Five Things we learned from the 2024 Team Girls Cup

1 – It’s certainly been a challenging start for Mavericks

It’s certainly been a tough initiation for the Melbourne Mavericks and their coach Tracey Neville. She must be wondering what she’s gotten herself into, because Super Netball’s newest team will be without two of their original 10 signings before round one even comes around.

Just five weeks after star shooter Sasha Glasgow went down with a horrific lower leg injury, Neville saw her defender Lauren Moore suffer a serious knee injury at the Team Girls Cup in Sydney. Unfortunately, scans have revealed that Moore suffered a torn ACL, meaning she will miss the whole season and a replacement will be needed to fill her position.

Meanwhile, the search has been on for Glasgow’s replacement, and initially it seemed that Shimona Jok (formerly Nelson) would be the obvious replacement, having played well for the Magpies last season. But recently-signed training partner Rolene Streutker from South Africa, was given the chance to impress at the Team Girls Cup, and that she did. She offers something different to Jok, so it will be interesting to see which way the team eventually goes.

While Mavericks finished the tournament without a win, they managed a draw with Fever and were competitive in every game, losing to Firebirds by one, Swifts by three, and Giants by four. They showed enough to suggest they may be able to trouble all of the established teams. With Neville at the helm, who knows how far they can go?


Mavericks’ defender Lauren Moore went down with a knee injury on Sunday. Image: May Bailey/Netball Scoop


Will Rolene Streutker be teaming up with Eleanor Cardwell this year? Image: May Bailey/Netball Scoop


Or will it be Shimona Jok? Image: May Bailey/Netball Scoop



2 – Suncorp Super Netball is so even and close right now

One of the features of Suncorp Super Netball in 2023, was the overall closeness of the competition. It was the closest in the seven year history of the league, with numerous small margins and matches regularly being decided in the final seconds.

If the Team Girls Cup is any indication, that is set to continue in 2024, and as hard as it is to believe, perhaps this season could be even more exciting. Of the 16 matches played in Sydney last weekend, 11 of them were decided by just four goals or less. That compares to seven matches in last year’s event, and just five in 2022.

By now, Dan Ryan and the West Coast Fever must be heartily sick of close matches. In SSN in 2023, Fever lost six times. Incredibly, the margins in those matches were one, one, one, one, three, and one. Here again, all four games that Fever played in Sydney were thrillers; a two-goal win, a draw, and two more one-goal defeats to finish the competition.

Given what had gone before over the weekend, it was no surprise at all to see the Team Girls Cup grand final between Melbourne Vixens and NSW Swifts go right down to the wire on Sunday afternoon. After a thrilling contest which was close all the way, Swifts were able to grab the lead late through Helen Housby and hold on for another one-goal win to claim the title.


Firebirds celebrate a close win against Fever. Image: May Bailey/Netball Scoop


Steph Fretwell led Lightning to a narrow win, also over Fever. Image: May Bailey/Netball Scoop


The Swifts bench celebrates their thrilling one goal win in the grand final. Image: May Bailey/Netball Scoop



3 – Big off season signings have created a lot of interest

If there’s one criticism that could be levelled at super Netball in recent years, it’s been a lack of big name signings and high profile player moves. Well, all that certainly changed in this off-season with a chaotic signing period. There was a lot of interest at the Team Girls Cup in Sydney to see how some of the new recruits would fare.

In particular, the sight of Liz Watson and Courtney Bruce in Lightning colours really took some getting used to. They both eased into things somewhat on the weekend, but it would be a brave person to tip against them having a big year.

Bruce’s former team, West Coast Fever, has a fresh look with a few new names on the list, most notably England Roses captain Fran Williams in defence, and Shanice Beckford in the shooting circle. Meanwhile, the Giants are boasting a former Silver Fern in their line up this year, with Sam Winders in the midcourt.

