Jamaican Ward secures long-term deal in Super Netball League
SYDNEY, Australia (CMC) — Out-of-contract Jamaican defender Jodi-Ann Ward has found a new home in the Super Netball League (SNL) in Australia for the next three seasons.
The versatile 29-year-old defender will trade in the black and white tunic of the decommissioned Collingwood Magpies for orange and charcoal, after the Sydney-based Giants secured her signature in a long-term deal.
Ward enjoyed career-best form for the Magpies last season when she made 40 interceptions, tipped 66 deflections, and grabbed 16 rebounds to solidify her spot in the goal defence spot of the 2023 SNL Team of the Year.
“She is such an exciting player, and I can’t wait to inject her into our line-up,” Giants Head Coach Julie Fitzgerald said on the club’s website.
“After losing April [Brandley] to retirement at the end of the [last] season we knew we needed to bolster our defensive end with experience, and we thought Jodi-Ann would be a perfect fit for many reasons.
“She comes off a fantastic season of netball — both with Collingwood and Jamaica — and we can’t wait to see where she takes her game in the years to come in her new colours.”
Ward was left in the wind when the Magpies decided to pull out of the league at the end of the past season, after a review of the viability of the sport club’s netball programme in the future.
The club cited the challenges Netball Australia had experienced and continues to experience in terms of profitability of the SNL, combined with the recent protracted pay dispute that rocked the sport in the country, as its reasons for pulling out.
“It’s extremely disappointing how things ended with Collingwood, and the timing of it, but change is good sometimes,” Ward said.
“Giants are a very competitive team, and I love a team that fights to the end. They are well-rounded with youth and experience, with a lot of room to grow — and I want to be a part of that growth.
“My goal is to always ensure that whoever I’m on court with at any time feels comfortable and protected knowing that I’ve got their back in any situation, especially as you develop new combinations or introduce younger players.”
Standing five feet, 10 inches tall, Ward came into the league three years ago after 18 matches in the English Super League, and she made 56 appearances in her four seasons with the Magpies.
She has been a member of the Sunshine Girls, as the Jamaica national team are known, for the past six years, and she has been a key contributor to the side’s emergence on the world stage over the past two years, including a silver medal at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Ward is most at home in goal defence but she can play at the goalkeeper and wing defence positions when required.