top 3 in the world with Jamaica leap-frogging them to secure the third spot. So come 12th July, all is to play for and it's set to be a tournament full of exciting twists.
Take a closer look at the main contenders and their World Cup squads.
Head coach Lisa Alexander is keen to prove her side are still the world's best and shocked the netball world with her squad choice, going with form over loyalty - the likes of Gabi Simpson, previously vice-captain for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, and Kim Ravaillion are shock omissions from the squad.
Simpson has recently suffered from a groin injury, yet has managed to play the last two rounds of Super Netball. However, instead of allowing Simpson to work through her injury, Australian selectors have given Giants defender, Jaime-Lee Price, the green light. Liz Watson also steps up to take vice-captaincy.
People have questioned the choice of Alexander, highlighting the obvious difference in the experience of the 2015 World Cup squad, who went on to win the title, and the lack of familiarity in this squad compared to some of their main opposition. Nevertheless, the passion, determination and hard work from the Diamonds will leave them suitably positioned to challenge for the title.
Who to watch:
Caitlin Bassett is one of the biggest names in world netball and is said to be sharper than ever for 2019. After a fractured left forearm, sustained in January, Bassett has proven her fitness and is moving well with her arm fully recovered.
Bassett is arguably one of the most valuable players in the world, her significant experience coupled with her ability to win games means she'll be a crucial player for the Diamonds.
Although relatively in-experienced on the international stage compared to some of her fellow Diamonds, Hadley is set to make an impact this World Cup. After sustaining an ACL injury in 2014, Hadley has proven she is a force to be reckoned with and formed part of the victorious squad in the 2015 World Cup.
Hadley's versatility within the mid-court, coupled with her level head leaves her one to watch at this year's World Cup, especially if she can match the impact she had on the NSW Swifts this year.
Caitlin Bassett (captain), Liz Watson (vice-captain), April Brandley, Kelsey Browne, Courtney Bruce, Paige Hadley, Sarah Klau, Caitlin Thwaites, Gretel Tippett, Jamie-Lee Price, Jo Weston, Steph Wood
England Head coach, Tracey Neville, seems to have followed suit selecting players who are at their physical peak, rather than picking due to loyalty.
Arguably the biggest shock to the English line up is the omission of Ama Agbeze, who captained England to their gold medal in Australia last year. Agbeze announced she was 'very disappointed' at the decision, but as Neville explained Agbeze has been struggling with a few injuries and selected those who have been able to consistently perform well under extreme pressure.
A big loss to the English squad is WD star, Beth Cobden. Cobden ruptured her ACL in the 2018 Superleague final, however worked hard and managed to make a phenomenal comeback - playing in Australia for Adelaide Thunderbirds. In a heartbreaking turn of events, Cobden again managed to rupture her ACL playing for the South Australia based team in Round 3 of Super Netball, ruling her out of World Cup selection. Cobden stated how she was 'heartbroken' but is set on making a comeback.
The English side has an exciting mix of experienced players, such as Geva Mentor and Jade Clarke, who are both preparing for their 5th World Cup; as well as youngsters Fran Williams and Layla Guscoth, who will make their major tournament debuts for the Roses this July.
With Neville announcing she will step down as England Netball head coach after the World Cup to start a family, she and the Roses will be sure to try and deliver the dream send-off.
Who to watch:
Serena Guthrie is easily one of the best centre court players in the world; regardless of the team Guthrie plays for, she is sure to make an impact. Since her debut in 2008, Guthrie has earned 90 caps and has proven herself as the suitable choice to lead England for the upcoming World Cup.
Guthrie is pivotal in both her attacking and defensive abilities, perfectly feeding the circle, as well as taking interceptions all over the court.
Helen Houseby was a sure bet to be a part of the World Cup squad after playing a critical role for the Roses at the Commonwealth Games, scoring the game-winning goal in the final.
Houseby provides a calm head in the circle and manages to time her movement and positioning perfectly to constantly be available. She is known by her teammates as the 'ice queen' due to her cool-head and unfazed attitude even in the highest of pressure moments.
Serena Guthrie (captain), Jade Clarke (vice-captain), Helen Housby, Joanne Harten, Natalie Haythornthwaite, Rachel Dunn, Chelsea Pitman, Natalie Panagarry, Layla Guscoth, Eboni Usoro-Brown, Geva Mentor, Francesca Williams
Jamaica will be looking to prove they mean business this year after finishing 4th at the previous two World Cups and have named a powerful squad of 12. The Jamaican team field a near identical team to the Commonwealth squad that claimed 3rd spot, with only 2 changes - Kadie-Ann Dehaney (GK/GD) and Shimona Nelson (GS).
The team is led by the experienced shooting pair of Romelda Aiken and Jhanielle Fowler-Reid and who are set to make a big impact this July.
