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Jade Clarke of Leeds Rhinos.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 26: Jade Clarke of Leeds Rhinos in action during the Vitality Netball Superleague Semi Final match between Loughborough Lightning and Leeds Rhinos at Copper Box Arena on June 26, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Morgan Harlow/Getty Images)

Leeds Rhinos Netball have completed their squad for the 2022 Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) season with the re-signing of Vitality Roses international Jade Clarke.

The first ever signing for Rhinos Netball, Clarke was an ever present in their inaugural season, playing a key role in helping the team reach the Finals weekend and a fourth place finish. An inspirational player, who won the respect and admiration of her team mates and was named the Players’ Player of the Year at the club’s annual awards night.

Clarke, 37, who plays centre and wing defence, is the most capped England player of all time. She made her Vitality Roses debut against New Zealand in 2003 and has gone on to play 182 times for her country and was part of the all-conquering Vitality Roses team at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Commenting on her new deal, Clarke said: “I am so excited, it is such an amazing group of girls, so hard working, so professional. We all push each other in training and every single player, whether they are on or off the court, in those match days really raise their game. I am just looking forward to being back with them and seeing what we can do in year two.

“I didn’t know a lot of the girls before I started but I was just so impressed with them.  There are lots of young guns so it is just a pleasure for me to watch them grow.

“It was an interesting year last year in central venues but I am looking forward to playing in front of a home crowd.  All the messages we got last year from people who were watching on TV was great and we are going to be able see them now week in and week out at our home ground and I think that will give us an extra boost knowing that they are watching us.”

The Manchester born player began her career with Loughborough and she has gone on to play at the highest level in three different countries. After four seasons with Lightning she joined Northern Thunder. In 2010, she moved to New Zealand to compete in the ANZ Premiership with Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic and two years later signed for Northern Mystics.

In 2013, she joined Canterbury Tactix and that season was named their Player of the Year. She signed for Australian side New South Wales in 2015 and then Adelaide Thunderbirds.  In 2018 she returned to the Vitality Netball Superleague to play for Wasps where she won the VNSL title.

On the international scene, Clarke has appeared in four Commonwealth Games and five Vitality Netball World Cups. She won a Commonwealth Games bronze medal in 2006 and 2010 and then in her 150th appearance for the Roses was part of the side who defeated Australia to win the Commonwealth Games gold in 2018.

In 2019 she represented her country in the Vitality Netball World Cup on home soil and played in every game of the tournament to win her third World Cup bronze medal.  She is currently part of the Vitality Roses programme for 2021-22 and last month took part in the tour successful to New Zealand.

Dan Busfield, Leeds Rhinos Netball’s Franchise Director, said: “Securing Jade’s signature for our second season was key for our club.  She was outstanding last season and her class shone through.  She is a legend of the game and her experience and leadership, both on and off the court, were hugely valuable to the team in our debut season.

“We have a big year coming up and we all want to build on what we achieved last season and I think we have an exciting squad that will be able to challenge for a top four finish once again.”

Maggie Birkinshaw, assistant coach for Rhinos Netball, added: “Jade re-signing for Rhinos Netball is huge for our club.  She is selfless, extremely kind, team focussed and a deadly competitor and an absolute demon on the court who knows how to win.

“Her experience and knowledge of the game is so valuable and I know the whole team learned so much from her last season.  She radiates positivity across the whole squad and leads in driving performance standards.”

Leeds Rhinos Netball also confirmed Britt Coleman, Michelle Magee and Lydia Walker as their three training partners for the 2022 Vitality Netball Superleague campaign.

Coleman, 24, and Magee, 21, who were both part of the Rhinos squad last season, return for 2022 and are joined by former Yorkshire Jets player Lydia Walker.

The full Rhinos Netball squad for 2022 is: Rhea Dixon, Vicki Oyesola, Sienna Rushton, Tuaine Keenan, Amelia Hall, Amy Clinton, Rebekah Airey, Paige Kindred, Brie Grierson, Emily Hollingworth, Sigi Burger, Jade Clarke, Britt Coleman, Michelle Magee and Lydia Walker.

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