Some of the members of the Magpies team from last year, have found new homes, particularly Kelsey Browne at Fever, Sophie Garbin at Vixens, and Jodi-Ann Ward at Giants. Ward had a tremendous Team Girls Cup and at this stage, she looks like a terrific signing. These are just some of the new names creating interest this season.


Lightning’s two big name signings, Courtney Bruce and Liz Watson. Image: May Bailey/Netball Scoop


England Rose Fran Williams is a new signing at Fever. Image: May Bailey/Netball Scoop


Jodi-Ann Ward impressed with her new team Giants. Image: May Bailey/Netball Scoop



4 – There is so much young talent in Australia

The Team Girls Cup was a good opportunity for teams to test some of their younger talent, both fully fledged team members and training partners. And the result left us wanting more.

The first player to highlight is midcourter Zara Walters who stepped into the Liz Watson-sized shoes very well at Vixens. She starred over the weekend, racking up 47 assists, and showing that she’s more than ready for SSN this year. Also at Vixens, young shooter Lily Graham performed well from limited opportunities.

Three others who impressed were Firebirds defender Isabelle Shearer, and two shooters; Fever’s Olivia Wilkinson and Thunderbirds’ Lauren Frew. Shearer finished with 10 possession gains in just over 65 minutes of game time, while Wilkinson and Frew both slotted into the goal attack role well and showed that a starting position is not out of the question.

Meanwhile, Sunday’s sister, Ruth Aryang, was just one of numerous training partners from all teams that showed promise in Sydney. The young Australian netball talent is out there. Here’s hoping they can all get the opportunities they deserve.


Zara Walters of the Vixens had a terrific tournament. Image: May Bailey/Netball Scoop


Young Firebirds defender Isabelle Shearer impressed. Image: May Bailey/Netball Scoop


Olivia Wilkinson slotted in nicely at Fever. Image: May Bailey/Netball Scoop


5 – If this was any guide, 2024 promises so much

The Team Girls Cup really whetted our appetites for the season ahead. While some teams may seem better placed than others, there is no outstanding favourite for the title, and there were reasons why fans of all eight teams could feel optimistic after the events of the weekend. And some of the stars of the competition also showed that they’re ready to wow us again this year.

Last year’s SSN Player of the Year, Shamera Sterling-Humphrey, started 2024 just as she finished 2023. Dominating. In the very first game, she had eight possession gains in the first half against the Vixens. Another Thunderbird who looks set for a big year based on the weekend is Georgie Horjus, who moved seamlessly between wing attack and goal attack.

For Swifts, Maddy Proud was voted Player of the Final while another star, Helen Housby, demonstrated all her skills and temperament once again, helping to lift her team over the line in the final. Meanwhile, the much awaited SSN debut of Australia’s World Cup shooting combination, Sophie Garbin and Kiera Austin, got off to a shaky start on Friday, but come the weekend, they really clicked into gear and showed they will be a force in the competition for the Vixens.

The Giants’ Sophie Dwyer demonstrated that she has gained confidence from her Diamonds selection and is ready to take the next step and dominate the circle. And at Fever, Alice Teague-Neeld just keeps doing what she does best, continuing to rack up the assists and combining so well with Jhaniele Fowler-Nembhard. Then there is Donnell Wallam at the Firebirds, Eleanor Cardwell at the Mavericks, and that star-studded Lightning line up featuring four current or recently-retired Diamonds will surely have all other teams worried.

There is so much to look forward to, come Saturday, April 13.


Shamera Sterling-Humphrey just carried on from where she left off last year. Image: May Bailey/Netball Scoop


Helen Housby and the Swifts look set for another big year. Image: May Bailey/Netball Scoop


The Garbin/Austin combo clicked into gear on the weekend. Image: May Bailey/Netball Scoop


Sophie Dwyer had a strong tournament for Giants. Image: May Bailey/Netball Scoop


Alice Teague-Neeld continued racking up the assists. Image: May Bailey/Netball Scoop

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