Netball Commentator Bios
All you need to know about the faces behind the voices! Get acquainted with your SKY Commentators!
Former Australian netballer Natalie Avellino’s excited to once again be part of Sky’s ANZ Championship team.
Avellino’s been part of the team since year one and, being based in Invercargill, brings real Southern flavour to the Sky mix.
Avellino has netball in her bloodstream. She started playing as a youngster, worked her way up through the ranks before being picked to represent Australia in 1994. She was part of the winning team at the 1995 World Championships in Birmingham and played in the Australian national league from 1997 – 2003 and 2005.
Following a season playing for the Southern Sting in 2004 and strong performance at the Australian National Championships, Natalie was recalled into the Australian squad. She was selected for the Australian team in 2004 and 2005 and represented Australia at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.
After the Games she retired from international netball, moved back to Invercargill to play for the Southern Sting in 2006 & 2007.
More recently Avellino’s been a star in Southland colours as both a player and coach – leading Southland to the NPC title in 2008 and to the final in 2009.
She was a netball commentator for the ABC in Australia commentating on the now-defunct Commonwealth Bank Trophy and recent test matches between Australia and New Zealand.
“I’m really excited about the opportunity to commentate, she says. “Having played netball for so long in various teams and playing in both the Australian and New Zealand Leagues with a number of the players still playing, I have a great understanding of the players and their style of game,” she says.
Natalie currently works as the sports co-ordinator at Southland Girls’ High School.
Hailing from North Harbour, Tania climbed through the representative age groups before leaving the province to further her career. She was selected to play for the Silver Ferns in 1996 and her National Bank Cup stints have included a season for the Magic and five years at the Southern Sting side in Invercargill. She was a member of the Silver Ferns squad when they won the world championship in 2003 in Jamaica.
Dalton announced her retirement from all netball in 2006 but did have
a stint on an ANZ bench for the Southern Steel in 2008 when Coach Robyn Broughton made the emergency call!
Dalton believes this ANZ Championship competition is a huge treat for netball fans as it continues to evolve netball.
“It’s New Zealand against Australia every weekend. It’s a completely different style and it just keeps getting better.
“Australians are pretty slick and very fit and I believe our girls are getting much fitter and really making the most of our Kiwi flair,” Dalton says.
Dalton’s also delighted with how much New Zealand and Australian fans have embraced the ANZ Championship.
“Saturday, Sunday and now with the Monday night games, I think it is great that the sport has a weeknight slot. And it’s so good that there are so many people keen to watch it.”
Tania has three children – Tayla, Charlie and Matt - and lives on Auckland’s North Shore with her husband former New Zealand surf lifesaver Duane Dalton.
Considered the best goal defence in the world, Harby-Williams represented Australia in netball for 12 years. She captained the team from 2000 through until 2003, with career highlights being double World Championship success in 1995 and 1999, and winning Commonwealth Games gold in 1998 and 2002.
Throughout her international career, Harby-Williams was renowned for her endurance, tenacity and grit. Her speed and stamina were legendary and she was known to do 100 sprints up a 30-metre hill.
She captained her home side, the Adelaide Thunderbirds, until 2003 in the Commonwealth Bank Trophy, before moving to New Zealand in early 2004 to play for the Auckland Diamonds. She made a brief comeback in New Zealand, playing two seasons with the Auckland Diamonds in New Zealand's national league, the National Bank Cup.
Harby-Williams was a member of the SKY commentary team for 2007 New World Netball World Championships and has been in the team through every season of the ANZ Championship. She thinks this tournament has definitely succeeded in re-igniting the traditional netball fervour both here and across the Tasman.
“The old Australia versus New Zealand rivalry is fascinating,“ says Harby Williams. “I am also working with a really good commentary team; people who have played the game and have great experience in broadcasting. We are all passionate about the game and we have a lot of fun along the way.”
Since retiring from professional netball, Kathryn has moved into broadcasting. But after her stint as breakfast radio host on Radio Sport, Auckland-based Harby-Williams has been pretty busy on the home front with two children with husband Cory Williams – Coco and Jasper.
SKY Sport commentator Andrea McVeigh is no stranger to netball.
While she’s worked as a journalist and broadcaster since she was fresh out of high school, and journalism school, she’s also played netball all her life, representing North Harbour from age-group level, right through to captaining the province for several years.
McVeigh also played 15 seasons of national league netball, for various franchises in every national league competition from the Swiss Maid league, as a teenager, through to the National Bank Cup.
Her role as a commentator combines her two passions, netball and broadcasting. And the introduction of the ANZ Championship, she believes, has been the making of the game she’s so passionate about.
“It’s a truly global tournament,” says McVeigh. “With the introduction of imported players, who take what they learn back to their home nations, this championship’s beyond our expectations.”
