How will fantastic Fran help a new-look Fever in 2024?

WHEN the team lists for the Netball Super League for 2024 were released, questions started flying after Fran Williams’ name was not on any of the lists.

However, in a matter of time it was revealed she was moving across the other side of the world to join the West Coast Fever in the Suncorp Super Netball.

She joins a West Coast Fever side that will look very different to the one that took the court in 2023.

Of the Fever side for 2024, only four members of the squad were also in the side in 2023 – Alice Teague-Neeld, Jessica Anstiss, Jhaniele Fowler and Sunday Aryang. However with all these changes, Williams is well timed and she will fill a huge need that the Fever have.

This offseason has the Fever lose spiritual defensive leader Courtney Bruce, with her departure to the other side of the country leaving a huge hole in the back court.

But, bringing in Williams will mean an essentially like-for-like replacement, with Williams bringing many of the same qualities to the netball course that Bruce does.

Bruce and Williams are similar heights, with the former only four centimetres taller than the latter. They also play similar styles, really using their height and strong timing skills to their advantage to help intercept the ball.

Although Bruce’s deflection numbers were higher in 2023 than Williams’, Williams stacks up to Bruce in other ways. Both players had the same number of gains across the season, but Williams had almost double the number of intercepts that Bruce did.

The change will work well if Williams slots straight into that goal keeper role, as opposed to the goal defence role she more naturally found herself in in 2023.

Intercepts are a more certain form of turnover and gain of possession, and with the more mobile goal shooters that are generally found in compared to the ones in the NSL, that kind of certainty is crucial.

Williams also provides that added dose of versatility to the Fever defence.

She can play both goal keeper and goal defence, which will allow her to take the court with both Aryang and Kadie-Ann Dehaney, or perhaps all three can take the court at once, and gives coach Dan Ryan that extra option in case plans do not go right.

However, this is Williams’ first season in the SSN, and it may take time for her to adjust to the different style of netball played in Australia compared to what she is used to in England.

However, she is used to moving around teams and surely will not take too long to settle into the Australian system. She also has a coach who has a background in the NSL and knows what the transition between leagues is like, so is sure to have helpful advice for her.

She is also going to be in a tough battle for a position in that starting seven, battling two other defenders who are also members of their respective national teams, and have also been playing in the SSN a lot longer than she has.

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