Super Netball Team of the Year: Mentor, Wood two of the most impressive in 2017


The inaugural Super Netball season is at an end, with some outstanding netball played across Australia before two new expansion teams did battle for the title of champions. It was huge season for the sides and fans alike, with the three expansion teams and the five established franchises taking the competition to a higher level than that of the trans-Tasman Championship.

The Giants and Sunshine Coast Lightning, whose chances were played down ahead of the competition, stepped up throughout the season and delivered some of the highlights of the year. The third expansion side, Collingwood Magpies, struggled and never quite lived up to their 'Super Team' tag in finishing the season in fourth.

But perhaps the biggest surprise of the season were the Melbourne Vixens, written off by many pundits, who defied expectations to take out the minor premiership only for their inexperience in finals to cost them at the penultimate hurdle.

So, in a competition full of superstars, who impressed across the season to make ESPN's Team of the Year?

GK: Geva Mentor (Sunshine Coast Lightning).

Leading her side to the inaugural Super Netball title, Geva Mentor was perhaps the most impressive player throughout this year's competition. Taking the reins of the newly established side, Mentor faced no easy the task in bringing together 10 players from across Australia and the world to create a championship-winning team, but her on-court skills were every bit as outstanding to see her named in the Team of the Year.

We've seen her toil away previously at Melbourne Vixens, but this season she took another step up and dominated the competition from the opening round all the way through to the Lightning's phenomenal grand final win.

With the most offensive rebounds [39], most deflections [90] and second-most intercepts [41] in the competition, the Englishwoman was a force to be reckoned with in the Lighting defensive circle. Able to manipulate any player under the post with her impossibly fast feet -- which were witnessed throughout the Lightning's win over the Giants last weekend -- Mentor bested shooters throughout the season.

GD: Bec Bulley (Giants)

Returning from a year away from the game after giving birth to her daughter, Bec Bulley was a late call up to the Giants ahead of the season opener but she proved to be one of their most influential players.

Bulley was the most experienced player in the competition -- she played her 200th national league game in Round 5 -- and her experience definitely showed throughout the season.

She may not have led the competition stats list, but she still made her presence felt at the defensive end. Earning 11 rebounds, 51 deflections and 17 intercepts, Bulley had a high work-rate, and was responsible for some of the Giants' standout moments.

With the loss of Kim Green to injury halfway through the season, Bulley's ability to fill the leadership void helped the Giants secure a spot in the big dance.

WD: Ash Brazill (Collingwood Magpies)

While her side stumbled throughout their inaugural season, Ash Brazill was on fire from the get go -- consistently impressing in a role that can so easily be overlooked.

Brazill made her present felt in all her games as she silenced some of the competition's best wing-attacks, while also picking up loose balls and making a nuisance of herself when the opposition was attempting to bring the ball down court.

A defensive demon, she produced 39 deflections and 26 intercepts in keeping attacks away from the circle edge and forcing passes into the circle. But she was also an important piece in the Magpies' use of turnover ball down court and to the shooters, with the 27-year-old earning four goal assists and receiving 69 centre passes.

C: Kate Moloney (Melbourne Vixens)

The youngest captain of the competition (alongside Queensland Firebirds captain Gabbi Simpson), at just 24-years-old, Kate Moloney was given the mammoth task of leading a side that had been picked apart by recruiters in the lead up to the season. Undaunted, she stood up to the challenge and led the largely inexperienced side to the preliminary finals and a minor premiership.

Cool, calm and collected, Moloney embodied all that the Vixens aimed to be across the court as they built consistency throughout the season. Her connection with wing-attack Liz Watson was vital, but her defensive work also gave the Vixens the extra strength in the spine they needed.

Collecting 14 intercepts and 21 deflections, as well as 151 goal assists, Moloney was impressive at both ends of the court and, with more experience, is sure to lead her side to further final series.

WA: Madi Robinson (Collingwood Magpies)

One of a highly rated bunch of wing-attacks heading into the season, Madi Robinson proved she was not only the best of the competition but also one of the best in the world with her ability to find space and send pinpoint accurate passes to her shooters.

Robinson assumed the captaincy role for the new side, and proved to be the glue that held the Magpies together.

Teaming with one of the best shooters in Australian netball, Robinson was able to easily slot the ball wherever needed in the circle; her cunning, strong drives always put the Magpies in a solid position.

Second in the season for goal assists, [248] and second in centre pass receives [309] while also securing four intercepts, Robinson proved a workhorse across her end and produced some of Super Netball's best plays into the circle.

GA: Stephanie Wood (Sunshine Coast Lightning)

Making her debut for the Lightning in round four, Wood quickly found her place alongside shooter Catilin Bassett and proved a defining factor in the Lightning's title run.

A pocket-rocket in the circle, Wood's ability to finagle her way around the defence and under the post was outstanding as she bamboozled some of the best defenders while slotting goals from around the circle.

Her performance in the Lightning's grand final win was a demonstration of how fierce this young competitor is. Nerves seemed to get the best of her early in the match, but the 25-year-old rallied to produce strong leads and provide essential work alongside Bassett in the circle. With shooting accuracy of 80 percent throughout the final, missing just four from 20 attempts, and an average shooting accuracy of 82 percent throughout the season, Wood has been one of the most accurate goal-attacks in the competition.

Despite her small stature, Wood also secured three rebounds and earned two intercepts alongside her 185 goals for the season.

GS: Mwai Kumwenda (Melbourne Vixens)

Mwai Kumwenda was an integral part of the Vixens' season, and one of the most entertaining players to watch.

She may not be the tallest shooter in the competition, but Kumwenda's ability to create holes at the top of the circle and to jump high to secure even the most lopsided of passes saw the Malawian dominate several of Australia's best defensive players.

Kumwenda rarely made an error and her accuracy at goal was amazing in slotting 518 goals at 92 percent, the second-best percentage for the year.

Her energy during the game was contagious -- constantly waving her arms, clapping and screaming in order to boost her teammates -- while she also frustrated her defenders as she dodged and twirled her way to impressive goals.