Netball World Cup – key player watch

Silver Fern midcourter Kate Heffernan (middle), Australian captain Liz Watson (top left), Jamaica’s Shamera Sterling (top right), South Africa defender Karla Pretorius (bottom left) and England shooter Eleanor Cardwell (bottom right).
Photo: Photosport

From the clinically reliable, to the entertainers of the game – sports reporter Bridget Tunnicliffe highlights five players to look out for at the Netball World Cup in South Africa.

Starting this Friday, 16 teams will gather for the sports pinnacle event in Cape Town, the first time the event is being hosted on African soil.

And while it’s considered the ultimate team sport, it’s not short of super stars.

England shooter Eleanor Cardwell

Eleanor Cardwell of England during the third Cadbury Netball Series/Taini Jamison Trophy, New Zealand Silver Ferns v England Roses, Christchurch Arena, Christchurch, New Zealand, 24th September 2021. Copyright photo: John Davidson /

Eleanor Cardwell of England.
Photo: © Photosport Ltd 2021

A dream debut season in Australia’s Super Netball league will give the confident shooter, even more confidence.

Every week Elle Cardwell came up against some of the toughest defenders in the world and that can only be a good thing for her temperament.

She possesses fantastic awareness of where the goal post is and almost treats it like a slot machine.

The 28-year-old is also happy to shoot from anywhere, which will be a huge asset to the Roses. Hard to believe that she started off her career as a defender, before shifting to the shooting end in 2015.

She’s stood up in several down to the wire matches during the SSN and could be the saving grace for England.

South African defender Karla Pretorius

Karla Pretorius of South Africa (SPAR Proteas)

Karla Pretorius
Photo: AFP

Karla Pretorius always has great World Cups. She first started getting noticed on the international stage on the back of her 2015 World Cup performances in Sydney.

In 2017 Silver Ferns coach Dame Noeline Taurua saw the potential in Pretorius and signed her up at the Sunshine Coast Lightning.

Access to better resources and one of the best coaches in the world, Pretorius took her game to another level.

In the space of a season she went from being known as a great player for South Africa, to becoming arguably the best goal defence in the world.

It culminated with her being named MVP at the 2019 World Cup and she will be crucial again for South Africa on home soil.

Australian wing attack Liz Watson

Diamonds wing attack Liz Watson

Diamonds wing attack Liz Watson
Photo: Photosport

The best wing attack in the world has an almost unrivalled work rate.

When the Silver Ferns met the Diamonds in the Quad Series final in January, Watson topped the stats across the court in feeds, goal assists, and was second for centre pass receives.

And she had zero general play turnovers, which is incredible considering how much she handles the ball.

Contain Liz Watson and you give yourself a chance of beating the Diamonds, that’s how influential the Australian captain is.

Watson is a great leader for Australia, she never looks particularly stressed out on court and has terrific game awareness.

Jamaican defender Shamera Sterling

Jamaica's Shamera Sterling celebrates after beating the Silver Ferns at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Jamaica’s Shamera Sterling celebrates

Shamera Sterling will always keep her side in the contest because she’ll win so much turnover ball for the Sunshine Girls.

Whether she is blocking a shot or somehow getting a clean intercept from behind, what the lanky defender can do sometimes defies gravity.

She can win ball just by putting fear and indecision into the opposition.

After winning a Premiership title with the Adelaide Thunderbirds this year after five years of trying, Sterling knows how to take on the best.

Sterling will be well supported by fellow defenders Latanya Wilson and Jodi-Ann Ward, who have also had fantastic Super Netball seasons in Australia.

New Zealand midcourter Kate Heffernan

Kate Heffernan of New Zealand Silver Ferns.

Kate Heffernan of New Zealand

Kate Heffernan made her Silver Ferns debut at last year’s Commonwealth Games and made the step up to international level instantly.

She’s a special athlete, having played a couple of matches for the New Zealand women’s cricket team before committing fully to netball.

You get the feeling Heffernan is a sponge and has got the capacity to keep growing her game.

Whether she plays at centre or wing defence in Cape Town, Heffernan will be a key cog for New Zealand and is a point of difference with her height in the midcourt.

She has the ability to come through for the most stealthy intercepts and her arm span is a major asset in the middle.

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