Last season the Giants came sixth.
The biggest change to the Giants’ roster from 2020 is the loss of former Aussie Diamonds captain Caitlin Bassett. On paper that is a massive change. However, in 2020 Bassett struggled to receive court time and even resorted to reading books on the sideline.
It was implied (or assumed) this was a result of the introduction of the super shot. This reasoning does not hold much weight given similar style goal shooters like Jhaniele Fowler and Romelda Aiken still dominated, plus there were ten minutes per quarter where the super shot is not relevant. Therefore, there were other factors at play. It is good to see Bassett doing what she does best in 2021 with Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic.
Shooter and English Rose Jo Harten became just the second person to captain the Giants in 2020 following the retirement of Kim Green. Foundation Giant Harten took advantage of the super shot rule in 2020. Her 78 super shots were clearly the most in the competition. Harten has played over 100 matches for England and has played in the UK Superleague, New Zealand and Australia.
The Giants may not have had a good year as a team but one of their highlights was the season of Kiera Austin. In 2020, Austin won the Giants’ MVP and was named goal attack in the Super Netball team of the year. Austin received 289 centre passes, the third most in the competition. Austin, who started 2020 at wing attack finished the season with 249 goals and 42 super shots. Austin also played for the Aussie Diamonds in the Constellation Cup in 2021.
The Giants’ third shooter is Sophie Dwyer. Dwyer was a Giants training partner in 2020 who was included in the extended squad. Dwyer made her debut in Round 1 of 2020. Like Austin, 19-year-old Dwyer is from the Eastwood Ryde Netball Association.
Maddie Hay played 13 of 14 matches in her first season as a contracted player and made wing attack her own, despite traditionally being a wing defence. In 2020, Hay had 164 goal assists, 279 circle feeds, 19 deflections and three intercepts. Hay was a member of NSW’s winning under-21s national championship-winning team.
Jamie-Lee Price played her 100th game in 2020 at the age of just 24. In 2020, Price led the Giants for goal assists with 190. Before joining the Giants, Price played for the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic. Price represented Australia at the 2017 Netball World Youth Cup and has now represented the Diamonds. Price is one of the best defensive midcourters in the league.
The 23-year-old wing defence Amy Parmenter led the Giants for intercepts with 25 and deflections with 62 in 2020. Parmenter was awarded the Giants’ members’ player of the year in 2020 and was also named in the Australian development squad. Parmenter has developed a good combination with Price and given their ages expect to see a Giants midcourt of Parmenter, Price and Hay for many years to come.
Kristiana Manu’a has again been named the Giants’ vice-captain in 2021. Manu’a also played with Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic prior to joining the Giants. Manu’a debuted for the Aussie Diamonds in 2016. Manu’a is a tough and determined defender. She was controversially sent off during a match against the Sunshine Coast Lightning in 2020 for a second act of rough play. This resulted in the Lightning storming home with an extra player to overturn a deficit to win the game.
Defender April Brandley benefited from the delayed start to the 2020 season. Brandley played with the Magpies in 2019. Originally, she was set to miss most of if not all of the 2020 season due to her pregnancy. But due to the delayed start to the season Brandley was signed as a training partner by the Giants and was included in their extended squad. Brandley brings with her plenty of experience with the NSW Swifts, West Coast Fever, Collingwood Magpies and the Aussie Diamonds. Brandley will have only benefited from a full pre-season with the Giants.
Sam Poolman has been a regular starter for the Giants since their inaugural season and is approaching 100 games.
Poolman played for the Adelaide Thunderbirds before joining the Giants. In 2020, Poolman had the fifth most defensive rebounds in the competition with 24. Poolman also took 20 intercepts and had 42 deflections during the season.
Matilda McDonell is by far the least experienced player in the defensive circle. But what she lacks in experience she makes up for with youth and exuberance. McDonell benefited from the rolling substitutions in 2020, playing nine games.
The Giants have four players that can play in the defensive circle so they have that area well covered. However, they only have three genuine midcourters. So expect to see Kristiana Manu’a and possibly even April Brandley play at wing defence and Kiera Austin may spend some time at wing attack.
The Giants’ training partners include defenders Jemma Donoghue and Clare Iongi, midcourters Annie Miller, Amy Sligar and Latika Tombs and shooter Matisse Letherbarrow.
The Giants’ playing roster is relatively stable from the prior year. Their younger players will continue to develop, but despite a promising pre-season, I am not sure if they will be able to improve enough to challenge for finals.
Predicted finish: seventh.