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The world gets ready to get to know van der Merwe  

Credit: Ben Lumley

With a year under her belt for Manchester Thunder, Shadine van der Merwe did not have to worry about her teammates figuring her out in 2023. 

The South Africa international was embraced by her clubmates and Netball Super League fans alike as she and Thunder went unbeaten last season. 

Van der Merwe was delighted to be part of a winning team, only tasting defeat for the first time in Thunder colours in Round 2 of their 2023 campaign.  

“I just love the franchise and the culture they have,” the defender said. “For me as a player, it’s not always easy to go abroad and people have to learn Shadine or get to know Shadine.   

“The second time I came here, it just felt like home. It’s nice to know that you’re welcome and they encourage me to be a better player and a better human being.  

 

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A post shared by Shadine van der Merwe (@shadine_vdm)


“It’s nice that they wanted me here so it was important for me to come back and make sure I gained that experience.  

“This is a big year, going to the Netball World Cup later this year, and it gives me the opportunity to train with the best and play against the best. 

“It’s very important to keep on learning and I get that experience here. I just love how the management and the coaching staff are working with us. 

“And I just love the girls, it’s so good to be a part of the group, it is just easy.” 

Van der Merwe first joined the NSL in 2018, playing two seasons for Surrey Storm before heading to Australia to represent Adelaide Thunderbirds in Suncorp Super Netball.  

She made her World Cup debut in Liverpool in 2019 and has again been selected for the Proteas as they host the Vitality Netball World Cup for the first time later this year. 

The 30-year-old has brought some of her South African culture to Manchester, introducing fans to the ‘Waka Waka’ dance that was popularised when her country hosted the men’s football World Cup in 2010.  

 

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A post shared by Shadine van der Merwe (@shadine_vdm)


Having travelled the world playing her sport, netball is coming to van der Merwe and she has given people an idea of what to expect in South Africa.

She added: “I bring a lot of good energy and fun vibes. I can be serious as well, but I would rather lean towards the ‘having fun’ Shadine. 

“Although as I’m getting older, I prefer having my cup of tea at night!   

“For me, it’s really important to give time to people and make sure you spend a lot of time with the people you care about, even if that means just going for a quick coffee.   

“I do love my coffee, I’m a coffee snob if nobody knew that. I’ve experienced that Manchester does have good coffee, so that’s a bonus point.”  

Whether it is good energy or caffeine, Van der Merwe has been a vocal presence on the bench for Thunder this season as she has battled injuries. 

 

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A post shared by Shadine van der Merwe (@shadine_vdm)


The imposing defender still made an impact in the 12 games she played for the 2022 champions this season, with 32 deflections and 31 turnovers.

Van der Merwe was out on court on Grand Final day with her injury woes seemingly behind her, but if not she was ready to make her presence heard.

“I get quite involved in the game,” Van der Merwe admits. “I sit next to Yomi [Eza-Wilson] and she always complains she forgot her earplugs during the match because she says I’m all up in her ears.  

“I’m like, ‘Well they need to hear me’. Even when we get our key points for the game, Karen [Greig, head coach] always gives us something as well.  

“Sometimes you will hear me and Kerry [Almond] from the sideline. It’s great that the players on court can hear our voices. 

“I think it’s just important that even if you’re not playing you are still involved and make sure your presence is there.”

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