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Five Superleague stars featured in Northern Ireland squad

Five Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) players have been included in Northern Ireland’s senior squad set to take on the Republic of Ireland this weekend.

Niamh Cooper, Michelle Drayne, Emma Magee, Michelle Magee, and Fi Toner have all been included in the squad of 12 who face their local rivals at Lisburn Racquets on Saturday 7 August at 14:00.

Three VNSL teams have been represented in the squad with Storm’s Cooper and Emma Magee, London Pulse’s Drayne, and Leeds Rhinos’ Michelle Magee and Toner all involved.

After a successful season with Rhinos, Toner will captain her country in their first international match on home soil since September 2019. Drayne and Cooper, meanwhile, have been selected as vice captains.

All four players were in action for Warriors under former Head Coach Dan Ryan in their 2019 Vitality Netball World Cup campaign two years ago. The quartet also played important parts in the 2021 Superleague season for their respective clubs.

New Head Coach Elaine Rice said: “It has been almost two years since we have played an international test. In this time, the girls have been doing a lot of individual training and more recently collectively. We train to play, and this test is so important to assess our standards, plan our next few months and evaluate players under test settings.

“We are hopeful that this will springboard the next few months training with further tests in August and October. We are fortunate that Republic of Ireland are also keen to get their athletes back on court and renew our rivalry!”

Rice will have the chance to analyse her squad ahead of the recently announced friendly competition with the likes of Scotland and Wales at the end of the summer.

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