2021 ANZ Premiership: Top 10 quiet achievers – #7 Sam Winders

NOW that the ANZ Premiership season has come to a close Draft Central takes a look back at some of the quiet achievers that effectively plied their trade throughout the year. Courageous Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic captain, Sam Winders takes out number seven on the countdown.

With a number of big name recruits and a huge shake-up over the off-season the one thing that remained the same was the workload and leadership of Winders. The centre provided a steady link between both ends of the court and offered a sense of calmness with her steady approach to the game. she did not blaze away, instead lowered her eyes each and every time she got the ball and worked in overdrive to treasure possession.

The addition of Caitlin Bassett in the goal circle, drew plenty of attention as did the acquisition of Grace Kara but Winders was not fazed by the notable names, just getting down to business and often flying under the radar. When she hit her straps the Magic had a real aura of confidence and although they only won one game for the entire season showed plenty of growth and development. With Kara in and out of the team with injury, it was up to Winders to lead the charge in attack and get the ball down to Bassett nine times out of 10. She showcased great patience and while she was hesitant at the start grew with confidence to bomb the ball long into the holding goal shooter. The Magic captain was a real barometer for her side, able to dictate the flow in attack and defence with her vision and overall smarts.

Winders is a real heart and soul type of player with her passion and contagious energy a couple of main features in her craft. She does not receive a lot of accolades, given the amount of work that she does off the ball that does not register a statistic. Her ability to read the play and do the hard yards in defence is second to none and that was well and truly on display throughout the 2021 season with Winders proving to be a nuisance around circle edge with her continuous tips and deflections.

The Magic midcourter showcased her versatility and smarts to switch into her traditional role of wing defence when needed to provide that extra defensive edge. Her hands over pressure and shadowing style of defence allowed her to run amuck and cause turnovers aplenty while her hustle and desperation to win the ball also spurred her on.

Winders finished with 21 deflections, 34 pickups and 10 intercepts to her name highlighting her defensive nous. It did not stop there though as she also registered an impressive 465 feeds across her 15 games a further testament to her work rate to be a commanding presence in attack.

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