Women's Sport: Vitality Netball Superleague transfer deadline day: a guide and verdict to all 10 squads

Vitality Netball Superleague - Grand Finals

Wednesday 8 January 2020 marks the closing of the Vitality Netball Superleague signing window, and a busy six month period it has been. 

The 10 Superleague franchises, from Thursday 1 August 2019, were able to sign a maximum of 15 players during the window, with any players out of contract and players from overseas eligible for transfer.  

The below list is comprised of players who have been announced by their respective clubs. It also notes if the player has changed teams and if they have been imported. 

We have also included our verdict on each 2020 squad. 

*denotes club change
**denotes import

Manchester Thunder

  • Joyce Mvula
  • Eleanor Cardwell
  • Kathryn Turner
  • Laura Malcom
  • Ashleigh Neal* (London Pulse)
  • Caroline O'Hanlon
  • Loreen Ngwira* (London Pulse)
  • Rebekah Airey
  • Emma Dovey
  • Amy Carter

Verdict: Last season's Superleague Champions have retained much of their 2019 squad which, given their title win, should put them in a strong position to contend for the 2020 title. However, the Yellow and Black were unable to keep hold of New Zealand star Liana Leota, the anchor to their attacking end.

This has undoubtedly been deemed a great blow. Similarly, Thunder has also had to manage the departure of Kerry Almond who retired after winning her third title with the Manchester outfit. Head coach Karen Greig will hope that her two signings in Ngwira and Neal, from London Pulse, will be strong enough replacements as they begin their hunt for their first-ever back-to-back title win. 

Wasps Netball

  • Rachel Dunn
  • Katie Harris
  • Tamsin Moala
  • Sienna Rushton
  • Alexia Barker** (Australia)
  • Jade Clarke
  • Iona Christian* (Severn Stars)
  • Beth Dix
  • Hannah Leighton
  • Sophia Candappa
  • Hannah Knights
  • Fran Williams
  • Ally Housley
  • Josie Huckle
  • Amy Flanagan

Verdict: Wasps, who were hurting after their second-place finish in last year's final show they still mean business with their 2020 squad. Head coach Mel Mansfield shows that she has one eye on the present and one on the future as she retains senior Roses Dunn and Clarke and signs a much younger England centre-court prospect in Christian (neé Darroch). Barker is one of several Superleague signings from Australia this year and it is not the only manner in which the Black and Yellow have embraced the trans-Tasman way. Wasps became the first Superleague side to enter Netball New Zealand's Super Club tournament as part of their pre-season training with much of the 2020 squad attending. Will it be the innovative edge they need to reclaim the Superleague title? 

2019 Super Club Netball

Team Bath

  • Kim Commane
  • Sophie Drakeford-Lewis
  • Rachel Shaw
  • Laura Rudland
  • Betsy Creak
  • Abi Robson
  • Imogen Allison
  • Mia Ritchie
  • Hannah Passmore
  • Eboni Usoro-Brown
  • Fionnula Toner* (London Pulse)
  • Summer Artman
  • Khanyisa Chawane** (South Africa)
  • Tash Pavelin

Verdict: With Serena Guthrie taking a year-long sabbatical from netball Team Bath's new head coach Jo Vann will be hoping that signings Fionnula Toner and South African international Khanyisa Chawane will be able to fill the Guthrie-shaped void. Already showing great promise in November's test series against the England Roses, Chawane will certainly add a new dimension to Team Bath's already formidable defensive end. Bath retain the shooting partnership of Commane and Drakeford-Lewis for 2020. There were teething problems for the Blue and Gold feeding their shooting circle last season, but now with a year under their belt perhaps Bath's fortunes might change.

Loughborough Lightning

  • Lucy Parize
  • Ella Clark
  • Beth Gabriel
  • Nat Panagarry
  • Hannah Joseph
  • Suzie Liverseidge*
  • Laura Nicholls
  • Jess Shaw
  • Samantha May* (Wasps)
  • Annabel Roddy
  • Jasmine Odeogberin* (London Pulse)
  • Vicki Oyesola 
  • Alice Harvey

Verdict: Loughborough Lightning's 2020 squad features many returning faces and they lose only one player, Amy Clinton, to Celtic Dragons. Similar to London Pulse, Lightning welcome in a host of future England stars in Liverseidge, Odeogberin and Harvey. Undoubtedly head coach Sara Bayman, now into her second year in charge of the Midlands side, will hope senior Rose Nat Panagarry and basketball star Ella Clark will provide much-needed experience to her youthful side. Loughborough will also be hoping that their transfer Sam May will bolster their defensive end, which was arguably their greatest weakness in the 2019 season.   

Saracens Mavericks

  • George Fisher
  • Kadeen Corbin
  • Chloe Essam* (Wasps)
  • Sasha Corbin
  • Gabby Marshall
  • Georgia Lees
  • Beth Ecuyer-Dale
  • Razia Quashie
  • Jo Trip
  • Jodie Gibson* (Severn Stars)

Verdict: Saracens Mavericks is another squad they have managed to retain most of their players even after their disappointing fifth-place finish in 2019. Their stand-out 2020 signing is England Rose Jodie Gibson who comes back into the Superleague after her knee injury. Any keen England fan will recognise that this squad is stacked with talent and so big things will be expected from this squad. They flaunt six senior England Roses and a defensive line-up that looks set to cause real problems for any opponent. Chloe Essam makes the brave move away from two-time, back-to-back Superleague Champions Wasps to join the Hertfordshire side and now seeing this line-up her decision is justifiable. The question on everyone's lips now will be: can they deliver?

