Super Netball 2023: Jamaican players loom as ‘nervous’ threat to Australian Diamonds at Netball World Cup
Australia may be giving its biggest threat the perfect preparation to spring a major upset at this year’s Netball World Cup.
No team other than Australia and New Zealand has ever won the Netball World Cup, apart from when they were declared joint winners with Trinidad and Tobago in 1979 because of the round robin format.
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But there’s a rising superpower of netball and their star players are plying their trade in Australia’s top league, Super Netball.
Jamaica announced its arrival on the world stage by beating Australia in the group stage at last year’s Commonwealth Games before losing to the Diamonds in the final.
It was the best result by the Sunshine Girls in a global tournament and after several fourth and third place finishes at World Cups, Jamaica will want to win it all in South Africa later this year.
Seven Jamaicans currently play in the Super Netball — West Coast Fever goal shooter Jhaniele Fowler, Adelaide Thunderbirds defenders Shamera Sterling and Latanya Wilson, Collingwood duo Shimona Nelson and Jodi-Ann Ward, the Lightning’s Kadie-Ann Dehaney and veteran Swifts shooter Romelda Aiken-George.
Fowler has won the last five Super Netball Player of the Year awards and led the Fever to their maiden premiership last season.
The powerhouse shooter is the focal point of Jamaica’s attack, while the athletic pairing of Sterling and Wilson are a shooter’s nightmare in the defensive circle.
England stars including Jo Harten, Helen Housby, Eleanor Cardwell and Geva Mentor are also in the Super Netball, but New Zealand’s players compete across the ditch in the ANZ Premiership.
All seven Jamaicans starred during Round 1 of the new Super Netball season, prompting some pundits to wonder if Australia’s best players are giving their fiercest rival the perfect preparation to beat them at the World Cup.
Asked on Fox Netball’s Centre Circle if the Aussies have reason to be nervous, Diamonds legend and former selector Annie Sargeant said: “Of course we do.
“But that’s part of the business of preparing for it, to be respectful of your opponents. The Commonwealth Games last year clearly indicated we’re seeing the best Jamaica’s ever seen.
“Can I say though, and I guess it’s how we approach our national team — individuals don’t make a winning team. Those athletes, sensational as they are, need to be connected and in sync to win the World Cup.”
Ex-Diamonds shooter Caitlin Bassett said the Jamaicans were “absolutely incredible” in the first week of Super Netball.
Former Swifts and Magpies coach Rob Wright is now Jamaica’s head coach and he will need to sprinkle some magic dust over the mid-court to connect the bookends of Fowler and the Wilson-Sterling combination.
“The threat is they’ve got Rob Wright over there, he’s starting to blend them together,” Sargeant added.
“The mid-court is another part they have to gel. But individually they won’t do it as superb as they are. It’ll need to be a connected group. But yeah, nervous, always nervous.”
The Diamonds won Commonwealth Games gold and the Constellation Cup last year and they are determined to “complete the set” by reclaiming the World Cup off the Kiwis.
Super Netball action continues this weekend, with the Queensland and Melbourne derbies headlining Round 2.
Super Netball Round 2 (all times AEDT)
Queensland Firebirds vs Sunshine Coast Lightning — Saturday 5pm
Adelaide Thunderbirds vs NSW Swifts — Saturday 7pm
Giants vs West Coast Fever — Sunday 2pm
Collingwood vs Melbourne Vixens — Sunday 4pm AEDT
Originally published as Jamaica’s ‘incredible’ Super Netball players loom as World Cup threat to Australia’s Diamonds