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Opinion

West Coast Fever season preview

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28th April, 2021
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Last season the West Coast Fever finished second.

The West Coast Fever made the grand final in both 2018 and 2020 and split those grand final appearances with a sixth-place finish in 2019.

The Fever lost a thrilling grand final to the Vixens by two points. Traditionally it would be goals but with the invention of the super shot, it is now points. Sorry traditionalists – and I am one of those – the super shot is still around for 2021.

Firstly, I will address the elephant in the room and that is the salary cap penalties. Due to historical salary cap breaches, the Fever will be stripped of 12 premiership points. So they are giving up three wins to the rest of the field before they even start.

Jhaniele Fowler, with her height and athleticism, continued to cause chaos for her opposition in 2020.

Fowler has won the Super Netball player of the year three years in a row. The Jamaican Sunshine Girls shooter scored the most goals in Super Netball in 2020 with 965, almost 400 more than second-placed Romelda Aiken. Fowler was also second in offensive rebounds with 68.

Jhaniele Fowler

(Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)

Alice Teague-Neeld stood up at goal attack last season for the Fever. Teague-Neeld didn’t shoot a lot of goals. However, when you have Fowler in the circle, you don’t need to.

Teague-Neeld was second in the competition for goal assists with 321 and second in the competition for centre pass receives with 306.

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The Fever have recruited young South Australian Sasha Glasgow from the Adelaide Thunderbirds to replace Kaylia Stanton, who has moved to the Melbourne Vixens. Glasgow spent four seasons with the Thunderbirds and can play at both goal attack and goal shooter.

In the centre third, Emma Cosh returns. Cosh, originally a goal attack, moved to wing attack last season when Ingrid Colyer suffered an ACL injury. The Fever recruited Cosh from the East Freo Sharks in the West Australian Netball League. In last season’s preliminary final, Cosh had 43 circle feeds and 27 goal assists.

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Verity Charles had the third most goal assists in Super Netball in 2020 with 317. At the age of 29, Charles brings a lot of experience to the Fever and is in the Fever’s leadership group. Charles played for the Aussie Diamonds in the Constellation Cup earlier this year.

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Jess Anstiss has made the Fever’s wing defence position her own. Anstiss plays with high intensity and can move to centre if required. Anstiss won the 2018 Super Netball Young Star Award and was wing defence in the 2018 Super Netball team of the year. Anstiss celebrated her 50th game during 2020.

English Rose Stacey Francis-Bayman returns to the Fever. Before moving to Perth, Francis-Bayman won two UK Superleague player of the season awards. She won the 2017 Fever coach’s award. Francis-Bayman has formed a wonderful defensive partnership with Courtney Bruce. Francis-Bayman can also play wing defence if the team needs to change up their dynamic.

Generic netball

(Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

Courtney Bruce will become the Fever’s longest serving captain in 2021. Bruce has played 82 games for the Fever since her debut in 2013. Bruce is a determined competitor. In 2020, Bruce was first in the competition with 44 intercepts, second for defensive rebounds with 36 and third for deflections with 101. Bruce has become an almost automatic selection in the Aussie Diamonds’ defensive circle.

Goal defence Sunday Aryang was included in the Fever’s extended 12-player squad for the 2020 hub season. In the minor semi-final, Aryang came off the bench to spark a Fever comeback against the NSW Swifts. Aryang had four intercepts, four deflections and one block in that game.

Young Western Australian defender Olivia Lewis rounds out the Fever’s squad. Lewis won a premiership in 2018 in the West Australian Netball League with the Coastal Sharks. Lewis was named MVP in the grand final, won the Sharks’ MVP award and was awarded the Jill McIntosh medal.

The West Coast Fever’s training partners are the experienced Shannon Eagland, midcourter Courtney Kruta and shooters Donnell Wallam and Sloan Burton.

Likely starting seven: Bruce, Francis-Bayman, Anstiss, Charles, Cosh, Teague-Neeld, Fowler.

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Prediction
The Fever line-up is almost identical to 2020 and will be very difficult to beat in 2021. Fowler and Bruce are the bookends for this wonderful team. Unfortunately, starting the season three wins behind the field might be too big an obstacle to overcome, even for the Fever.

Predicted finish: fifth.

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