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Stars looking to “Go into Battle”

Severn Stars’ Head Coach, Sam Bird, says her side are looking to “go into battle” against their Midlands rivals, the reigning Superleague champions, this weekend.

The team is back at the University of Worcester Arena to face Wasps Netball tomorrow (Saturday 17 February), a week after they narrowly lost their opening game of the season by one goal in the final seconds of the match.

But Bird is looking to put that disappointment behind them and says that although Wasps are a strong side, her side has the strength to take them on.

“We’re really excited to play last year’s Champions,” said Bird.  “They have another great squad this year and we are looking to go into battle against them.  It’s great to have two Superleague teams in the West Midlands with players of such high calibre.”

Having led from the first centre pass against Manchester Thunder in their opening match in the Vitality Netball Superleague, Stars had a healthy 10-point lead at half-time.

Though Thunder had closed the deficit, Stars came within a minute of victory before a contact call and subsequent penalty shot saw Thunder take the lead 48-47, giving Stars no time to respond.

Now Stars, a joint franchise between the University of Worcester and University of Gloucestershire, face Coventry-based Wasps, who took the title and began this season with a win against Surrey Storm.

Despite the disappointment of coming so close in Stars’ opening fixture, Bird said the team could take many positives from the game, including how much the side has progressed since its debut season, into the next match.

“Last week we lost by one goal, which was painful for us indeed having lead for so much of the game,” said Bird.

“However, the progress from the season before where we lost heavily to Thunder is to be celebrated and we are positive as a group about continuing to improve through the season.

“It’s a long season and we are confident as a group that we have started our campaign with lots to be positive about.  Clearly Wasps are very strong, but so are we and I’m expecting another humdinger of a match for our fans!”

For tickets to the match, which starts at 6pm, visit www.severnstars.co.uk.


Wasps’ Jade Clarke: “Expecting a tough game”

Wasps Netball’s Jade Clarke is delighted to be back in the Superleague and is relishing the challenge of facing Severn Stars on Saturday.

Her team will be aiming to start the 2018 season with two successive wins when they meet their Midlands rivals at the University of Worcester Arena on Saturday February 17 (6.00pm centre-pass).

Clarke, who joined Wasps Netball in August 2017, experienced her first Vitality Netball Superleague action for the reigning champions in last weekend’s win against Surrey Storm.

The mid-court star, who is England Roses’ most capped player, joined Wasps after spending the majority of the last five years playing in Australia and New Zealand.

Clarke has played with some of the Severn Stars players during her time with England and knows they present a tough test for her new team.

“It was amazing to be out on court last weekend in-front of our home fans and we want to build on that strong start in this game against Severn Stars,” she said.

“I play with Jodie Gibson, Ellie Cardwell and Laura Malcolm for England, so we know they are a strong team.

“Stars are also a bit of an unknown because they have had a couple of new imports into their team this year which will be really important for them.

“We know how solid they are, they are really strong and they will be a lot better than last year. In addition to recruiting well, they have a year’s more experience in the league, so we’re expecting a tough game.

“I love being a Wasp already and it’s good to finally be home and playing in the Superleague.”

Stars head coach Sam Bird recruited South African stars Maryka Holtzhausen and Phumza Maweni for this season, but fell agonisingly short at home to Manchester Thunder in their seasonal opener, losing 47-48 in a hard fought game.

The game could also see a debut for Wasps’ own South African signing Renske Stoltz.

Like Clarke, Wasps’ netball Director Tamsin Greenway is expecting a hard-fought encounter in Worcester.

“Stars ran Manchester Thunder really close on Saturday,” she said. “They have made some quality additions for this year, so they were always going to be stronger.

“It will be another good test for us, but we showed how good we can be when we played Storm and I will be looking for a repeat performance.

“We know our fans will make the short trip to Worcester to support us and their backing is invaluable in away games like this.”

Wasps Netball’s next home game sees them face Sirens at the Ricoh Arena on Thursday, 22 April (7.00pm centre pass). Tickets are available from www.waspsnetball.co.uk/tickets


Mavericks’ Kathryn Ratnapala: “A great group”

2018 VNSL Season Preview from Director of Netball & Head Coach, Kathryn Ratnapala

From http://www.mavericksnetball.co.uk/News/page-358/

The VNSL season is here, finally! It’s been a long journey since the end of last season, planning, ensuring we had the right support staff in place and speaking to players at all hours of the day and night, plus different time zones! We’ve even have an new name and begin 2018 as benecosMavericks. I’m pleased to say that benecosMavericks have a great group of hardworking, passionate and intelligent athletes and staff to take us forward into the 2018 VNSL season.

