Giants coach Julie Fitzgerald has denied a personality clash with Caitlin Bassett was behind the national captain’s lack of court time this season after the star shooter finished the Super Netball season in the grandstand.
Bassett, the Diamonds captain, missed the Giants’ final fixture of the season – a thrilling comeback draw in the NSW derby with the Swifts – after suffering a knee injury in training last week.
But rather than sit on the team bench, Bassett spent the game in the grandstand and was reading a book in the lead-up to the game, an act that sent social media into overdrive.
Rumours are rife Bassett, 32, has a deeper issue at the Giants and could leave the club – and Australia – before her contract expires next season and may have played her final Super Netball match.
One of the most experienced holding shooters in world netball, Bassett has had limited time on court this season since the introduction of the league’s two-point super shot.
But where other teams have used the rolling substitution rule to change their line-ups during games, Bassett did not take the court at all in the final three games of the season and has had limited time for much of the season.
Her absences have led to speculation of a deeper issue, given other teams with dominant holding shooters, such as West Coast Fever (Jhaniele Fowler) and Queensland Firebirds (Romelda Aiken) have adapted well to the super shot.
But Fitzgerald dismissed talk of a personality clash in the Giants’ ranks.
“I don’t think it’s a personality clash at all,” Fitzgerald said.
“I have to put out there the team that I think is the best team and the team that I think will grow and improve into the future, and I think we showed today that we’ve definitely got that.”
The Giants overcame a 10-goal deficit inside the final five minutes to clinch a draw, with captain Jo Harten slotting six super shots in a matchwinning patch.
The Giants have been perhaps the best exponents of the new shot, with both goalers in their moving circle – English international Harten and rising star Kiera Austin, who was this week named in the Diamonds squad – outstanding from long range.
The super shot was foisted on coaches and players without consultation just weeks before the start of the season.
“I think Kiera has worked her way into being one of the best goal attacks in the competition, and I think she thoroughly deserves her spot,” Fitzgerald said of Austin.
“And you’ve seen (in the comeback against the Swifts) what Jo is capable of.”
Bassett, who has refused interview requests, was named in coach Stacey Marinkovich’s Diamonds squad last week and will take part in a training camp with the national team following the conclusion of the Super Netball finals.