International Standouts – December 2021

IN a new monthly feature power rankings - where international competition is concerned - we take a look at those individuals who have shone the brightest across the globe. It only includes athletes who have taken part across international duty and therefore for this month, includes Roses, Thistles, Sunshine Girls and Bajan Gems players.

The Power Rankings
  • Natalie Metcalf
    Natalie Metcalf
    England | Wing Attack

    The Roses wing attack was superb throughout the entire Roses Reunited Series, earning Player of the Series honours, and a Player of the Match gong for game two. She rightfully earns the top spot in the rankings given she was the top player in the highest profile series. Haythornthwaite has always been a clean feeder into the circle, and was instrumental throughout the front third to be able to set up multiple goalers with her slick passing.

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  • Eleanor Cardwell
    Eleanor Cardwell
    England | Goal Attack

    An absolutely outstanding performance from the goal shooter, who initially came on 10 minutes into the second quarter of the first game. She replaced an out-of-sorts Helen Housby and immediately sparked the Roses, continuing that form throughout the series. Has cemented her spot as the clear third shooting option for England, with her strong holds, and consistency putting the ball to post among her strengths. Offers something different to both Housby and Jo Harten in the circle.

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  • Shamera Sterling
    Shamera Sterling
    Adelaide Thunderbirds | Goal Keeper

    The enigmatic defender provided a bit of everything throughout the series, earning Player of the Match honours in Jamaica’s game three win. Sterling’s athleticism and reach has long been a worry for opposition feeders, and she really showcased that in the series, particularly in game three. Her intercepting ability, and reading of the play was superb, and even though she earned a caution for her niggling – and showed her frustration at times – Sterling was a standout for the Jamaicans throughout the series.

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  • Eboni Usoro-Brown
    Eboni Usoro-Brown
    England | Goal Defence

    Stepping onto the international court for the first time in more than two years, Usoro-Brown not only came on and played her role, but for the first two games, nullified high-volume shooter Jhaniele Fowler. Whilst Fowler got the better of her – and the other circle defenders – in game three, Usoro-Brown could certainly hold her head high throughout the series. She consistently got to the right spots, played front position and planted the feet, which forced the Jamaican feeders to put the ball in even higher. Whilst Fowler would often use her height and reach to pluck the ball from Usoro-Brown’s arms, the English defender could not have done much more.

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  • Jhaniele Fowler
    Jhaniele Fowler
    Jamaica | Goal Shooter

    Regarded as the world’s best shooter, Fowler achieved exactly what you would want from her. As the clear tallest player on the court, the 198cm shooter piled on the goals throughout the three games, though it could be argued she only really dominated the third match. But even not dominating, on sheer numbers alone she earns this spot, and it was more about the feeding into her for the first two games that limited her impact rather than anything she did wrong.

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  • Layla Guscoth
    Layla Guscoth
    England | Goal Defence

    Teaming up nicely with Usoro-Brown – and Stacey Francis-Bayman at times – Guscoth was consistent as always through the goal defence bib. She had the task of trying to assist the goalkeeper in double-teaming Fowler, and provided some nice aerial work throughout the series. Not only was she accountable and strong defensively, but she was able to make a number of crucial intercepts going forward. Guscoth used all of her experience and tricks to complement a strong back third for the Roses and earns sixth spot on our rankings.

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  • Serena Guthrie
    Serena Guthrie
    England | Centre

    The experienced Roses midcourter was superb throughout the series, and continually worked hard up and down the court to cover some serious ground. Playing centre in the first two games, and then starting wing defence in the third, Guthrie’s ability to not only cover ground, but not leave anything out on the court is what makes her so unique. She put her body on the line multiple times to keep the ball in Roses hands, and either tipped, deflected or intercepted a number of Sunshine Girls transitional moves to throw off the Jamaican attacking end, and set up an attacking transitional play for the Roses.

