Vixens search for answers as contract talks loom

The Vixens watch their season coming to an end. Photo: Angela WylieEight Melbourne Vixens players are coming out of contract after what captain Bianca Chatfield has described as another wasted year, leaving only midcourt star Madison Browne, shooter Karyn Howarth and recruits Elissa Macleod and Amy Steel with deals that spill over into 2014.

The Vixens’ season ended with consecutive play-off losses to the Adelaide Thunderbirds and Queensland Firebirds, who will meet in Sunday’s grand final at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre.

But having turned over half their list after losing the 2012 decider to the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic, Chatfield said she did not believe another raft of personnel changes was necessarily the answer to the vulnerabilities she maintains are more mental than physical.

”I feel like we’ve wasted another year, and I don’t know whether that’s because I’m getting older that I feel that more and more, but to come second last year and to come third this year when we had the team to do it … that’s probably the most frustrating thing,” she said.

”We can’t just keep doing the same thing and expect to get a better result next year; we have to change something. So I’m sure the coaching staff and Netball Victoria will review the team, they’ll review how training’s done, everything, until they can get an answer, but I’m not really sure what that is at the moment.

”I don’t think it’s a physical thing, I think it is a mental thing. Last year I definitely thought it was a mental thing towards the end, and I feel like we’ve just been stung by the same thing this year too. I can’t really articulate what it is, but it’s something that’s mind over matter.”

Having dropped four of their last five games, the Vixens’ offensive end remains their most obvious frailty, with Chatfield lamenting the general failure to capitalise on the turnovers that were, admittedly, less abundant than usual against the Romelda Aiken-dominated Queensland attack.

Uncertainty still clouds the future of her close friend and business partner, champion shooter Sharelle McMahon, whom Chatfield estimates is a 50-50 chance of continuing into 2014. McMahon has not discussed the future with her teammates, but Chatfield believes McMahon displayed enough of her former brilliance in the preliminary final to warrant extending her comeback.

”I think it would be great if she goes around again because … the old Sharelle is back. She’s finally got herself into that match fitness again, and you could see that she could build on that into next year,” Chatfield said, adding that she expected minimal departures from the club.

The Vixens will gather to watch Sunday’s grand final, the Firebirds needing to win a third consecutive away final to pinch a second ANZ Championship from the favoured Thunderbirds, whose only loss for the year came against the Vixens in week two.

Adelaide has won narrowly both preliminary bouts: 54-53 in round six, and 54-52 in round 14.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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