Great Southern Netball returns to the court for 2021 season openers

Reigning Premiers: Willunga won their first league premiership in 2020, defeating Victor Harbor. Can they do it again this year? Photo: Ryan Finlay.
Reigning Premiers: Willunga won their first league premiership in 2020, defeating Victor Harbor. Can they do it again this year? Photo: Ryan Finlay.

Yay, netball lovers, it's finally arrived. I am excited to get out of the canteen and watch what I think is going be a wonderful year of netball.

So, who's in and who's out?

Encounter Bay - Unfortunately for the fourth year in a row the Bay don't have a League side. Bays are in a rebuilding phase. How long will it take to rebuild is the question? They do have some talented young players so let's hope that next year they will be back in the league competition.

Langhorne Creek - Langhorne Creek have appointed Brooke Tonkin who will take on the role of League Coach this year. Brooke will lead the team as a playing coach and it will be exciting to see what she brings to the role.

Will their team change much from 2020? Yes! Shane Nethercott retired at the end of 2020 and young goalie Charlee Clifford has made the move to Premier League. Creek will find it hard to replace them at both ends. However, I have no doubt that with Brooke at the helm the team they put on the court will be a super fit competitive one.

Myponga - This year Myponga have appointed new League Coach Mark Collins. Mark has been coaching for many years and I am sure that while the girls are sad to see Sarah Raper depart, Mark will bring a fresh perspective.

Myponga will be without the best GK in the association Emma Raper, but they pick up former 2015 Premiership player Rachel Hutchinson who returns from a year away from the game.

There are some familiar Myponga faces with Rachael Rothwell and Kasey Clarke returning to the team and a few new faces to the line-up, one is speedy mid courter Chelsea Przibilla who has made the move from Willunga.

McLaren Vale - McLaren were big improvers in 2019 and made the top four for the first time in many years. Can they do it again?

McLaren will miss Bree Hansen in the mid court due to impending motherhood, but a great replacement will be Tahlita Buethke who will juggle netball and football. McLaren certainly have some talented young players, so it will be great to see them take the court this year.

Goolwa - The Goolwa girls will be looking forward to getting back on the court this year.

As always, they should have both experience and youth. Kylie Jarrett and Joanna Wilson offer so much leadership and guidance on court and that will be invaluable if they continue to give 2019 future stars Kaya Angas and Tahlia Griffiths opportunities.

Goolwa will be developing their young talent over the next few years, but they are certainly in good hands with their leadership group.

Mount Compass - Compass have had a rebuild this year and things are looking positive. They have appointed Jay Fuss as League Coach who comes with a wealth of Premier League coaching experience at South Adelaide NC.

Compass have also done a bit of recruiting and add in the experience of some of their older players and the possibility of giving their young gun inters a chance. I think Compass will have a good year.

Strathalbyn - As always, no matter who lines up in the team, these girls are super competitive and should never be underestimated.

I always enjoy getting down to Strath and watching my favourite player Kim Cutting control the mid court, I am hoping she didn't decide to retire! Throw in young Bella Garwood in goals and I hear Hannah Platt is making a comeback in defence. All these girls will be looking forward to a solid year of playing netball.

Victor Harbor - With the disappointment of losing the 2020 GSNA Grand Final, Victor will certainly be looking to redeem themselves and get back to being a dominant force. In saying that, apart from the GF, there was still no team that got close throughout the 2020 season.

Sally Fuller has retired and will be a big loss to their defence, as will Luka. Who will fill that void? Victor had a winning S2 team in 2020, so we could see Taylor McKinnon get the call up.

There should be no change to the dominant Victor attack but there may be a few changes through the mid court. Renee Moon is contracted to South Adelaide FC so she may not be available until the middle of the season.

Willunga - Willunga certainly have the momentum going into the 2021 season defeating Victor in the GSNA Grand Final by 6 goals.

Not much to say here as their line up probably won't change and I don't think there will be any retirements. Sasha Williams will be back and wanting to make up for missing the GF. The Hank sisters are stars through the mid court and Amy Bull is just far too good in attack. Willunga will certainly be hard to beat this year.

Yankalilla - Yank had done some big recruiting for the 2020 season. Unfortunately, for them the girls that signed for 2020 wont play in 2021. I say unfortunately, but I think it's going to be a big positive for the club's young talent.

I am a huge fan of Kayla Ellis and Annabel Crawford who was the 2019 GSNA Rising Star and add in young Ella Riley who will be playing her first full season in seniors. These girls are the future of the club.

Round 1, 2021: Predictions

So, let's get to Round 1. Please keep in mind that I will be very rusty with my predictions for the first few rounds.

Victor v Willunga

Victor take on Willunga at home and they will be looking for redemption after the GF loss to Willunga in 2020.

I look forward to watching the Willunga attack and the speed they have through the court, but the game will be won in attack and I just think that the combination of Amanda Martin and Di Johns are just too good.

Victor by 7

Strathalbyn v Encounter Bay

Strathalbyn have the bye this week

Myponga v McLaren Vale

McLaren travel to take on Myponga at home. Let's hope the rain stays away!

Both these teams will have a few new on court combinations and the winner will be the team that can work together for the whole game.

I think the McLaren attack with the speed through the middle will be too strong for Myponga.

McLaren by 8

Mount Compass v Goolwa

This will be a great test for new Compass Coach Fuss to see if the work done in the pre-season is paying off.

If Goolwa's Kylie Jarrett and Tahlia Griffiths are in attack together then they will be hard work for the Compass defenders.

Mount Compass by 7

Langhorne Creek v Yankalilla

This will be a great game between the young Yankalilla and the more experienced Creek girls.

I think that Creeks Brooke Tonkin and Yanks Kayla Ellis would be a great match up in the mid court. But I'm not the coach so I will have to wait and see how the teams line up.

It will be a very close game with both teams putting it all out on the court for the first game of the season.

Creek by 5