The 2011 ANZ Championship MVP Award has been jointly won by Leana de Bruin (Southern Steel) and Natalie Medhurst (Queensland Firebirds).
In the closest MVP count in the competition’s history, de Bruin and Medhurst each scored 18 votes, with three athletes – Romelda Aiken, Caitlin Bassett and Natalie von Bertouch – all tied at 16 points.
The ANZ Championship MVP is designed to recognise the most outstanding player in the world’s best netball league. Votes are submitted by the national selector on duty (from Australia and New Zealand) at each ANZ Championship regular season match, who nominates the three most outstanding players on court on a 3-2-1 basis.
This is the second consecutive year in which a New Zealand athlete has won the award, with de Bruin’s Steel teammate Liana Leota (née Barrett-Chase) winning outright in 2010.
Medhurst is the first ever Australian MVP winner; her shooting partner, Romelda Aiken (Jamaica) won outright in 2009, and shared the honours in 2008 with UK import, Sonia Mkoloma.
De Bruin and Medhurst were informed that they had won the award earlier this week. While the co-winners were both clearly thrilled with the recognition, their current situations couldn’t be more different. With the Steel missing their first Finals Series since 2008, de Bruin has been enjoying some time out, relaxing on her farm in Cambridge.
Meanwhile, Medhurst and her fellow Firebirds have been under the media spotlight in Brisbane while preparing for their first ever ANZ Championship Grand Final this Sunday.
De Bruin described winning the award as “awesome”.
“There’s just so many classy players out there and you just never know. I definitely wasn’t expecting it but it’s an awesome surprise,” she said.
While confessing she’s her “own biggest critic”, de Bruin said on reflection she was satisfied with her form during the ANZ Championship and credited “good life balance” with her success.
The looming World Championships in Singapore in July were undoubtedly a motivating factor for the dynamic Silver Fern.
“I want to be one of those players that makes history in winning the World Championship after Commonwealth Games gold – I’m on a mission to make that happen,” she said.
The award also came as a total surprise to Medhurst.
“I was pretty shocked! It was the last thing I was expecting to hear; I’m very honoured and humbled by the award, it’s a lovely personal accolade to receive”, she said.
However, her mind is clearly on one thing this week. “The things you think of are winning premierships. For us, it’s such an amazing group of girls to be a part of; if you were ask anybody what position they would rather be in, they would prefer to be playing off for a grand final. It’s the pinnacle, it’s the reason we play”.
Playing at opposite ends of the court, Medhurst and de Bruin have both consistently delivered statistically throughout the season. De Bruin finished first overall in the competition for defensive rebounds, and equal second for intercepts, while Medhurst sits top ten for shooting and second for centre pass receives.
2011 ANZ Championship MVP Award – top five
Leana de Bruin Southern Steel 18 points
Natalie Medhurst Queensland Firebirds 18 points
Romelda Aiken Queensland Firebirds 16 points
Caitlin Bassett West Coast Fever 16 points
Natalie von Bertouch Adelaide Thunderbirds 16 points
2010– Liana Barrett-Chase (Southern Steel)
2009– Romelda Aiken (Queensland Firebirds)
2008– Romelda Aiken (Queensland Firebirds) and Sonia Mkoloma (Central Pulse, now NSW Swifts)
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