Opinion

Wellman chances emerge

by
June 15, 2017

Shepparton's Laura Ryan should poll a steady stream of votes at this year's Wellman Medal having been a strong performer in the past.

As the Goulburn Valley League enters the midway point of the season, some serious contenders have already staked their claim for the Wellman Family Medal.

While some who have previously received the accolade are back in contention, other experienced players are putting their name up, as are breakthrough talents sure to continue racking up votes in the second half of the season.

The question remains if the leaders at the halfway point of the year have the durability to remain at the top of the leaderboard after 18 rounds.

Below are my leading contenders halfway through the season.

Ash Mangan: Winning a fourth league best-and-fairest is not beyond the Kyabram veteran whose form is as good as any other year.

Mangan was named the GVL’s best on court during the interleague contest against Ovens and Murray this year as she lined up alongside partner-in-crime Lauren Pryde.

She was also the most dominant player at Deakin Reserve during last year’s grand final, with any signs of knee trouble behind her after she missed a year following a awful knee injury during VNL action in 2014.

Having won the Wellman in 2008, 2010 and 2012, there is no reason she can not head on to a record a remarkable fourth.

Mangan’s reading of the play can only come with experience as her touch and pace still remains and she will help lead the Bombers’ charge to back-to-back premierships.

Monique Lenehan-Moustafa: There always has to be one outsider that storms into the league and makes the whole competition aware of their presence.

This Mooroopna ace has the X-factor in goal attack with her movement in the circle earning the high regard of coach Jenni McCluskey.

Brought to the club via Victorian Netball League connections to Mia Fallon, only hampering her chances will be games missed due to commitments in Melbourne.

But Elle McDonald secured the Wellman and a premiership in a blaze of glory in her first year in the GVL, while also combining her commitments to North East Blaze.

With defenders and midcourters dominating the best-and-fairest in recent years, not since Seymour’s Kath Hard in 2011 has a shooter received the award in grand final week.

Lenehan-Moustafa could buck the trend.

Laura Ryan: The Shepparton midcourter is a bit of a roughie in the mix, but should definitely rack up a few votes with her consistent efforts even when things are not going the Bears’ way.

She might not have the flashy style of Lenehan-Moustafa to gain notice, but is a crucial member of the Bears’ line-up.

Switching into circle defence at times as well as being a pacey charger through centre and the wings, her versatility makes her a solid team player.

That might just be the downfall of the young talent, who was most valuable player when the Bears won the under-17 premiership in 2014.

But combining with Morgan Gibson and Ash Bradley, her run and leap will put her back into the thoughts of the umpires when they delegate votes.

Last year Ryan came equal eighth in the medal count with 15 votes, as Kyabram’s Steph Vick was a runaway victor polling 39 votes.

That’s just one key defender, attacker and midcourter that are in the mix for the Wellman Family Medal.

Honourable mentions go to Shepparton Swans veteran Nat Simpson, who often pops up as a player opposition coaches have their eyes on.

Shepparton United’s Jessie Barnes-Hill should be in the top 10 after returning to the GVL, with Vick one that can never be discounted as the reigning winner.

Euroa coach Laura Emanuelli should fly the flag for her club as Swans youngster Kate Jeffery and Benalla captain Tylah Marchbank look to build on solid seasons.

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