Leana de Bruin and Natalie Medhurst share ANZ Championship MVP Award

Staff Writers, Thursday, 19 May 2011.

The 2011 ANZ Championship MVP Award has been jointly won by Leana de Bruin (Ascot Park Hotel 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 (formerly 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 its 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, '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 to 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:

Leana de Bruin

2011 totals

Average Per Game

Notes

Games

13

-

Rebounds

37

2.8

1st for Defensive Rebounds for competition; 2nd in competition in total

Intercepts

30

2.3

Equal 2nd in competition

Deflections

87

6.7

1st in competition

Gains

89

6.8

2nd in competition

Turnovers

15

1.2

-

Penalties

116

8.9

-

Pickups

26

2.0

Equal 8th in competition


Natalie Medhurst

2011 totals

Average Per Game

Notes

Games

14

-

Grand Final not counted

Goals

316

22.6

9th in competition

Misses

64

4.6

-

Attempts

380

34.3

-

Shooting Percentage

83.2%

-

8th in competition (over 150 goals for season)

Goal Assists

133

9.5

1st for Firebirds

Centre Pass Receives

243

17.4

2nd in competition

Rebounds

7

0.5

-

Intercepts

8

0.6

4th for Firebirds

Deflections

21

1.5

4th for Firebirds

Gains

14

1.0

4th for Firebirds

Turnovers

41

2.9

-

Penalties

36

2.6

-

Pickups

26

1.9

1st for Firebirds


2011 ANZ Championship MVP Award top five
Leana de Bruin - Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel - 18 points
Natalie Medhurst - Mission Queensland Firebirds - 18 points
Romelda Aiken - Mission Queensland Firebirds - 16 points
Caitlin Bassett - West Coast Fever - 16 points
Natalie von Bertouch - Adelaide Thunderbirds - 16 points

Previous winners
2010 Liana Barrett-Chase (Southern Steel)
2009 Romelda Aiken (Queensland Firebirds)
2008 Romelda Aiken (Queensland Firebirds) and Sonia Mkoloma (Central Pulse, now NSW Swifts)