The Melbourne Vixens have retained six of their talented young stars from this year heading into the new netball league in 2017. Liz Watson, Kate Moloney, Jo Weston, Chloe Watson, Emma Ryde and Emily Mannix are all returning the Vixens for 2017 despite the team losing many of their experienced players.
The Vixens have lost their captain Madison Robinson and young up-and-coming shooter Alice Teague-Neeld to new cross-town rivals the Collingwood Magpies, Karyn Bailey to the Adelaide Thunderbirds and Geva Mentor, who is rumoured to be heading to the Sunshine Coast Lightning.
Along with the six-member core group the Vixens today announced three new additions to their team, with the 10th member to be announced next week. Tegan Philip will be returning to the team after missing all of the 2016 season with a serious knee injury, teaming up with new recruit Mwai Kumwenda in the shooting circle. Kumwenda, a player from Malawi, has played the last three years in the ANZ Championship with the Mainland Tactix and now returns to Melbourne where she played in the ANL with the Victorian Fury.
The third new player to join the team is mid-courter Khao Watts, who has played with a number of ANZ Championship teams, including the winning Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic in 2012, the West Coast Fever and the Adelaide thunderbirds.
Vixens’ coach Simone McKinnis said she extremely proud of the team the Vixens have put together. “We’ve been building as a group for a number of years now and it’s time for us and these girls, after a couple of years with us, to really step out there and make a name for themselves out there on the big stage,” McKinnis said. “I think in managing to keep this core group together, we’ve done exceptionally well…These guys are fearless, they dare and they’re ready to take anything on, and you know what, the stage is set for them now.”
McKinnis is also looking forward to having two Melbourne teams in the same competition, and believes that the Vixens have the ability to challenge the star-studded Magpies and any other team in the competition. “There’s a lot of work for us to do, there’s no doubt about that, but they’re up for it, they’re up for a challenge and they have no fear about anything else that’s out there, they’re willing to take risks, we’ve got exciting additions to the team,” McKinnis said. “It’s going to be a different Melbourne Vixens, but it’s going to be dynamic, fearless and bloody super competitive.”
More team announcements have also been made over the last couple of days, with the Sunshine Coast signing Diamonds’ prolific shooter Caitlin Bassett and Swifts’ shooter Stephanie Wood; whilst the GWS team have signed Susan Pettitt and Kimberlee Green as well as English players Serena Guthrie and Jo Harten.