West Coast captain Courtney Bruce is confident star goal shooter Jhaniele Fowler will be able to handle any physicality that comes her way in Super Netball’s grand final against the Melbourne Vixens.
Fowler was restricted to 48 goals in each of the Fever’s two losses to the Vixens during the regular season.
But the Jamaican star exploded in the major semi-final against Melbourne two weeks ago, draining a finals record 67 goals to lead Fever to the 71-62 win.
More than 13,000 fans will cheer them on at RAC Arena on Sunday, and Fowler looms as the key to victory.
Bruce is predicting a physical contest, and she knows Fowler will be able to handle the heat.
“Jhaniele takes a lot in the games. She’s a really strong body out there,” Bruce said.
“The beauty of our game is if Jhaniele is getting double teamed, we’ve got Sasha (Glasgow) who can run into that circle and shoot from anywhere.
“And (Fowler) actually mixes up her game a lot more now, so she can get on the move and get that physicality off her.
“I know from training today that she’s absolutely raring to go. I don’t think she’ll mind the 60 minutes tomorrow if she gets pushed around a bit.”
Vixens co-captain Kate Moloney said it would take an entire team effort to limit the influence of Fowler.
“She’s a world-class player,” Moloney said.
“We need to stop their mid courters, we have to stop the supply to her, and that starts from goal shooter all the way down to our defence.”
The Fever, formerly known as the Perth Orioles, have never won a major domestic title in the 25-year history of the WA netball franchise.
West Coast entered the 2018 decider in Perth as warm favourites against the Sunshine Coast Lightning, before suffering a heartbreaking 62-59 defeat.
Then in the 2020 Queensland hub grand final, Fever lost to the Vixens 66-64.
“It doesn’t’ cross my mind. I’m personally good at leaving every year at what it is,” Bruce, insisting revenge isn’t on her mind, said.
The Vixens were the dominant team during the regular season, tallying a 12-2 record to claim the minor premiership.
But after losing the major semi-final and being on enemy territory for the grand final, they are happy to claim the underdog tag.
“Credit to Fever in that major semi-final, they played incredible netball,” Moloney said.
“They deserve the title of favourites going into this.
“But we believe in our game plan, and we think if we bring that type of netball, we can take it up to anyone.”