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Kyra Jones of Wales.

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 11: Kyra Jones of Wales hadnles the ball during the Netball match between Malawi and Wales on day seven of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast Convention Centre on April 11, 2018 on the Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

Ten Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) 2021 players feature in the first senior Welsh Netball squad in more than two years.

The 15-strong squad will take to court in in Glasgow for a weekend of friendly matches from Friday 20 August to Sunday 22 August against Northern Ireland and hosts Scotland.

Wales will be using these games as critical match practice as the team aims to secure qualification for the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham by the deadline of 31 January 2022.

The squad features ten senior VNSL stars who competed in the division last term including the likes of Severn Stars’ Georgia Rowe and Celtic Dragons’ Clare Jones.

In total, four Superleague teams – Celtic Dragons, Severn Stars, Team Bath, Wasps – are represented in the squad selected by former Manchester Thunder player and Wales Head Coach Sara Hale.

Zoe Matthewman, who played for Wales’ U21 side at the recent Performance Competition in Sheffield, has been selected. Matthewman currently represents Loughborough Lightning’s U21 team.

The 15 athletes named in the Wales Senior Squad are:

  • Georgia Rowe (Severn Stars)
  • Betsy Creak (Team Bath)
  • Lydia Hitchings (Team Bath Toucans)
  • Zoe Matthewman (Loughborough Lightning U21)
  • Suzy Drane (Team Bath Toucans)
  • Clare Jones (Celtic Dragons)
  • Celyn Emanual (Glamorgan Valleys)
  • Kyra Jones (Severn Stars)
  • Shona O’Dwyer (Celtic Dragons)
  • Nia Jones (Severn Stars)
  • Leila Thomas (Celtic Dragons)
  • Christina Shaw (Celtic Dragons)
  • Ella Powell-Davies (Wasps)
  • Millie Carter (South East/Ystrad Mynach)
  • Lucy Howells (Celtic Dragons)

The last time the Wales senior squad competed was in the 2019 summer test series held at the Viola Arena in Cardiff. The matches later this month against Scotland and Northern Ireland will take place at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow.

Sara Hale, Head Coach, said of the team announcement: “We are extremely excited to get back onto the match court. Like everyone, it has been an incredibly challenging 18 months, but the team has worked hard on their development off-court, and they are hungry to perform, so we see this as a great opportunity.

“Now that we’ve been able to reunite as a team, I’m really excited to see what we can do, and I see this as a real opportunity to build some strong foundations over what will be a crucial year for us. It’s a great marker in the sand for us as a group; the combination of big-match experience from some of our existing players, along with the youth and eagerness to show what they can do at senior level from our newer members will stand us in good stead.

“I absolutely believe this team can qualify for the Commonwealth Games next year and subsequently the 2023 Netball World Cup, and we’ll take to the court in Glasgow later this month with determination and positivity.”

Wales takes on Northern Ireland 16:00 on Saturday 21 August, and then Scotland 13:00 on Sunday 22 August. Also, in attendance and representing Wales during the weekend will be Welsh umpire Rhian Edwards.

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