Severn Stars

  • Jane Taylor
  • Paige Reed
  • Georgia Rowe (Celtic Dragons)
  • Bethan Dyke* (Celtic Dragons)
  • Liana Leota* (Manchester Thunder)
  • Chloe Carchrie
  • Nia Jones* (Celtic Dragons)
  • Towera Vinkhumbo** (Malawi)
  • Ella Powell-Davies
  • Ama Agbeze* (London Pulse)
  • Hannah Howl
  • Ellie Gibbons

Verdict: It is safe to say that Severn Stars have poached a fair few players in order to complete their 2020 roster and new head coach Melissa Bessell has undoubtedly been a big, drawing factor for those seeking to change their Superleague fortune. This Stars side has, in six-months, become a melting pot of Superleague talent. With the loss of Jodie Gibson in the defensive end, Bessell will be counting on an exciting signing in Towera Vinkhumbo from Malawi to replace the England international. The challenge that now faces this new-look team will be how they mesh together and more importantly, will they be able to do it in time for February 22nd?

Surrey Storm

  • Yasmin Hodge-England
  • Sophie Hankin* (Saracens Mavericks)
  • Nicole Humphrys
  • Karyn Bailey* (Saracens Mavericks)
  • Ellie Kelk
  • Niamh Cooper** (Northern Ireland)
  • Yasmin Parsons
  • Emily Gulvin
  • Mikki Austin
  • Leah Goss
  • Katy Hughes
  • Lorraine Kowalewska
  • Leah Middleton (Australia)
  • Alima Priest
  • Charlotte Curtis* (Team Bath)

Verdict: Surrey Storm certainly has a new look this year as they scoop up two Mavericks players (Bailey and Hankin), Curtis from Team Bath and two international arrivals in Leah Middleton from Australia and Niamh Cooper from Northern Ireland. Of all the signings shooter Bailey will perhaps by the most valuable to Storm. Standing at 1.92m the Australian is renowned for being an excellent target for balls being fed into the shooting circle. The same curiosity that surrounds Stars also circles Storm. Will they too, be able to come together as a team in time for February's start? 

Vitality Netball Superleague

Celtic Dragons

  • Chelsea Lewis
  • Rebekah Robinson** (Jamaica)
  • Shona O'Dwyer* (Severn Stars)
  • Amy Clinton* (Loughborough Lightning)
  • Sophie Morgan
  • Adi Bolokaro
  • Leila Thomas* (Team Bath)
  • Abigail Tyrrell
  • Latanya Wilson** (Jamaica)
  • Paige Kindred* (Manchester Thunder)

Verdict: Celtic Dragons faced a series of big losses in the signing period with Kalifa McCollin (named in the 2019 All-Star VII) heading to New Zealand and three Welsh internationals, including fan favourite Nia Jones, all making the move to Severn Stars. With spaces to fill Dragons have picked up players from Thunder, Lightning and Team Bath to replenish their stock. The Wales-based team have also taken the opportunity to sign two emerging Jamaican talents in Wilson and Robinson. Robinson made her debut for the Sunshine Girls in the 2019 Netball World Cup and displayed her shooting prowess in Celtic Dragon's first-ever Fast5 tournament just a few months ago. 

Strathclyde Sirens

  • Niamh McCall
  • Emma Barrie
  • Lynsey Gallagher
  • Gia Abernathy
  • Taylor Cullen* (London Pulse)
  • Claire Maxwell
  • Kelly Boyle
  • Nicola McCleery
  • Emily Nicholl
  • Zanele Vimbela** (South Africa)
  • Natalie Bright** (Australia)
  • Lauren Tait

Verdict: The headline from Strathclyde Sirens is their two international signings in Vimbela and Bright, which new head coach Lesley MacDonald will no doubt be hoping will boost her side's chances at being more competitive come February. Unlike other bottom-half finishing teams who have brought in lots of new talent, the Sirens line-up remains familiar. The only domestic signing is defender Cullen from London Pulse who offers three positions. In other news, captain Claire Maxwell shows her continued commitment to Sirens as she takes on a coaching role within the franchise's set-up.  

Strathclyde Sirens v Manchester Thunder - Vitality Netball Superleague

London Pulse

  • Chiara Semple
  • Sigi Burger* (Surrey Storm)
  • Olivia Tchine
  • Kira Rothwell
  • Adean Thomas** (Jamaica)
  • Michelle Drayne* (Saracens Mavericks)
  • Chloe Gregory
  • Ashleigh Dekker
  • Zara Everitt* (Loughborough Lightning)
  • Kate Lloyd** (New Zealand)
  • Lindsey Keable* (Saracens Mavericks)
  • Funmi Fadoju
  • Halimat Adio* (Severn Stars)

Verdict: London Pulse witnessed a big exodus of experience during the transfer period with a host of players all leaving to ply their trade elsewhere. England Netball Futures Coach Sam Bird has come in to replace Te Aroha Keenan as Pulse's head coach and with England Netball Performance Coach Dannii Titmus at her side their influence on the squad is immediately obvious.

Pulse appears packed with emerging England talent in the likes of Everitt, Tchine, Adio and Fadoju. Other international stars also feature in the Pulse line-up as South African Sigi Burger makes the move to London from Surrey Storm and is followed by Lloyd from New Zealand and Thomas from Jamaica. To call this squad experimental would not be an overstatement, but having finished bottom in the debut year perhaps an experiment is what is needed to bring about good fortunes for the London side. 

The Vitality Superleague will begin with all teams competing in the new Season Opener on February 22nd at Arena Birmingham. 

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