McVeigh is also looking forward to working further with SKY’s commentary team.
“We’re a group of women who’ve known each other as friends, colleagues and netballers over the years and we feel that really helps our relationship on air. We’re also deeply passionate about netball – and, to be honest, commentating is even better than playing, because you don’t have to train or do beep tests!”
McVeigh has worked in the sports production team at at Sky since 1999 and on netball since Sky won the rights to broadcast the sport in 2007. She lives in Auckland city with her partner and TV producer Darryl McEwen.
Bernice Mene is a national sporting hero having represented New Zealand at netball for 10 years, playing 78 tests for the Silver Ferns.
Auckland-based Mene is a qualified teacher and language specialist and is considered one of Kiwi sport’s positive role models for young people.
As a netballer she was regarded as one of New Zealand’s finest-ever not only as a Silver Ferns captain, but also domestically.
Mene captained the Southern Sting from the late 1990s to 2002, with the team winning the National Bank Cup each year she led it, except for 1998. In 2002 Mene was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
Mene comes from impeccable sporting pedigree. Her father, Mene Mene, was a decathlete and her mother was a javelin thrower – both New Zealand title and record holders for many years. Not only that, her two brothers represented New Zealand in discus and basketball.
Mene has been with the Sky commentary team since the 2007 World Championships, although she took a season off to have her second child. She believes the ANZ Championship is doing wonders for netball, pushing it to a whole new level.
Mene lives in Auckland city and is married to former New Zealand cricketer Dion Nash. They have two young children, their son, Solomon and daughter India.
Lesley is one of the country’s most experienced sports commentators and broadcasters. She is also a top sportswoman who represented New Zealand in hockey and cricket. She was a member of the New Zealand hockey team which competed at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. In cricket she played in six women’s Test matches and 25 women’s One Day Internationals as a batsman. Lesley skippered New Zealand in three Tests against Australia.
Lesley believes the ANZ Championship has been life changing for many players.
“The week-in week-out, home and away trans-Tasman matches has really sparked interest in the game for not only the players but also coaches and viewers alike. It’s elevated netball's profile into so many homes across the two countries,” Lesley says.
“I love the international players pitting themselves against each other. Within teams you’ve got Australians, New Zealanders, English and Jamaican. So it’s like the big four in a state versus state, province versus province scenario.
“This tournament’s taken netball up to international level plus it gives young players the opportunity to play alongside some of the big names. I find it fascinating to see the young players coming through.”
Lesley’s a working mum, currently on air at Newstalk ZB in Christchurch, and married to New Zealand Cricket Operations Manager Tim Murdoch.
Since her international debut for the Silver Ferns in 1994 against Jamaica, Anna Stanley has achieved some amazing career highlights. She captained the Silver Ferns to win the 2003 Netball World Championships in Jamaica.
She then led the Ferns to a drought-breaking series win over Australia (the first since 1989) in the winter of 2004, and played for the Auckland Diamonds in the National Bank Cup national league in 2004 and 2005. The top mid-courter was also a member of the Commonwealth Games gold-winning team in 2006. The Melbourne victory was New Zealand's first Commonwealth Games gold medal for netball.
Stanley is renowned in netball circles to be an outstanding athlete, known for her speed and bullet pass.
Now, she is happy to be courtside sharing her inside knowledge of the game.
“It’s a completely different ball game being on the other side of the camera. There is a lot to learn and it is a real challenge but it’s a way to stay in the game at the top level. I feel really happy I’ve done my dash playing and training and committing at international level. I’m ready to sit back and do something different now,” Stanely says.
Stanley describes the ANZ Championship as a “step up” for international netball, as Super 14 has been for rugby.
“It’s been so exciting for international netball to have the two top countries in the world playing a domestic competition. It’s really increased the skill level of the two countries. I am just loving it.”
Anna lives in Auckland with her husband, former All Black Jeremy Stanley, who she married in 2006. They have a daughter, Jaya and a son, Nico.
Jenny’s passion for netball goes back a long way. While rounding up cows on the family farm as a youngster, Jenny would often call imaginary netball games.
Jenny never made the Silver Fern squad but did represent Taranaki at senior provincial level. She was also a provincial basketball rep and still plays basketball and netball socially.
After having her first shot at netball commentary at the 2007 Netball World Championships, Jenny is a core member of Sky’s ANZ Championship team – and she loves the championship’s format.
“This is a whole different dimension. At last netball fans are getting what they have deserved for a long time. I think momentum for a tournament like this has been building on both sides of the Tasman.”
Jenny’s another working Mum with three children with husband Tony, and is a senior journalist for Newstalk ZB in Auckland.