This Saturday at Arena Birmingham, the Vitality Netball Superleague returns in full force with all 10 teams taking to the court across five matches.
The season-opener, whose new format announced as part of the 15th anniversary of the Superleague, will be included in the total number of rounds in this year's season bumping the number from 18 to 19 rounds.
The format for the day is determined by where the teams finished in the 2019 Vitality Netball Superleague. Meaning that Champions Manchester Thunder will begin their title defence against Wasps Netball, the team they overcame in the Grand Final to win their crown.
The fixture list:
- 11:00 – STRATHCLYDE SIRENS v LONDON PULSE
- 12:45 – CELTIC DRAGONS v SURREY STORM
- 14:30 – SARACENS MAVERICKS v SEVERN STARS
- 16:15 – TEAM BATH v LOUGHBOROUGH LIGHTNING
- 18:00 – WASPS NETBALL v MANCHESTER THUNDER
Given how close the 2019 season was, with the top four places determined the final round of matches last year, these table rivalry match-ups could prove crucial to the success of teams down the line.
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Rules and regulations
Other new details to wrap your head around are the new rules being applied to this year's season. The most significant being a new substitution rule whereby players will be permitted request a substitution from umpires in the same way they are able to request a time for an injury or illness, ending the reign of feigning an injury in order to come off.
We ran the rule over the 2020 squads when the transfer deadline window ended but in case you missed it, or want a short summary then we have you sorted right here.
Predictions for the season
With Thunder and Wasps retaining much of their squads and bolstering any lost players with equally strong talent it can be expected that these two Superleague stalwarts will make it once more into the semi-finals.
The real battle for the last two semi-final spots will be between Saracens Mavericks, Team Bath and Loughborough Lightning.
Mavericks just missed out on the top four last year but with several England Roses now in their line-up and with Kat Ranapala still at the reigns they will certainly look to command wary respect from all opposition. Team Bath perhaps look the weakest of the three remaining contenders. With no Serena Guthrie and Lightning able to retain Ugandan shooting superstar Mary Cholhok, the yellow and blue will have to work hard to say in contention.
Scalps were also certainly had last season and top five must still be cautious heading into all their clashes.
This year expectant eyes will be on Severn Stars to cause an upset. Securing some big signings including Thunder's lethal wing attack Liana Leota, Stars are no doubt the dark horse of the 2020 season.
But perhaps spare a thought too for London Pulse. Finishing bottom last year they have a point to prove and with South African international Sigi Burger and Chiara Semple in their shooting circle, they certainly look set to do just that.News Now - Sport News