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Shadine Van Der Merwe of Manchester Thunder.

BATH, ENGLAND - JANUARY 28: Shadine Van Der Merwe and Sigi Burger of Surrey Storm celebrate on the final whistle during the Vitality Netball Superleague match between Team Bath and Surrey Storm at the University of Bath on January 28, 2019 in Bath, England. (Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images for England Netball)

Manchester Thunder have signed South African defender Shadine van der Merwe for the 2022 Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) season.

Van der Merwe arrives from Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) side Adelaide Thunderbirds and joins Natalie Haythornthwaite at the club after she joined from NSW Swifts earlier this week.

Born in Pretoria, van der Merwe was part of the South African squad who finished in fifth place at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and fourth place at the 2019 Vitality Netball World Cup, losing out to the Vitality Roses 58-42 in the bronze medal match.

The 28-year-old has played all over the world. In South Africa, she was with Gauteng Jaguars for five years before coming to the UK to play for Superleague side Surrey Storm where she received the 2019 Best and Fairest Award.

In 2019, she made her debut with SSN side Adelaide Thunderbirds having joined as an injury replacement for Beth Cobden. She continued to thrive at in Adelaide, with her strong performances being rewarded with a place on the 2020 and 2021 rosters, as well as being named in the leadership team.

Pitre Bourdon, Thunderbirds High Performance Manager, said: “Shadine is a wonderful person who is incredibly well-respected at our club by not only her teammates but the staff and fanbase too. Shadine will forever be a part of our Thunderbirds family and we wish her all the very best for the future.”

After three years and 36 games in Australia, van der Merwe has now decided to depart the club for the 2022 season and join Manchester Thunder.

Speaking about her arrival in Manchester, Shadine Van der Merwe said: “I’m very excited to be joining Thunder for the up-and-coming season next year. I’m really excited to be putting on the yellow and black dress and see what Thunder have in store.

“It’s a very important journey for me in my netball career, especially going in to the Commonwealth Games next year in Birmingham. Making the decision to come back to the Vitality Netball Superleague was to help myself build up confidence – it’s an amazing platform for any individual netball player to gain a lot of experience, especially for me playing overseas to help myself improve and play against some amazing players.

“Playing in in Australia has taught me how to play professionally, where in South Africa we still don’t have that full time professional platform. As a player, I know there is always room for improvement, and you grow so much just learning and experiencing coming up against all of the best players in the world.

“What I’ve learned is that every weekend when you play against any team, it is like an international game, and you have to go in with a strong mentality and make sure that your body is strong and fit too to compete against the best.

“I’m looking forward to join Manchester Thunder as I’ve heard from so many players that it is a nice family unity, and that is a strong value for me. I can’t wait to work with great coaches too, with Tracey [Neville MBE] as my defensive coach. I’ve usually only ever seen her on the sidelines when I’ve played against England Roses, but I’m looking forward to learning a lot from her on her defensive structure, and I know she will add a lot to my defensive style and skillset.”

Tracey Neville MBE, Thunder’s Performance Operations Director, said: “I am delighted that Shadine has put pen to paper for Thunder this season. She is an athlete that I have admired over the past few seasons with her performances for both Thunderbirds and South Africa.

“She is a super smart defender who can effectively offer us both Wing Defence and Goal Defence positions. The style of player that she is I think will be a great fit for how we like to play the game at Thunder. I am looking forward to seeing what she can bring to the squad and working with her.”

Van der Merwe is Manchester Thunder’s second confirmed transfer of the 2022 Signing Window after Natalie Haythornthwaite joined earlier in the week. You can see Thunder’s squad as it develops here.

For all the latest of signings during the window, make sure to follow the @NetballSL on Twitter, Instagram and visit our Transfers page.

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