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Nicole Dixon

Dixon takes centre stage

After being sent off for two minutes against Surrey Storm, Jamaican Vitality Netball Superleague centre Nicole Dixon will inevitably have all eyes on her this evening.

Tonight she faces an almighty battle against the experienced New Zealand star Joline Johansson as Team Northumbria host the very much in-form Hertfordshire Mavericks.

Here’s what Team Northumbria had to say ahead of tonight’s clash – which will be LIVE on Sky Sports 3 from 7.30pm TONIGHT:

Nicole Dixon will be thrust into the Superleague spotlight tonight as the Jamaican international faces her stiffest test yet.

Team Northumbria’s close-season signing starts her third top flight clash when Hertfordshire Mavericks visit Sport Central.

And after falling foul of the officials at Surrey on Friday night, dynamic centre Dixon must keep her cool against veteran New Zealand star Joline Johansson.

“I felt Nicole could have handled herself a little better against the Storm,” admitted TN coach Te Aroha Keenan.

“It wasn’t as if she was being deliberately aggressive – she was just a little late on a couple of occasions when trying to intercept the ball.

“I’ve had a chat with her and she’s spoken with her coach in Jamaica to work out how she can play her natural game and stay in the game.

“As a team we need to support her better. I think we all accept that. But I’ll be keeping a close eye on how she handles herself against Mavericks.”

Pocket rocket Dixon has always played on the edge and is one of the fittest and fastest players to wear the TN dress.

Keenan is reluctant to tame her centre court powerhouse.

But Dixon’s two minute penalty for persistent fouling against Surrey left the visitors a player short against the reigning champions.

Johansson – with 91 New Zealand caps under her belt – is one of the biggest stars in world netball.

And the Mavericks’ decision to use the veteran Kiwi as a centre, rather than in her natural position as wing defence, will further test Dixon’s Superleague credentials.

“We don’t worry too much about the opposition,” added Johansson’s fellow New Zealander Keenan. “We prefer to concentrate on our own game and focus on how we will achieve our objectives.
“Joline is an on-court general which explains her switch to centre in the NSL. It will be interesting to see how we handle her.”

Keenan is hoping to receive international clearance for Kiwi shooter Chiara Semple in time for the TN star to make her Superleague debut tonight.

And there could be court time for fellow summer signing Brie Grierson with the youngster close to full fitness.

Scotland international Gemma Sole comes into contention after the shooter impressed against Storm on Friday.

And Keenan must decide whether to recall captain Natalie Connor after the Hartlepool defender was left on the bench in Surrey.

Tonight’s action starts at 7.45pm with tickets still available from Sport Central reception or online by visiting www.nusportcentral.com

Don’t forget that if you didn’t manage to get your hands on tickets you can watch the game LIVE on Sky Sports 3 from 7.30pm!