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  • Niamh McCall
    Niamh McCall
    Scotland | Wing Attack

    It was always going to be tough to decide when to include the first Thistles player after they had an outstanding couple of games against Barbados. Always difficult to weigh up when considering the opposition difficulty, McCall provided consistent shots to post time and time again throughout the two matches. She was as reliable as Cardwell was in the Roses series, so is deserving of the top gong for Scotland. She provided enough work both off her own hands and in support of Emma Barrie, to suggest she could have even stepped up to the Roses Reunited Series without too much fuss. A developing talent with great upside and a penchant to shoot from anywhere in the circle.

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  • Emily Nicholl
    Emily Nicholl
    Scotland | Goal Defence

    Neck-and-neck with McCall for the best player of the series for Scotland, Nicholl was impressive in game one, and then earned Player of the Match honours in game two against Barbados. She was a steady head up the defensive end, chopping off opportunities for the Bajan Gems shooters, and balancing between offensive and defensive moves. She was clean, precise and clever with her positioning and passing, and really showcased what she is capable of in the goal circle. Not afraid to run off her opponent and provide attacking forays for her side, Nicholl was a massive player for Scotland and will be crucial for their Commonwealth Games charge.

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  • Latanya Wilson
    Latanya Wilson
    Jamaica | Goal Defence

    The third Jamaican to make the list, Wilson comes in at number 10 with her work between centre and wing defence critical for the Sunshine Girls. Naturally a defender, Wilson can play in so many different positions, though was able to hone in on her midcourt game for this series. She was good through centre, but great through wing defence, able to reduce Haythornthwaite’s impact in the third game. Though she received a warning for persistent contact late in game three and had to come off for a breather, Wilson was able to return and still play her natural game. She plays on the edge with an aggressive nature, but is so clever and positions herself well.

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  • Iona Christian
    Iona Christian
    Scotland | Centre

    Earning a Player of the Match on debut in the first test, Christian certainly made a big impact in a shot amount of time for the Thistles. Christian was thrown into the action at wing attack, and looked like a 10-year veteran rather than a debutant. She teamed up well with Hannah Leighton in midcourt and was able to feed McCall and Emma Barrie consistently throughout the match. She also showed she could play further up the court and work hard up there to win the ball defensively, completing an all-round impressive game.

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  • Kadie-Ann Dehaney
    Kadie-Ann Dehaney
    Jamaica | Goal Keeper

    The Sunshine Girls defender provided great accountability through the defensive goal circle, even if at times she was beaten one-on-one by Cardwell. Dehaney was able to read the ball in flight well and get to the right position quickly, with the Roses feeders needing to have a few different plans to outsmart the Jamaican defender. Though she received a caution in the third game like the rest of the Jamaican defenders, Dehaney proved she is a crucial cog in the circle, with her ability to double-team opposing shooters with her long arms and court coverage.

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  • Hannah Leighton
    Hannah Leighton
    Celtic Dragons | Goal Defence

    Right up there with Christian in terms of impact through the midcourt, Leighton was outstanding on debut. She was clearly one of the best through both tests, but particularly the first, where she rotated through the centre bib and left nothing out on the court. Looking to impress ahead of the Commonwealth Games next year, Leighton certainly did just that, with her feeding and quick hands – as well as court coverage and positioning at the top of the circle – a feature of her game. She has some great upside for the future and is another Thistles talent who will only get better with time.

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  • Beth Cobden
    Beth Cobden
    England | Centre

    Only playing the two games, Cobden earned a spot here because of her impact in that time. She was able to intercept time and time again, and if it was not a clean intercept, she forced an error from the opposition, or tipped the ball to her teammate’s favour. In her two games on court, Cobden dominated against her direct opponent, so much so the Jamaicans were not entirely sure which player to put at wing attack. England was still keen to rotate options through midcourt, so Cobden was rested for the final match.

