How do the Fever shape up with a new coach in 2022?

A NEW head coach for the West Coast Fever could mean a fresh start for the Fever, with the appointment of Dan Ryan announced to follow Stacey Marinkovich‘s stint in the role. But with Ryan’s return to Australia, does he bring any wholesale changes to the highly successful current squad? Draft Central takes a look at what Ryan could bring to the table.

What will Dan Ryan bring to the team?

There is no doubt that Ryan has an excellent netball brain, with his ability to spot patterns and adjust accordingly on show throughout the 2021 Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) season, coaching the Leeds Rhinos to their maiden finals campaign in their first season. Ryan navigated past his fair share of issues throughout his two years with the Rhinos both on and off the court, putting together an exciting team despite COVID limitations while also adjusting seamlessly to the squad’s injuries as the 2021 VNSL season played out.

Whilst Suncorp Super Netball will be a step up from the pressures of VNSL, Ryan has prior experience at the level with Adelaide Thunderbirds throughout the 2017-18 seasons, and has ultimately showcased how well he can bounce back to achieve success. Ryan’s ability to work through combinations has never been in question, and the former Australian men’s goaler has an eye for the extra bit of attacking flair the Fever may need to achieve the ultimate success.

At the end of the day, one of the major things Ryan brings to the table is a fresh start. With salary cap breaches, continuous hubs and a couple of missed opportunities on the SSN finals stage, the addition of Ryan could be exactly what the doctor ordered as the side looks for a refreshed start to 2022, valuing what Marinkovich created and curating an even more exciting lead into the club’s future.

Could Donnell Wallam earn a full-time contract? What about Caitlin Bassett?

Western Australian talent Donnell Wallam would be a huge get for the Fever, especially with potential of current goal shooter Jhaniele Fowler does not return after visiting family in Jamaica. The tall timber was a huge acquisition and has put the Fever in an excellent position over the past few seasons, and although her loss could prove difficult to navigate in the beginning, Wallam is a handy replacement in the goal circle with her strength and X-factor. Add in Wallam’s connection with Ryan with both coach and player spending time at Leeds Rhinos in the past year, and the developing Aussie talent could be the next big thing for the West.

While Wallam could be one huge acquisition, there is no doubt the return of former lynchpin Caitlin Bassett could also be the way forward for the Fever. The Australian Diamonds stalwart is as hard to stop as ever, and even while nursing an injury throughout the 2021 ANZ Premiership season with the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic, the goal shooter was accurate and confident on court. With confirmation Bassett has returned to her home state of Western Australia in rehab following knee surgery, the impressive goaler could add a huge burst of winning experience to the squad and help develop some of the club’s exciting training partners and additional talent.

Will we see wholesale changes across the squad?

Realistically, no. With a successful team at his disposal and just that premiership eluding the Fever at this stage, it is highly unlikely the side will be dealt huge changes. What could be interesting, however, is whether tactical changes will come into play, with potential for less reliance on Fowler if she were to stay with the squad. Undoubtably, a more significant impact off the hand of Fever’s goal attacks has been an issue at times throughout the past few years. Ryan’s ability to rotate through a variety of Rhinos goalers was impressive throughout the 2021 VNSL season, adjusting to Wallam’s Round 1/2 injury and proving the side was more than capable of holding up offensively despite missing a key piece of their puzzle.

It is safe to say that current captain Courtney Bruce is unlikely to leave her post at the Fever, while developing defender Sunday Aryang may be highly sought after during the off-season but has created an exciting combination with Bruce. With ongoing travel restrictions, it is most likely the squad’s two international recruits could be the players most likely to leave the fray, with Fowler and Stacey Francis-Bayman the two in question. Fowler’s absence would be a massive gamechanger for the side and there would be a clear adjustment period regardless of whether they picked up Wallam or Bassett – or any number of talented players – as her replacement. Francis-Bayman would be arguably easier to replace with plenty of developing defenders up to the task of a full-time contract, however her connections across the court are formidable and would take more than talent to replace.

One thing is safe to say, and that is that the acquisition of Ryan is an impressive get for a squad looking to the future, and there is plenty to come as the trading period plays out.


Picture credit: Suncorp Super Netball

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2 years ago

Loved Loved Loved watching Donnell Wallam this season for Leeds Rhinos. Her ability to hold and move and mix up her game was amazing to watch. I think she would be an incredible asset to West Coast Fever but only if Fowler doesn’t return. I don’t think there is room for both Shooters in the one team. They would be wasted if they had to share the position and Donnell’s strength is the GS position not at GA. For me, I’d choose Donnell over Fowler.