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Super 10

All ten Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) sides are being represented at the Vitality Netball World Cup in Liverpool this July. When Australia face Northern Ireland at the M&S Bank Arena, Liverpool, on the opening day, three players who featured in the 2019 VNSL season will hope to star.

The Lowdown

Reigning champions Australia will begin their title defence against Northern Ireland at 11am on Day One of the competition in Liverpool. The current world number ones will hope to get off to the best possible start as they look to achieve their fourth consecutive World Cup title.

With coach Lisa Alexander at the helm since 2011, the Aussies have enjoyed their fair share of success under her leadership but missed out on adding another Commonwealth Games gold to their collection after being beaten by England in the 2018 final.

Following on from that defeat, only seven players of the 12 involved in that squad will be involved in this year’s World Cup. Furthermore, only three – captain Caitlin Bassett, Caitlin Thwaites and Paige Hadley – remain from the 2015 team that took the top prize on home soil in Sydney.

Former Manchester Thunder coach Dan Ryan is currently in charge of Northern Ireland, who are ranked eighth in the International Netball Federation’s World Rankings. The Australian will be hoping to shock his home nation in their opening game and come away with a victory.

Northern Ireland will make their twelfth appearance at netball’s pinnacle event when they land in Liverpool this July. The side qualified for Liverpool alongside Scotland at the Regional Qualifier–Europe event in January 2018. They’ll be hoping to better their highest World Cup finishing position to date – seventh at the 1983 World Cup in Singapore.

VNSL Players Involved

  • Caroline O’Hanlon (Northern Ireland & Manchester Thunder)

Captaining Northern Ireland at the Vitality Netball World Cup will be Caroline O’Hanlon, who had an impressive season as part of Manchester Thunder’s title-winning side. This will be the 34 year old’s third World Cup, after previously competing in Kingston (2003) and Singapore (2011).

  • Fionnuala Toner (Northern Ireland & London Pulse)

London Pulse’s Fionnuala Toner will serve as vice-captain. Liverpool will be her second World Cup, after being named in her country’s team for the 2011 edition. She’s heading into the competition off the back of a great season which saw her complete the most interceptions for her side across the regular season.

  • Michelle Drayne (Northern Ireland & Saracens Mavericks)

Saracens Mavericks’ Michelle Drayne is the third Vitality Netball Superleague representative in Ryan’s squad. With 58 caps and two Commonwealth Games for her nation, the centre/wing attack will add plenty of experience to the side.

Head-to-Head

Northern Ireland and Australia have met five times at previous World Cups with the Diamonds running out winners on each occasion.

The last time the pair met was at last year’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, with Australia coming away 94-26 winners. Northern Ireland had to wait until their fourth game of the Games to get their first win, eventually finishing eighth overall in the competition.

Make sure you’re following the Vitality Netball Superleague on Twitter for the latest news and updates!

Written by Amos Wynn 

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