Borlase earns reputation as big game performer

Jenny Borlase-2The name Jenny Borlase is synonymous with not one but two of Australia’s Netball World Cup triumphs in the 1990’s.

In a stellar international career that lasted a decade and 70 Tests, Borlase (pictured left and below) won three world championships and a Commonwealth Games Gold Medal (1998) during one of Australia’s golden periods of dominance.

Her accuracy around goal was legendary, but she spent most of her career living in the shadows of one of Australia’s greatest ever shooters Vicki Wilson.

But Borlase is fondly remembered for her roles in Australia’s 1995 and 1999 world title triumphs.

In the ’95 campaign, Borlase was needed on court when Wilson went down with a serious knee injury in the second quarter of Australia’s semi-final against New Zealand in Birmingham.

Then captain Michelle den Dekker had confidence that her South Australian teammate would step up to the challenge and guide Australia to victory.

“Jenny was always waiting for an opportunity to get on court so I just knew that she was ready to go. I think Jenny got on and shot magnificently from the onset,” den Dekker said.

“I was very confident in her long shots. Jenny’s strength was that she was able to turn and shoot – a bit like Vicki. Jenny knew where the post was.”

08072015154754-0001History shows that Borlase finished the match with 13 goals at 87 per cent accuracy to guide Australia to a one-goal win over the Silver Ferns.

In the final against South Africa, with the injured Wilson watching from the sidelines, Borlase shot 37 goals at 90 per cent accuracy to lead Australia to a comfortable 20-goal win and its seventh world title.

Four years later in front of a parochial New Zealand crowd in Christchurch, Australia was staring down the barrel of defeat in the final against the Silver Ferns when then coach Jill McIntosh again called on Borlase to deliver.

Australia trailed by six goals at three-quarter time. But in one of the most memorable quarters of netball ever played, Borlase combined with a young Sharelle McMahon to drag their country to an epic one-goal victory and etch her name in Australian sporting folklore once again.

It was to be Borlase’s last appearance for Australia – and she is still ranked 10th on the all-time list of Tests played. She remains proud of her contributions to one of Australia’s golden eras of netball.

“In ’91 I was a rookie. I knew that I was there to grow and mature and develop my skills,” Borlase said. “By the time we got to ’95 I had the training under my belt and I was a lot stronger mentally and felt ready to make a contribution to us winning.

1999 World Championships_credit unknown“I’d been sitting in wings for a while and I felt it was my turn and I was ready to go.”

The 1999 triumph remains her fondest – only because of the situation Australia found itself in late in the match and because of her contribution to the victory.

“That was 10 years of hard work culminating in that victory,” Borlase said.

IMG_3702Borlase is still coaching at junior level for the Garville Netball Club in Adelaide, which she first joined after moving to the South Australian capital from the Eyre Peninsula as an 18-year-old.

She will be in Sydney next month – along with her two daughters – to watch the next generation of Australian stars etch another chapter in the country’s proud world cup history.

Every fortnight leading into this year’s Netball World Cup we’ll feature a story from one of Australia’s past campaigns. Stay tuned to for the next installment.

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