Watson scoops awards as Fowler crowned SSN’s best again

BECOMING just the second player in the past decade to earn two Liz Ellis Diamond trophies, Liz Watson was last night crowned Australia’s best overall domestic and international netballer. The midcourter starred throughout Melbourne Vixens’ season returning after missing the previous season through injury, then stepped up in a multitude of international events.

Watson was pivotal during the Diamonds’ wins at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, Quad Series and Constellation Cup, co-captaining the Vixens in between. The predominant wing attack who rolled into centre produced 405 goal assists during the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) season, having won her club’s best and fairest award too.

“I feel honoured to be awarded this year’s Liz Ellis Diamond,” Watson said at the awards night. “It has been a huge year and I am really proud to cap it off with this award. I am even more impressed by the talent and dedication shown by the team and staff across the Diamonds 2022 campaign.”

Watson also shared the International Player of the Year award alongside defender Courtney Bruce. The West Coast Fever star was staunch in her play and consistent throughout all the international clashes. As she was congratulated for her efforts, her Fever teammate up the other end of the court – Jhaniele Fowler won her fifth straight SSN Player of the Year.

Having only crossed to the SSN five years ago, Fever has been crowned the best player in each season. In 2022, Fowler scored 929 goals and 55 offensive rebounds, easily ranked first in the competition. Her goal tally was 38 more than her 891-goal effort in 2021. She was one of two shooters to earn individual accolades on the night, with Queensland Firebirds rising talent Donnell Wallam.

The proud Indigenous netballer won Australian hearts with her performances on and off the court. Wallam shot 519 goals at 86 per cent accuracy for the Firebirds, and then shot the winning goal against England in the opening test of the international series. She was rewarded with the SSN Rookie of the Year award.

Former Fever turned Diamonds coach Stacey Marinkovich won the Joyce Brown Coach of the Year for her success on the international circuit. She was in charge of spearheading the green and gold to victory in the Commonwealth Games, Constellation Cup, Quad Series and England test series.

In terms of the SSN Team of the Year, Fowler and Bruce were named at goal shooter and defence reserve respectively, with Watson unsurprisingly in at wing attack. NSW Swifts midcourter Maddy Proud (centre), the returning Gretel Bueta (goal attack) and past Rookie of the Year winner Amy Parmenter (wing defence) were all named in the team. Adelaide duo Shamera Sterling and Latanya Wilson rounded out the starting seven in the defensive circle, while GIANTS shooter Jo Harten and Magpies midcourter Kelsey Browne completed the team as reserves.

In other individual player awards, Melbourne Vixens’ Hannah Mundy was named Australian National Championships Player of the Year for her efforts in the second tier round robin tournament in August, while Tara Hinchliffe earned Fast5 Netball World Series Player of the Series.

Off the court, Stella Northey and Margaret Molina OAM were inducted into the Netball Australia Hall of Fame for their significant contributions to Australia Netball, while Chris Burton OAM earned Legend status in the Hall of Fame for her achievements as a player and umpire. Todd Miller (Service Award) and Jemma Cook (Lorna McConchie Umpire of the Year) were the other award winners on the night.

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