• Susan Pettitt of the NSW Swifts (Twitter)Source: Twitter
After the pain of the 2015 ANZ Championship grand final, NSW Swifts superstar Susan Pettitt is ready to put the past behind her and create new memories in 2016.
By
Megan Maurice

6 Jul 2016 - 11:59 AM  UPDATED 8 Jul 2016 - 12:10 PM

Fresh in Susan Pettitt’s memory is the pain of the 2015 ANZ Championship grand final. So much so, that she still hasn’t been able to watch a replay of the game.

“Even when I see the ads come on TV, I say “Oh, go away!” and I switch it off,” she says. “I can see it clearly in my head, I don’t need to see it on TV! So for me, yes it is a motivation and it is something where you just go ‘I don’t want that feeling again.’”

Pettitt has come a long way from the country girl who decided to give netball a go once upon a time in Bega. After her three-year stint at the Australian Institute of Sport she joined the tenacious NSW Swifts team in the now defunct Commonwealth Bank Trophy. Looking back, Pettitt still ranks the 2006 premiership with that team as one of the highlights of her career.

“It was my first year with the Swifts and we went through undefeated,” Pettit told Zela. “It was one of those things I’ll always remember – it was a bit of a fairytale. I didn’t realise how hard it was to do because it was my first year. It was really special.”

The team has changed a lot since that first year, but Pettitt believes a strong winning culture has been firmly established at the club.

“It’s something that you want to keep going through each year to try to get the new girls to understand what the Swifts are about,” she said. “It is difficult – you have different teammates and different combinations and line ups.”

They haven’t always been successful, but Pettitt believes the last few years have been instrumental in building their culture and striving for success in every aspect of their game.

“You can have a superstar line up, but if it doesn’t gel out on court, it doesn’t work. That’s something that’s been drummed into us over the last couple of years and we’ve really worked hard on it.”

“I think there’s been times when we’ve had really good teams and we’ve underperformed,” she said. “And that was a real wake up call that said, ‘Okay, we really need to work hard here, it’s not something that comes easy.’

“You can have a superstar line up, but if it doesn’t gel out on court, it doesn’t work. That’s something that’s been drummed into us over the last couple of years and we’ve really worked hard on it.”

Pettitt is the key to a dominant Swifts’ goal circle that will make things hard for the Melbourne Vixens defenders in this Sunday’s Australian Elimination Final in Sydney. What is not yet known is which role she will fill in that circle and who will partner her.

Coach Rob Wright has chosen to mix up his circle throughout the season, often pairing Pettitt with the strong and steady Caitlin Thwaites at Goal Shooter, but sometimes opting to move Pettitt back to Shooter and bring in young gun Stephanie Wood at Goal Attack. Pettitt can see the merit of both styles.

“It’s been three years now with Caity (Thwaites), and it’s got better and better,” she says. “In the first year, we did click quite quickly, which was good, but there were obviously things we needed to work out between ourselves.

“Having that connection at training and working hard for each other, that’s the key to it. It’s knowing that we’re stronger together than we are separate."

“Having that connection at training and working hard for each other, that’s the key to it. It’s knowing that we’re stronger together than we are separate. With Steph it does change up the timing and the structure of our set ups. But I’ve been fortunate that I’ve had that situation before – I played with Cath Cox and Sharelle McMahon many times – I was lucky at a young age to be exposed to that. And I really love playing with a short shooting circle. It’s very fast – it’s often too fast for us even!”

Away from the court, Pettitt runs her own business, SP Netball Clinics, where she travels around to different clubs throughout New South Wales, sharing her knowledge with the kids who flock to meet her.

Away from the court, Pettitt runs her own business, SP Netball Clinics, where she travels around to different clubs throughout New South Wales, sharing her knowledge with the kids who flock to meet her.

“I find it really rewarding to get out to the grass roots and see the kids having fun,” she said. “That actually has translated into my game, because I see how much enjoyment they get out of the simple things, playing around with their friends, playing netball. Sometimes I’m exhausted and busy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Running the clinics has led to the discovery of another passion – coaching. Though she can’t see herself at the helm of a national league franchise any time soon, she is interested in the specialist coaching side.

“I mean never say never, but the head coach role – I think that’s just crazy and I don’t think I’d ever be able to handle that pressure and that full time commitment,” she said. “But I do really enjoy the specialist side of it and that would be the kind of role I’d love to do in the future when I do hang up the boots.

“I mean never say never, but the head coach role – I think that’s just crazy and I don’t think I’d ever be able to handle that pressure and that full time commitment.”

“I like the attacking and the shooting and the thinking side. I love working with players to think a bit more about what they’re doing out there on court and help them think one, two and three moves ahead, instead of just ‘see ball, get ball’.”

But hanging up the boots is not on the agenda any time soon, with Pettitt keen to finish this year on a high and push on into the new national league in 2017 – though she hasn’t yet made up her mind about the speculations on some possible new rules, particularly the much discussed two point shot.

“It would be interesting,” she said. “It would change the whole dynamic of the game and maybe the fans would really enjoy that. I don’t know, I’m sitting on the fence a little bit! Because I do like the traditional netball game and I don’t think there’s much need to change. But I do get that maybe there’s a bit of excitement there in terms of the chance to reward us shorter shooters who shoot a bit further out! There’s pros and cons for both ways and I think it’s a very tough decision for them to make.”

NSW Swifts vs. Melbourne Vixens will be held at Sydney Olympic Park Sports Centre, Sydney at 12.18pm.


 

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