I’m delighted to be joined by Camilla Buchanan and Mary Waya this season in our Coaching team. Camilla is a long standing Mavericks member and has a wealth of experience on and off the court, having known her and worked with her for quite a few years, we are proving to be a great team on and off the court and it’s great to have her knowledge on the bench.

Mary Waya joined us for Fast 5 back in October 2017 and again is a welcomed part of the Mavericks coaching team, she brings a huge amount of International experience, creativity and flair to the game. Working with the Malawi Queens as a player and a coach, she has been a delight to work with and I’m looking forward to developing this partnership and her sharing her thoughts and ideas with our shooting area in particular.

With the retirement from Superleague netball of Vicklyn Joseph and Rose Morgan-Smith, it has been important to get the right blend of character and player to fill these important Mavericks players trainers going forward. Mavericks has always been a franchise to support internal development through our own pathway but also have looked overseas to ensure the strength and depth of the squad is evident.

Ensuring we had the right squad of players for the season ahead was paramount and I’m excited to welcome back Sasha Corbin, our Captain for the 2018 season and a formidable player and person. Sasha has an extensive history with Mavericks and on the international stage, she brings all of Mavericks values in her heart and I’m really excited to see her back with the Mavericks family in black & purple this season.

Lindsay, Ellie, Clare, Michelle, Raz, Steph, Summer, and Zara have all retained their position within the Mavericks side and I’m delighted to welcome Beth Ecuyer-Dale from Mavericks Youth to come into the 15, Beth worked so hard for the U19s and U21s last season and has continued to impress in the VNSL squad in preseason.

Finally we welcome the following players to the Mavericks family, we can’t wait to see you in black & purple Karyn Bailey, Kalifa McCollin, Gabs Marshall, Alice Travis and Frankie Wells.

This season is set to be an exciting one. There has been a lot of change across the league and new players welcomed from all over the world as well as the introduction of much young British talent to this level of netball.  We feel we will be strong contenders this year and look forward to every single match up.  We start our campaign today, away to Celtic Dragons and are looking to put out a strong performance and demonstrate what we will bring to play this season. We’re excited for everyone to see the hard work of the off season put into action.

Thanks to all our fans, volunteers and sponsors for making benecosMavericks a welcoming, supportive and successful environment to be part of. I’m excited to get the season underway and show you all what it means to wear the black & purple dress and to #BeAMaverick

For the latest benecosMavericks news, head over to their official website or follow them on Twitter.

Buy tickets for their home fixtures here.


British Fast5 All-Stars to return on October 13

The British Fast5 Netball All-Stars Championship will return on Saturday, October 13 at Copper Box Arena, London with tickets on pre-sale for England Netball members from Monday, February 12 and general sale from Tuesday, February 13.

The inaugural Fast5 All-Stars took place last September, when international all-star Renske Stoltz helped lead Loughborough Lightning to the title and £25,000 first prize. The South African collected the MVP award after taking full advantage of the tournament’s Golden Buzzer Power Play and five-point line to guide Lightning to a pulsating 35-33 success over Team Bath in the final.

The best of British netball will again be showcased by the tournament in 2018. Defending champions Loughborough Lightning will return, to be joined by the top seven teams from the 2018 Netball Superleague.

Matchroom Sport Chairman Barry Hearn said: “The first British Fast5 Netball All-Stars Championship was a tremendous success and we are delighted that the tournament will return in October.

“Last year’s All-Stars saw Sky Sports bring in their highest ever viewing figures for netball and the feedback from those watching and the many who attended the event was overwhelmingly positive and it is exciting for netball that the Fast5 All-Stars will take place again this autumn.

“Loughborough Lightning really bought into the concept and it was fitting that one of their All-Star players Renske Stoltz collected the MVP award. The tournament is a great opportunity for Superleague teams and players to showcase their skills on a huge stage and take home a share of the record-breaking £100,000 prize fund.”

England Netball CEO Joanna Adams, added: “The inaugural Fast5 Netball All-Stars Championship was a fantastic spectacle and we can’t wait for the Superleague teams to show off their skill, athleticism and flair in the 2018 edition.

“The buzz that was created around the event shows that there is a real thirst for this format of the game and with the England Roses winning the international version in October, our fans can expect to see our players showcase the talent that took us to the top.

“We thank Matchroom Sport for their continued commitment to the sport and look forward to developing our partnership further with the second staging of this tournament.”

Tickets for the 2018 British Fast5 Netball All-Stars Championship will be available via www.fast5allstars.co.uk with tickets priced at £20, £30 and £40 with courtside hospitality tickets available at £99. Under 18s receive 50% off tickets, excluding courtside hospitality. Family and group discounts will be available.

The 2018 British Fast5 Netball All-Stars Championship will take place 1-6pm on Saturday, October 13 at Copper Box Arena, London.