2021 ANZ Premiership – Team of the Year

WITH the grand final around the corner Draft Central has compiled its 2021 ANZ Premiership Team of the Year based on the number of times players have made it into the Team of the Week. It is no surprise that a number of players from both the Mainland Tactix and Northern Mystics have made their way into the side given their impressive campaigns so far while the Northern Stars are also heavily represented.

GS: Grace Nweke (Northern Mystics)
GA: Jamie Hume (Northern Stars)
WA: Peta Toeava (Northern Mystics)
C: Mila Reuelu-Buchanan (Northern Stars)
WD: Charlotte Elley (Mainland Tactix)
GD: Karin Burger (Mainland Tactix)
GK: Anna Harrison (Northern Stars)

BENCH: George Fisher (Southern Steel), Maddy Gordon (Central Pulse), Jane Watson (Mainland Tactix)

There are not enough superlatives for 19-year-old goal shooter Grace Nweke who only continued to thrive under the limelight. A lynchpin in the circle for the Northern Mystics, Nweke was just about unstoppable throughout the season and with one game to go will be eager to keep that trajectory going. Her strength and aerial ability is second to none, with the goal shooter able to post up 60-plus goals per game without a problem while her accuracy hardly ever wavers making her an easy selection for our Team of the Year. The goal attack decision was a little bit trickier but in the end it was Jamie Hume that got the nod with the Northern Stars goaler really elevating her game this season. Hume came into her own, taking the game on with her crafty movement and confidence to go to post, and proved more than once that she can withstand the pressure and prevail with her clever footwork and vision into the circle.

Through the midcourt it is hard to go past wing attack and Northern Mystics livewire, Peta Toeava. She is one of, if not the most creative attacking players in the league with her ability to make something out of nothing one of her key characteristics. Toeava has speed to burn around circle edge and is not afraid to deliver ball into the shooters from just about anywhere in the attacking third such is her confidence and skill. Northern Stars midcourter Mila Reuelu-Buchanan takes out the centre bib after being a consistent figure through the middle. Her two-way running and ability to help out at both ends of the court was imperative for the Stars as she could get a hand in down in defence and then impact up the other end in attack. One of the unsung heroes in the Mainland Tactix outfit, Charlotte Elley did not get the accolades she deserved but was influential down back. Able to dig in and do her job, Elley was cool, calm and collected out in wing defence using her wingspan to employ some strong hands over pressure to block the vision of her opposition. She is deceptively quick off the mark and that came in handy when trying to combat a host of nimble wing attacks.

It is no surprise that both Karin Burger and Anna Harrison take out the defensive end in our Team of the Year given the stellar campaigns the two have had this season – even though Burger’s is not over yet. The goal defence well and truly found her feet in her new role and new club, proving to be a real thorn in everyone’s side with her defensive craft and smarts. Burger leads the competition in intercepts such is her spatial awareness and capacity to close down space within a blink of an eye. Making her way out of retirement this season, Harrison had a point to prove and did just that each and every time she stepped out on court. The long-limbed defender did not leave a single ball uncontested, taking advantage of her closing speed to create deflections and turnovers aplenty. Her aerial ability was impressive while her timing over the shot was also outstanding.

In her first season in the ANZ Premiership George Fisher well and truly made a name for herself with the England international imposing herself under the post for the Steel, displaying her accuracy to post and all-round composure. Joining her on the bench is Maddy Gordon with the Pulse midcourter thrown around this season often switching between wing defence, centre and wing attack. The final bench spot goes to Mainland Tactix defender Jane Watson who switched back to goal keeper this season and utilised her physicality and cleanliness to reel in ball and rack up the deflections.

Notable mentions go to Sulu Fitzpatrick and Taneisha Fifita down back while through the midcourt Gina Crampton and Kate Heffernan were also up there. Inside the goal circle Khiarna Williams made an impact while Te Amo Amaru-Tibble also just fell short.

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