Medhurst Departure Could be the Fever’s Making
It’s the gamble that would have been unthinkable for West Coast Fever two years ago.
Yet cutting Nat Medhurst could be the move that strengthens the club’s chances of a breakthrough Suncorp Super Netball title in 2019.
For five seasons Medhurst was the go-to player in green for a side striving to lift its status to that of a premiership contender.
She captained the Fever, twice won the club’s most valuable player award and contributed to two finals campaigns.
The 34-year-old’s axing in August shocked the netball community but the Fever are building a new style they believe can help erase the pain of their runner-up finish last season.
Midcourters Verity Charles, Ingrid Colyer and Jessica Anstiss have served their apprenticeship and will now be given the authority, and the space, to lead the team in a new direction.
“Only time will tell how that goes,” commentator and Fever specialist coach Sue Gaudion said.
“You don’t know what her replacements are capable of. Nat’s known to get a lot of ball but in her absence, it creates an opportunity for players in the midcourt to really step up and express themselves.”
Medhurst has played 220 games for the Thunderbirds, Firebirds and Fever. Her deal with Collingwood Magpies will almost certainly see her overtake Susan Pettitt (232) and Bec Bulley (228) as Australia’s most capped player in the national league.
The goal attack was prominent in three World Cup winning teams for Australia and in 2011 was a star during the Firebirds’ undefeated premiership win.
“You can’t deny her stats and she’s an experienced player who has stepped up when it counts,” Gaudion said.
“It takes time to replace big-game experience. The only way to do that is experience those big moments and the Fever will have to work their way through that.
“She’s a player who wants to win and has white line fever. That’s hard to replace.”
The Fever’s challenge will be to find the ideal shooting circle partnership for Jhaniele Fowler.
Kaylia Stanton was Medhurst’s partner in 2017 but coach Stacey Marinkovich has been working on her skills at goal attack.
Recruit Alice Teague-Neeld showed promising signs at the Vixens but did not grab the opportunity to clinch a starting spot at the Magpies.
Both have made single-game impacts in the national league but Marinkovich will demand consistency.
“They’ll fight like cats and dogs for that spot,” Gaudion said.