The Vitality Netball Superleague is starting with a bang on Saturday as all eight teams grace one court in Birmingham at Super Saturday.
Starting as it means to go on, Super Saturday is sure to set the bar high for London Live on 5 March, Manchester Live on 18 April and last but not least the Superleague Grand Final on 7 May!
With new-look teams and new players in every franchise, this season is the most hotly-anticipated but also the most difficult to predict.
Pre-season friendly matches have shown Team Bath to be one of the stronger teams, having beaten Celtic Dragons 62-46, Hertfordshire Mavericks 33-28 and 2015 Superleague Champions Surrey Storm 30-25.
Team Bath lost only one of their matches in a battle against Team Northumbria. Bath player Mia Ritchie spoke about the excitement of being coached by Anna Stembridge this season, saying: ‘To have her back at Team Bath is like a breath of fresh air and everyone’s looking forward to being under her wing this season.’
Team Northumbria have been blessed with many imports this season, which will certainly fortify their strength across the court as we have already seen in their preseason campaign.
Keep your eyes peeled for Kiwi Tuaine Keenan and Jamaican players Shanice Beckford and Nicole Dixon. Team Northumbria finished at the bottom of the table last season but they’re looking stronger than ever in 2016.
Surrey Storm are retaining ten of last year’s squad who were crowned 2015 Superleague Champions, making them one of the most experienced and well-knit teams this year.
Will this stand in their favour against newly-formed teams such as Northumbria? Super Saturday will be enlightening!
Celtic Dragons also finished in the bottom-half of the table in 2015 and with the loss of key shooter and Welsh player Chelsea Lewis to Team Bath everyone is wondering how they will fare in the 2016 season.
However, with Fijian imports Afa Rusivakila and Epi Kahatoka, there really is no predicting how this season will go!
2014 Superleague Champions Manchester Thunder are looking formidable this season. We saw attackers Helen Housby, Sara Bayman, Laura Malcolm and Natalie Haythornwaite take to the court against the Australian Diamonds in the Vitality International Netball Series earlier this month and my oh my were they looking good!
Other than Roses royalty, Thunder have welcomed Jamaican defender Malysha Kelly and Kiwi mid-courter Liana Leota making Thunder a force to be reckoned with across the entire court. Take into consideration their new coach Dan Ryan and it seems Manchester Thunder just might be landing at the top of the table.
Yorkshire Jets finished third last season and with defensive powerhouse and new captain Stacey Francis taking the reigns on the court, they may be able to build on that this season.
Fijian Maria Lutua, Australian Sophia Halpin and South African all-rounder Vanes-Mari du Toit will no doubt strengthen the squad – they will be looking to beat their success last year where they won 10 out of 14 fixtures.
Loughborough Lightning are captained by Jade Clarke this year and have welcomed the Corbin sisters, Ugandan shooter Peace Proscovia as well as Kiwi defender Joanna Trip.
Lightning are one of two teams who have named a leadership group rather than a vice-captain and this includes Sasha Corbin, Ama Agbeze and Joanna Trip – can they steer the team to victory?
From one purple team to another, Hertfordshire Mavericks have introduced Silver Ferns player Joline Johansson along with Trinidad and Tobago shooter Sammy Wallace.
Mavericks may be one of the weaker teams this year having lost Sophia Candappa and the Corbin sisters, however up-and-coming England player’s George Fisher and Lindsay Keable might just keep the team in the battle for the 2016 Superleague title!
Super Saturday will be the sensational start of the 2016 Vitality Netball Superleague tale and we can’t wait. Make sure you tune into Sky Sports to catch the action live.