Published in The Sydney Morning Herald Weekend on July 16, 2016
Caitlin Thwaites may have one of the most vital roles in the Swifts leading up to Monday’s Conference finals, but she’s too humble to admit it.
The 188cm Bendigo-born goal shooter has one of the highest shooting averages in the game, 89.3 per cent and was the Swifts’ MVP of last year’s ANZ season.
“It was a bit of a shock to be honest,” said Thwaites.
“The year that we had and the calibre of players that we had in the team – to be considered amongst the people who would have that and who have won that in the past, I think it’s pretty special.”
Thwaites is going into Monday’s final against the Firebirds on the back of another MVP performance against the Vixens in May, where the shooter scored 35 goals from 39 attempts.
“I think the beauty of this team is that we actually share the shooting load more than any team between the goal shooter and goal attack,” she said.
“It’s always an entire team effort to be able to win these games, not only at the ANZ Champs level, but at the finals level it’s even more so that every person has to perform their role.”
Thwaites is coming up against Firebird’s Jamaican superstar Romelda Aiken, who at 196cm, has taken the role of goal shooter to a new level.
“I’ve had to adapt my game a little bit because I’m no longer one of the talls,” said Thwaites.
“Because I can’t physically be that, I’ve had to add a few more tools to my kit. To find that balance between having the versatility to move around as well as being that strong target and holding the circle is something I’m still working out.”
Thwaites said that even though she’s one of the best shooters in Australia, she still thinks there’s room for improvement.
“I don’t think that anybody ever has a perfect game, there’s always things that you can learn from and improve, and that’s what we do with our video analysis,” she said.
“Even in games that you win by a blow out, there’s always things that you can fix up.”
If the Swifts take home the Australian Conference title next Monday at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre, they’ll be able to host their semi-final against a New Zealand team on home turf at Sydney Olympic Park where they’re yet to have a loss in the 2016 season.
Thwaites said that going into next Monday’s match, she’ll be thinking of the team rather than herself.
“Yes, we go out there to do our job for the team, but it’s not for the individual accolades,” she said.
“The supporters that we have here in Sydney, our members and everybody, are so amazing. That’s a huge advantage for us, so it’s not a knockout final, but we’ll try to win so that we can have a home semi.”
Australian Conference finals: NSW Swifts v QLD Firebirds at Brisbane Entertainment Centre, 7:18pm.