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Jodie Gibson continued her return from injury with a starring role (Image: Ben Lumley)

Jodie Gibson’s mission for this Vitality Netball Superleague season is to get teammate Razia Quashie to the World Cup next summer.

The Saracens Mavericks defender is determined to continue strengthening the formidable partnership with the 24-year-old Quashie and qualify for the final series.

It will be Gibson’s fourth season with the Hertfordshire club and under the new stewardship of former assistant manager Camilla Buchanan, she is hoping to go one better after finishing fifth in the last two seasons.

But there is extra motivation for the Commonwealth Gold medallist to shine this year.

“My mission is to get Razia to the World Cup,” said Gibson.

“Razia’s mission is to get herself to the World Cup, but I’m going to do what I need to do to make sure the partnership between us is the strongest it’s ever been, so Jess Thirlby has to pick her for that team.

“Whatever I can do to make her look even better than she already does on her own through her own talents, that’s what I’m here for.”

Quashie will not only be trying to impress England coach Thirlby, but also Buchanan, who steps up into the role vacated by Kat Ratnapala.

Gibson added: “I think Camilla is ready and I think she’s done an incredible job as an assistant coach, so for Camilla to step into that head coach role, I’m so excited that she can bring her visions to life.

“She’s so passionate and she’s so knowledgable. I think having her knowledge and having her passion for Saracens Mavericks and for netball, we’re in really good hands.

“When the announcements come out and people can see the players that Camilla’s recruited, I think you’ll see she’s gone for a real depth of talent, from youth to experienced players.

“We’ve got some incredible players coming in and we’ve retained some incredible players. I think it’s a really exciting group.”

Joining Buchanan in the coaching set-up is Tamsin Greenway, five-time Superleague champion as a player, and Gibson believes the pair is a match made in heaven.

“Tamsin needs no introduction,” said Gibson. “We all know how incredible Tamsin was as a player, we all know how incredible Tamsin is as a commentator, as an analyst and head coach of Scotland. I’ve heard nothing but good things.

“That’s why I’m smiling so much because I know that together they’re going to create something really special for Saracens.”

At 29, Gibson is now the second oldest player on the Mavericks’ squad and is already planning for a life post-retirement centred around coaching and teaching.

Having completed her teaching qualifications she has taken up a post as PE teacher at Mill Hill School and was Saracens Under 17s coach last season.

“I am like a sponge,” she added. “Sometimes I sit down and I think I have had some of the most incredible netball coaches throughout my career and I wish that I started taking notes so much earlier.

“There are so many things that when I go into sessions I’m like, ‘Oh, that little nugget that that coach said to me a few years ago or that drill that I remember was incredible.’

“For the best coaches, it’s not coaches and players, it’s ‘we’. We are together and that for me is what I’ve learned from some of the best coaches.

“I know it’s the girls doing it on the court, but I feel every single pass, every tip, every interception and my goodness my heartrate when I’m coaching… I’d rather be playing!”

And while she’s still on the court, Gibson can’t wait to get started on another Vitality Superleague campaign, and she exudes optimism for the long season ahead.

“It means so much to be back with Saracens. I’m super excited to get started with the girls. It feels incredible to be part of this team,” said Gibson

“I’ve been with Saracens for three years and each year we’ve been building and each year unfortunately we haven’t made that top four.

“We started last season so strong and unfortunately with injuries and lots of things that were unforeseen through the season, we were all very disappointed.

“But we move on to this season and we’re looking to go again for that top four spot.”

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