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  • Jo Harten
    Jo Harten
    England | Goal Attack

    Perhaps not as dominant performance as she could put up, but Harten earns a place for her ability to step up when required. She was good for arguably 50 per cent of her time on court, and outstanding for about 25 per cent of it, providing a couple of momentum-building runs. Her long-bomb ability did not desert her, and she was able to provide great support to Cardwell predominantly. Often drawing her defender out of the circle by going high, it allowed the likes of Guthrie and Haythornthwaite to feed the ball into Cardwell who found herself one-on-one with a lighter-built defender, which ultimately helped England win.

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  • Emma Barrie
    Emma Barrie
    Scotland | Goal Shooter

    Gaining confidence by the game, Barrie was able to get better the longer she was out there, playing a half in the first game and three quarters in the second. It is easy to forget she is still 19-years-old, but the talented teen is able to put up a lot of goals, and once her consistency improves, she could be even more damaging. Her best shot seems to be from a mid-circle attempt more so than under the post, though when having the time to compose herself, looked really impressive. In the second game, Barrie was able to even feed off some assists to McCall which threw off the Barbados defence.

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  • Claire Maxwell
    Claire Maxwell
    Scotland | Centre

    A steady head in a young side, Maxwell was exactly what the Thistles needed for their defensive midcourt. She provided the stability and tenacity required, Maxwell looked like she had hardly missed any netball coming back from having a baby. She played her role throughout the series, with accountable play and composure with ball-in-hand. Her work between the transverse lines was solid throughout the three games and played an underrated, but important role.

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  • Adean Thomas
    Adean Thomas
    Jamaica | Centre

    Another Jamaican comes into the list at number 18 in Thomas, who provided some much-needed spark through the midcourt. Going down with an ankle injury early in game three, Thomas was looking good in that first quarter after a solid first couple of games. She has nice tenacity and able to feed the ball going forward, reading it well in transition. Though still building her consistency, and is one of a number of Jamaicans who needs to lock down her spot as an automatic starter, Thomas has the signs of developing well into the future.

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  • Helen Housby
    Helen Housby
    England | Goal Attack

    After a slow start – she was subbed off 10 minutes into the second quarter of game one – Housby was able to really come on an impact in games two and three when required. Though she did not start – Cardwell had earned that honour – on both occasions the Roses shooter piled on goals in quick succession. She was able to swing the momentum in the home nation’s favour, and really staked her case as an impact player as much as a starter. She continually worked hard and fed the ball when she was not shooting it, Housby worked herself into form by the end of the series.

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  • Shonica Wharton
    Shonica Wharton
    Barbados | Goal Keeper

    It is only fair to squeeze a Bajan Gems player onto the list, and Wharton was the one that stood out. Her ability to put ball to post regularly seems underrated on the international stage. Her shooting motion is uncomplicated and consistent, and she can shoot anywhere from under the post, mid-circle or long-range. Wharton also has great strength to hold her position, and with her clean, strong takes, Wharton can win the ball and produce some high-volume shooting that can, at the very least, reward her side for getting the ball to her.

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Next Best

There were a number of players who could have been considered for the list, with Rachel Conway the other starter from Scotland at goal keeper. Meanwhile, Caitlin Pringle replaced her, and the likes of Bethan Goodwin, Nicola McCleery and Sarah Macphail all received time, as did another debutant in Kalea Stagg. Latonia Blackman and Shonette Azore-Bruce among the best Bajan Gems. Sabreena Smith and Faye Agard also had some strong moments despite the two heavy losses. England provided the likes of Laura Malcolm, Imogen Allison, George Fisher and Fran Williams with some, albeit limited opportunities. Jamaica's other standouts were Khadijah Williams, Shanice Beckford, Gezelle Allison and Shadian Hemings who all received plenty of court time, particularly Beckford who was in goal attack for the entire series.

In The Mix

Overall it is always difficult to determine a rankings for one series, let alone two, but there were a number of players who stood above and beyond, and earned their spots on this list.

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