Round 2: Melbourne Vixens vs Adelaide Thunderbirds

Match Day Guide

🦊 Round 2: Melbourne Vixens vs Adelaide Thunderbirds Match Day Guide

Rudi Ellis is here to stay

Rudi web
2 weeks ago

Written by Amelia Barnes

She has lived everywhere from India to China, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Sydney, but Rudi Ellis calls Melbourne home.

The defender has held the city and Melbourne Vixens in high regard since first moving to Victoria for university and being part of the squad as a training partner in 2018 and 2019.

“I enjoyed the environment, the coaching staff – everyone. It’s just such a positive space to be around,” Ellis said.

Ellis was also part of the Victorian Fury's Australian Netball League side in 2019 where she produced a match-saving intercept to secure the championship in a one-goal win over NSW.

Opportunities at other clubs have seen Ellis living interstate for the past four years. She played two seasons with Queensland Firebirds, followed by another two at the West Coast Fever including a 2022 premiership, and has earned a reputation as one of the best super shot blockers in the game.

With Ellis’ parents now living in country Victoria, and her partner Tim English based in Melbourne playing for the Western Bulldogs in the AFL, it was a no-brainer for the defender to return east.

“Just being around all those people off court makes me a better player on court. And knowing how much of a great experience it was four years ago, I thought it would be an awesome change for my netball,” said Ellis.

“In my initial chat with [coaches] Simone and Di, it just felt like home straight away.”

The Vixens environment remains almost as Ellis left it in 2019, but she is an entirely different player. At Fever, she was fortunate to learn from a suite of internationally experienced players: Courtney Bruce, Sunday Aryang, Kim Jenner, and Stacey Francis-Bayman.

“I've learned so many different things both on and off the court, so I feel like although I have bounced around a lot, I feel like it's made me a better person and netballer today,” Ellis said.

“I feel a lot stronger and just fitter and more physical out there as well.”

Ellis’ growth has already been evident in pre-season matches where she’s proved effective on taller holding shooters such as former teammate Jhaniele Fowler-Nembhard.

“My speed and fitness have definitely become a lot better since four years ago, but I think my ability to move around the shooters and have a crack at the ball and rip things in [has improved]. I just have more awareness.”

A former shooter herself who only switched to defence after making it to national level in the underage pathway, Ellis effectively predicts her opposition’s next move and applies constant pressure.

The ability to change tactics between the standard and super shot period is a skill Ellis has been developing since her first day of SSN. She debuted in Round 2 of the 2020 season, where she was tasked with overcoming the newly introduced rule against the Melbourne Vixens.

“It was a huge challenge, but I think getting thrown in the deep end was probably a good way to start. It was only up from there!”

Now in her fifth season of SSN, Ellis continues to grab new opportunities with two hands and is pushing for a spot in the starting seven. At the Vixens, she’s building connections quickly with club stalwarts Jo Weston, Emily Mannix, and Kate Eddy, and is adding more versatility to her game.

“I feel like I'm finally cracking the goal keeper code and would really love to push myself and work on my goal defence and wing defence game too.”

A Vixens pre-season focused on executing the basic skills of the game has Ellis feeling in her best career form. “Personally, I feel the fittest that I probably have in a long time.”

She’s still only 26, but having already done enough travel to last a lifetime, Ellis is ready to put down roots at the Vixens.

“I'm very happy to be back here and just have hopefully consistency for the rest of my career in Melbourne.”

Another premiership, in her first year as a contracted Vixen, is the goal.

“I’m really looking forward to this season and seeing what highlights we can create,” said Ellis.

“I think we've got such an exciting lineup, and I think we really have put a lot of time and effort into building those connections off court… I think we can go all the way if we put our minds to it.”

The Vixens begin their 2024 campaign against the Melbourne Mavericks at John Cain Arena on Sunday 14 April.

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