UPDATE: Changes to the squad announced!
Netball Queensland has announced the Queensland Fusion squad for the 2020 Deakin University Australian Netball League, with selectors welcoming a mix of new rising stars and high-performing experienced campaigners.
30/10/19 UPDATE: Chanel Dyer (Cougars) has withdrawn from the Fusion Squad. She has been replaced by Alana Schuster (Tigers).
Netball Queensland GM High Performance Richard McInnes said selectors had faced a difficult challenge with the high calibre of talent across the HART Sapphire Series.
“The calibre of performances across this competition has definitely stepped up and the selection process was really challenging. It is always a good sign for the team when there are high-quality players unable to force their way into the squad.”
“This Fusion program has struggled for identity and purpose, being caught in between State League and the Firebirds level over the last few years, so in 2020 we will pivot slightly to ensure we have a balance of youth and experience,” he said.
Exciting debutantes named in the Squad include Annie Lawrie, who was a training partner for the Queensland 19U team in 2019 and who stepped up from the Ruby competition to play a key role in the QUT Wildcats Sapphire Series finals campaign.
“When Reilley Batcheldor was injured late in the season, many thought QUT Wildcats would struggle through the finals series, however Annie, stepped up and performed exceptionally well and helped her team to an historic grand final victory. She demonstrated composure under pressure and what impressed selectors was the defensive work she did in the final, securing several critical turnovers as Cougars tried to transition down court.
“Defence is all about attitude and Annie showed plenty of what we are looking for in our players,” McInnes said.
MVP for the HART Sapphire Series grand final Danielle Taylor has also been selected in the Squad for the first time, a reflection of her consistently strong performances throughout the HART Sapphire Series.
“Danni has shown consistent improvement throughout the season and delivered the performance of her career in the grand final. Selection is based on more than one performance – but her outstanding contribution in the grand final showed us exactly what she is capable of. Exceptional defence against experienced campaigners, along with consistent improvement throughout the season has brought this young player into the Squad.”
Jeante Strydom, playing for the Bond University Bull Sharks, has also been welcomed into the Fusion squad for the first time.
“Selectors were very impressed to see Strydom’s development over the season and we’ll be looking to see how that trajectory continues as she steps up to the national league level. She has a huge work rate on the court and is ultra-competitive so we feel she will add value to the squad in 2020.”
Experienced campaigners also make a welcome return to the Squad, including Bella Sorby recovering from her ACL reconstruction, Lenora Misa, back from a double knee reconstruction, and following strong performances for QUT Wildcats and during the Netball World Cup for Samoa. Also, 2019 Firebird, Tippah Dwan, is back after suffering a broken foot during the pre-season this year, which ruled her out for the entire season.
“The experienced players will bring leadership and guidance to the Squad and we believe they can play an important part in shaping the culture and success of a netball side. Younger players benefit from that experience and that helps the whole group,” he said.
“Hulita Veve, a former grand final-winning Firebird, brings that experience in spades. Her return to netball as a mum of two amazing little boys has been exceptional and it’s exciting to see her take another step back toward the SSN court,” McInnes said.
“She led the QUT Wildcats from bottom of the ladder last season to grand final winners this season and she’s playing fantastic netball.”
Veve’s teammate Keshia Grant has also earned selection in the squad for the first time after a strong season in the Sapphire Series.
“Grant’s mid-court skills for the QUT Wildcats, along with her fitness and energy, have made her a strong contender and we are looking forward to seeing how she will develop as part of the Fusion squad,” McInnes said.
Also making her Fusion return is Cougars player Chanel Dyer, who played for the Northern Territory Storm in 2019 and performed strongly in the HART Sapphire Series, winning the minor premiership.
Other returning players from the 2019 Fusion team include Amy Sommerville, Bridey Condren, Charlie Bell, Jada Gafa, Leesa Mi Mi, Maddie Hinchliffe, Mia Stower, Ruby Bakewell-Doran, Shenae Grant and Rylie Holland.
Cougars goal attack Binnian Hunt was also selected but has declined the invitation to play while the impressive Rylie Batcheldor was not considered for 2020 while she recovers from injury.
This Squad of 19 players will come together in January to begin training with the final Fusion team of 12 players to be confirmed by mid-February before the competition starts in May.
2020 Queensland Fusion squad
Alana Schuster (Tigers)
Amy Sommerville (Tigers)
Annie Lawrie (QUT Wildcats)
Bella Sorby (Cougars)
Bridey Condren (Jets)
Chanel Dyer (Cougars) (withdrawn 29/10/19)
Charlie Bell (Jets)
Danielle Taylor (QUT Wildcats)
Hulita Veve (QUT Wildcats)
Jada Gafa (Bond Uni Bull Sharks)
Jeante Strydom (Bond Uni Bull Sharks)
Keshia Grant (QUT Wildcats)
Leesa Mi Mi (QUT Wildcats)
Lenora Misa (QUT Wildcats)
Maddie Hinchliffe (Cougars)
Mia Stower (Cougars)
Ruby Bakewell-Doran (Cougars)
Rylie Holland (Cougars)
Shenae Grant (Bond Uni Bull Sharks)
Tippah Dwan (Jets)