Who to watch:
Experienced shooter Jhaniele Fowler is regarded as one of the most prolific in the world. The 29-year-old has had a fantastic season for West Coast Fever - scoring 201 of her 210 attempts so far this season - proving she is in perfect shape for the upcoming World Cup.
At the other end of the court is the player known as the 'interception queen', Shemera Sterling. After a superb season at Loughborough Lightning last year, obtaining Vitality Player of the Season and Players' Player of the Season awards, as well as being named as GK in the All-Star VII in 2018, Sterling has demonstrated her defensive dominance for Adelaide Thunderbirds.
Sterling will be pivotal as Jamaica look to upset some odds and claim the title.
Jhanielle Fowler-Reid (captain), Romelda Aiken,Vangelee Williams, Jodi-Ann Ward, Stacian Facey, Shanice Beckford, Adean Thomas, Nicole Dixon, Khadijah Williams, Kadie-Ann Dehaney, Shamera Sterling, Shimona Nelson
In the last 5 Netball World Cup's New Zealand have finished 2nd four times, taking the crown only once in 2003. This year the Silver Ferns, arguably the team with the most to prove, name a solid squad of 12 - again going with form over loyalty.
The squad combines youth and experience. Captain Laura Langman, Maria Folau and former captain Casey Kopua are all returning for their 4th Netball WC and are joined by five WC debutants - Karin Burger, Gina Crampton, Ameliaranne Ekenasio, Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Jane Watson. Head coach Noeline Taurua explained how 'the players who have been recalled to wear the Silver Fern again demonstrates to me passion for our game, fight, fortitude, tenacity and work ethic.'
Who to watch:
Maria Folau is one of the most feared shooters in the world, with her ability to convert shots from all over the circle.
Folau presents a calm, confident figure in the shooting circle, proving a difficult opponent for any defender and is renowned for scoring crucial goals, such as in the Commonwealth Games gold medal match against Australia in 2010, and again during the 2011 ANZ Championship season, scoring the winning goal in the final against the Magic.
Laura Langman is easily one of the most influential and respected mid-courters in the world. In 2018 Langman made a remarkable return to netball when she assumed captaincy, after 18 months away from the international stage.
Langman is known for her high work rate, energy levels and dynamic movement, proving a crucial figure in the Silver Ferns squad. Langman's athleticism and ability to play all three centre court positions leave her suitably positioned to be a game-changing player as the Ferns chase their second title since 1991.
Laura Langman (captain) Maria Folau, Ameliaranne Ekenasio, Gina Crampton, Bailey Mes, Casey Kopua, Jane Watson, Shannon Saunders, Karin Burger, Phoenix Karaka, Katrina Rore, Te Paea Selby-Rickett
Although South Africa are unlikely to make a semi-final berth, they are definitely well set to give the top countries a run for their money.
The Proteas squad is filled with experience, welcoming back Bongiwe Msomi and former captain Maryka Holtzhausen for their third World Cup and Erin Burger for her fourth. Burger, South Africa's most experienced player with 115 international caps, was nearly lost to the game in 2018 when she developed myocarditis, a life-threatening condition causing an inflammation of the heart. She has been carefully working with sports scientists to manage her condition and we hope the Proteas powerhouse will be on top form to drag the South African team deep into the tournament.
Karla Pretorius, Lenize Potgieter, Phumza Maweni and Izette Griesel all prepare for their second World Cup, however one possible surprise is the omission of Sigi Burger, who has had a phenomenal season playing for Surrey Storm in the Superleague, clocking an impressive 94% goal average over the 18 matches.
Who to watch:
Another outstanding mid-courter, known for her athleticism and energy on court. Msomi proved an integral member of the Wasp's Superleague winning squad in 2017, before moving to the Suncorp Super Netball to play for Adelaide Thunderbirds last season.
This season Msomi has proven a key figure in the 2018/19 Wasps squad, helping them secure 2nd place in the Superleague. Playing against the best in the world has taken Msomi's game to the next level and she is sure to thrive on such a prestigious stage this July.
Karla Pretorius is now one of the best and well-known defenders in the world and made her mark in netball after securing the Suncorp Super Netball Grand Final MVP in 2017.
Pretorius has been labelled a 'thief' by commentators, due to her ability to make feeders think there is space but come out of nowhere and swoop in to take the ball. She is in fine form, highlighted by her presence in the 2019 Super Netball season - so far she has taken 28 interceptions, averaging an outstanding 5.6 per game - and is sure to make an impact for the Proteas and leave the crowd with some jaw-dropping moments.
Bongiwe Msomi (captain), Lenize Potgieter, Ine-Marie Venter, Maryka Holtzhausen, Renske Stoltz, Erin Burger, Izette Griesel, Khanyisa Chawane, Shadine van der Merwe, Karla Pretorius, Phumza Maweni, Zanele Vimbela
With all the top 5 teams looking very strong and out to prove their dominance on the world stage, it really does seem all to play for. Who do you think will take the gold medal this year?