The Australian captain is being forced off the court by Super Netball’s two-point shot

Australia’s tallest player, Caitlin Bassett, was the hero when she landed the winning goal of the 2011 World Cup from right under the post.

But now the Diamonds captain is spending plenty of time on the bench because of Super Netball’s new two-point shot.

Yep, this is another column about the super shot. And to be honest, you’ll probably read plenty more about it this year.

Last week we predicted the debate around the new rule was likely to continue all season, with a huge focus on how it changes the game.

And there was so much conversation after the opening round that the queen of netball herself weighed in, writing an article for the Sydney Morning Herald.

It was there Liz Ellis urged netball fans to move with the times.

A netballer grimaces as she tries a two-point shot, while a defender stretches her arm out to block.

A netballer grimaces as she tries a two-point shot, while a defender stretches her arm out to block.

The long-distance super shot has completely changed the game.(AAP: Dan Peled)

She agreed the game probably shouldn’t be scored with two-point goals, but said it was the price we had to pay in order to get Australian netball back to using a moving goal circle.

“The long-bomb specialist … was always here, trapped in a game plan that demanded the ball end up under the post. With the super shot, she now has a chance to shine,” she wrote.

And shine they have.

Names like Steph Wood and Samantha Gooden have been lauded for their fabulous execution of the super shot so far, adding a bit of fun and a little pizazz to spruce up the television product.

But what does all of this mean for the tall timbers? The Caitlin Bassetts of the netball world?

A netball player takes a shot at goal from under the ring.

A netball player takes a shot at goal from under the ring.

Caitlin Bassett played just half a game on Saturday.(Supplied: GIANTS Netball)

In Saturday’s match between the Giants and Thunderbirds, the Australian captain sat out a large chunk of the game.

In the opening round they ran with a clear tactic to use Bassett in regular play before taking her off for the five-minute super-shot period at the end of the first, third and fourth quarters.

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She attempted no two-point shots in that game and instead focused on what she is famous for: accuracy right under the post.

But the Giants went away from that in round two and Bassett only spent about 32 of a possible 60 minutes on court.

This is fantastic news for Keira Austin and young Sophie Dwyer, who are getting some extra time in the goal circle and deserve to be there with their long-bomb capabilities.

The only worry for Diamonds fans is just how much time Bassett will actually get on court over the course of the season. And are the Giants getting what they paid for her?

The two other tallest shooters in the league who play a similar holding game are Jamaicans Romelda Aiken and Jhaniele Fowler.

Romelda Aiken leaps for the ball near the hoop.

Romelda Aiken leaps for the ball near the hoop.

Standing at almost two metres, Romelda Aiken has always been a prolific scorer from close for the Firebirds.(AAP: Glenn Hunt)

Aiken, like Bassett, hasn’t sunk a super shot yet and has been substituted on and off in similar fashion.

Fowler, on the other hand, has had more success adapting. She made two out of three two-pointers in the first game and four out of seven in the second, and remained on court for the entirety of both games.

The West Coast Fever only really have Fowler as their true option at goal-shooter, so it’s not clear whether the choice to keep her on is based on roster restraints or has more to do with her newfound ability to sink long bombs.

But as the 2018 and 2019 Super Netball MVP, with the most goals in both those seasons (783 and 709 respectively), it is hard to comprehend that a shooter that’s been celebrated for such extreme dominance could be pushed out of the game.

Jhaniele Fowler and Ingrid Colyer of the Fever celebrate after a win agianst the Giants in August.

Jhaniele Fowler and Ingrid Colyer of the Fever celebrate after a win agianst the Giants in August.

It is safe to say Jhaniele Fowler (left) is a target for passes over the top.(AAP: Brendon Thorne)

And before Fowler graced our shores and Super Netball began, it was Aiken winning MVPs left, right and centre in the Trans-Tasman Championship.

Winning three of these awards in total, Aiken became the first player in the former league to reach a milestone of 400 goals.

So is the game done with these players now their main skillset has been deemed irrelevant for a third of the game? Will they be forced to the bench or even abroad seeking court time if the super shot remains next year? Or will they simply have to up their long game to stay relevant?

Right now, it seems the super shot brings with it a lot more questions than answers, casting an uncertain future over the tall holding shooters in the game.

How will the super shot affect the international game?

This leads us to the next question: What happens to our Australian captain if she continues to miss court time?

Our national side — ranked number one in the world — actually has a shortage of goal shooters to pick from right now.

A netball player stretches for the ball while a defender runs up behind her.

A netball player stretches for the ball while a defender runs up behind her.

Bassett rarely strays far from the hoop.(Supplied: GIANTS Netball)

Australia’s two strongest players that specialise in that GS bib are currently Bassett and Caitlin Thwaites.

Thwaites has not long retired from international commitments and the rest of the starting goal shooters in Super Netball (with their level of experience) are all internationals.

There are some young guns coming up the ranks that play that role, like Cara Koenen from the Sunshine Coast Lightning and Sophie Garbin from the NSW Swifts, but they’re still finding their feet.

And there are plenty of goal attacks that can shift into that role but are not quite GS specialists, with far less height.

So when it comes time for Constellation Cup selection, what will the new Aussie Diamonds coach do?

Surely the national side will stick with C-Bass as captain for ongoing stability and experience. But will the court time she has missed in Super Netball affect her work in a green and gold dress?

A group of netball teammates grimace as they watch time run out in a loss.

A group of netball teammates grimace as they watch time run out in a loss.

After so many years of dominance, the Diamonds have high standards for success.(AAP: Dean Lewins)

And if Lisa Alexander’s departure as Diamonds head coach after the team were runners up in the 2018 Commonwealth Games and 2019 World Cup by a single goal is anything to go by, it is clear Netball Australia expects success measured purely in the form of gold medals.

This creates a conflict between trying to create the best league in the world and the effect it has on the national team.

After the Commonwealth Games loss to England, Alexander made this fair assessment: “I can’t say it any other way. I’m the national coach and [having English players in Super Netball] has clearly assisted them to win this gold medal.”

“That’s our high-performance system working for another country.”

Will Super Netball’s quest to be the very best league in the world hurt its national team again?

Jhaniele Fowler stretches her arm high to catch a pass during a match against the Giants.

Jhaniele Fowler stretches her arm high to catch a pass during a match against the Giants.

Jhaniele Fowler’s strength and size can be hard to compete with in close.(AAP: Brendon Thorne)

There is of course another option, one that Super Netball organisers might even be hoping for.

As the world’s best league, the competition sets a precedent for the standard of play required to challenge the top dogs and an example of how you build strong pathways to feed into your national side.

And there are at least 23 internationals benefiting from that by participating in Super Netball this season. Each of those players will take the skills and tactics they learn here back to their national teams when the league wraps up.

Other teams around the world have sought out Australian coaches in recent times in an effort to gain an insight into the way we play and to try to take out the longstanding number one team (Norma Plummer in South Africa, Jane Woodlands-Thompson for New Zealand and Tania Obst coaching England).

So now that the Australian style of play is being forced to change, adopting a moving circle with long-bomb, turn and shoot tactics, will the international game follow suit?