Rising NSW Swifts star Sophie Garbin was all but unknown to most netball fans just 12 months ago.
But fast-forward a year and she’s one of the names on everyone’s lips as the future of Australian goaling, having had a stellar first season in Suncorp Super Netball (SSN).
This time last year the Perth native was busy making a name for herself as the best young shooting talent in Australia, sweeping all before her for the WA Sting in the Deakin University Australian Netball League (DUANL).
The Swifts were quick to swoop on the 21-year-old, and she duly delivered for them numerous times throughout the 2018 Super Netball season as their go-to player when they needed a spark late in games.
Garbin’s instant success in the world’s best netball league, along with the retirements of a host of veterans and SSN stalwarts, means clubs are almost certain to be looking towards the DUANL to unearth the next recruits for their rosters.
For Kate Upton, who coached the Collingwood-aligned Tasmanian Magpies to their first DUANL title this year, the quality of the talent coming through the DUANL competition has never been stronger.
“The intent in everything that everyone does on that court has stepped up a level this year. That was the most impressive thing: it didn’t matter who you were playing, every quarter was competitive and every quarter you had to make sure you were trying to execute your game plan,” she said.
“Everyone is going out there with a do-or-die kind of attitude.”
Upton pointed to the presence Suncorp Super Netball training partners, who played much of the DUANL season, as the driving force behind the increasingly elite standard.
“The training partners get the crossover of the two competitions and the training environment. If you’ve got players in that (Super Netball) environment and they’re bringing that down into your training, it lifts the bar and challenges everybody else. They play a big role in setting the intensity and the culture that filters down into DUANL.”
JANE COOK – GS – TASMANIAN MAGPIES
A 2017 Adelaide Thunderbirds signing, Cook returned to Victoria this year and was the clear number one tall shooter in the competition, scoring 534 goals in 14 games and leading Tasmania to the 2018 title. With few tall Australian goalers currently emerging, Cook may get another opportunity.
RAHNI SAMASON – GS/GA – VICTORIAN FURY
The Australian Netball League MVP for 2018, goal shooter Samason’s accuracy from any range will almost certainly appeal to Suncorp Super Netball clubs. With Mwai Kumwenda set to miss 12 months with an ACL injury, is Samason the readymade replacement?
AMY PARMENTER – WD – CANBERRA GIANTS
A training partner with GIANTS Netball, Parmenter added further sparkle to her rising star with an impressive DUANL season. Upton says Parmenter was one of the competition’s real “gamechangers” and is very likely to attract interest in the coming years.
TEIGAN O’SHANNASSY – GK/GD – CANBERRA GIANTS
Upton rates 19-year-old O’Shannassy as one of the most difficult defenders for any team to match up against. The 187cm talent has a canny ability to confuse the space for goalers and feeders, and was a key part of Canberra’s run to the grand final.