Vixens on ‘redemption arc’ as GF pain fuels 2023 campaign

The Vixens were crushed by the Fever in last season’s decider, despite easily winning the minor premiership. Now Jo Weston and co are hungry for revenge in the rematch to kickstart their year.

Melbourne defender Jo Weston says the Vixens have used the pain of last year’s Super Netball grand final loss to fuel their 2023 campaign in a season shaping as the closest on record.

Weston, who missed both the Diamonds’ Quad Series tour and last weekend’s Team Girls Cup with a calf injury, hopes to be ready for round one – a grand final rematch between the Vixens and premiers West Coast Fever in Perth on March 18.

The Fever won a maiden title with a 70-59 drubbing of the Vixens in front of almost 14,000 fans at a packed RAC Arena in Perth, dominating the minor premiers from the opening centre pass.

“It’s probably hard to articulate how difficult that was for us as a team,” Weston said.

“But like with any experience, you can’t get hung up on it, you have to move on.

“And for us, we have used it as fuel for this year and all the work we’ve put in over the pre-season, so hopefully that’s really showing out on court.”

The Fever won the pre-season Team Girls Cup on the Gold Coast last weekend, while the Vixens finished third overall, with both teams showcasing their depth to perform despite some injury issues.

Weston, whose calf problems were spurred by a “significant” ankle injury suffered last year, was initially unaware of the extent of the problem.

“I went to the (Diamonds’ pre-Quad Series) camp in Canberra (in January) and I was probably a question mark then,” she said.

“We’ve got such a depth of talent in the Diamonds squad that it was a really good opportunity for other players to go.

“I got back into training and things didn’t go exactly to plan but it was just a little bit of a side step rather than a back step.

“But long-term, I think it’s going to be right as rain.”

While the calf problem is a latent effect from a previous ankle injury, rather than a tear, Weston and the Vixens are taking the cautious route getting the champion goal defence back on court in a huge year of netball.

As well as her Vixens campaign, Weston will be a key figure for the Diamonds in their mission to regain the World Cup – now the only piece of silverware missing from their trophy cabinet.

Before then though, Weston’s focus is solely on the Vixens and Super Netball.

“For now, Vixens are definitely my focus. We do have the World Cup at the end of the season but that is still quite a long way away,” she said.

“And we really want to have a bit of a redemption arc from our grand final loss last year.

“I’ve been really disappointed not to be able to actually have that time out on court.

“I have been in training and out of training, in training and out of training. So I definitely have been trying to make the most of the moments I’ve been out on court.”

As president of the Australian Netball Players Association, Weston also faces a big season off the court helping act as the voice of the athletes who will negotiate a new Collective Players Agreement (CPA) with Netball Australia before every Super Netball player comes off contract at the end of the season.

Originally published as Super Netball 2023: The grand final despair driving Melbourne Vixens’ season

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