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Which Wing Defenders are leading the way this season?

Via Christian Eshman, Sports Manager Champion Data

THIS WEEK I LOOK AT A POSITION THAT DOESN’T JUMP OUT AT YOU WHEN IT COMES TO MVP AWARDS OR STAT GETTERS.

Whilst they do a massive amount of work, the attackers in the forward third or the defenders in the shooting circle get all the accolades.

But I guarantee the importance of the wing defence is not lost with their team mates. Wing defence is truly a combination between defence and attack. They have to push back to help stop the ball getting into their defensive circle, but they also play an integral part of a team’s attacking ability to get the ball through the mid court to the goal getters up front.

This season there has been 17 players that have played in wing defence at one time or another but there has only been three players that every game, every minute have played in wing defence – Gabi Simpson (Firebirds), Ash Brazill(Magpies) and Abbey McCulloch (Swifts). Jamie-Lee Price (Giants) falls short by one quarter having played 23 quarters at Wing Defence and one quarter (12 minutes) at centre in Round 5.

I tried to create a simple ranking system like I did with the goal keeper and goal defence positions, but due to the large number of players that have played in other more stat driven positions such as centre and wing attack this was quite difficult.

I made some assumptions and decided to only rank players that have played over 75 per cent of the season at wing defence. There is only six teams with a player represented and not surprisingly it is the top six teams. The ranking points I used was similar to what I use two weeks ago. Even though wing defence can feed into the circle therefore get awarded a goal assist if a goal is scored, I took those two stats out as it favoured the players that had spent a considerable amount of time in centre.

The Firebirds may have lost two key defenders heading into Suncorp Super Netball, but their two-time premiership player and captain is leading the way for the inexperienced Firebirds defensive end. Gabi Simpson leads six out of the ten ranking stats. She has the most centre pass receives (37), intercepts (10), loose ball pick-ups (16) and obstructions conceded (5).  This gives Simpson 23.5 ranking points per game.

Followed closely behind is Ash Brazill for the Magpies. Brazill is another attacking centre pass option for the Magpies receiving the centre pass 36 times. She also taken eight intercepts and deflected the ball 15 times. The one area where Brazill lost some ranking points was with her high contact count with 57 for the season. But that is more an indication of the Magpies aggressive style of defending more than a negative in Brazill’s game. Brazill averages 21.8 ranking points per game.

The next three players are all averaging virtually the same. Madeline McAuliffe from the Lightning has only turned the ball over three times all season. She is averaging 20.8 ranking points per game. The Swifts ever reliable captain Abbey McCulloch is close behind with 20.4 ranking points. McCulloch leads the way for wing defenders with only 32 contacts which is only 5.3 per game. The top five is rounded out by young gun Jamie-Lee Price who averages 20.2 ranking points per game. She leads the way for deflections with 17 for the season.

Having a settled wing defence is a huge benefit for any team as they provide the vital link between good (scoring goals) and evil (conceding goals).

Photography: Getty Images

All stats provided by Champion Data
(Official Data Provider to Netball Australia and Suncorp Super Netball)

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