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Manchester Thunder complete line up for 2024 season

Four-time champions Manchester Thunder have selected their squad of 12 for the 2024 Netball Super League (NSL) season.

Defence

Josie Huckle returns to Thunder for next season. After securing a place in the 2023 squad and making an impressive debut for the side, Huckle heads back to the north for a second stint with the team. A solid spot secured in the top ten for most turnovers and deflections in 2023, Huckle is set to do the same again as her side goes for gold next year.

Huckle said:

“I just want to keep building on what I was starting to produce by the end of last season. I think Karen and Gabs have managed to get something great out of me, and I think I’m playing some of my best netball. I just want to keep growing, keep learning and keep contributing as best I can for Manchester Thunder.”

After starting her NSL journey in 2008, Kerry Almond is set to become one of the most formidable goal keepers in all of the league’s history. Now returning for her 15th season, Almond is excited for yet another year ahead with the squad.

“I could never have imagined that when I started in 2008 that I would still be playing sixteen years later. The Thunder fans, when you’re out on court, they are truly your eighth player. I know it sounds like a total cliché, but they actually are.

“Belle Vue is the loudest place that I know I have played in the Super League, and they really just get you over the line in those tough games, and when you are winning by a fair margin, they are always there to push you on to get more. They never let you rest, which is a really good thing, and I can’t wait to have that again this season with bigger and better crowds.”

Ella Bowen also returns as part of Manchester Thunders defensive unit for 2024. A key player in their side for 2023, Bowen stepped up when her team needed her most. Her impressive performance in the third-place play-off at Grand Final weekend also helped her side to win that bronze medal.

Manchester Thunder Head Coach and Franchise Director, Karen Greig, said:

“I am delighted that Ella will be re-joining us for the new season. Ella really grew as the season went on last year and her athletic abilities really help in her ability to win ball at just the right time. She is a fantastic asset to us both on and off the court and I’m looking to see her connections continue to grow in the 2024 season.”

Completing the defensive line up for Thunder’s 2024 campaign is South African international, and fan favourite, Shadine van der Merwe. This will be her third season in black and yellow and the defender cannot wait to get going again for another season.

After representing her country at the 2023 Netball World Cup, van der Merwe hopes to bring that international experience back to court in February.

She said: “The World Cup was just amazing. I think being able to represent your country on home soil was really special and the fact my friends, my family and my brothers were there, my heart was really full. When we stepped on the court, the fans were very loud, so the experience was amazing, not just for South Africa but for netball in Africa, and it was a great experience.”

Mid-court

Following her amazing performance last season for Manchester Thunder, Taylor McKevitt shone as a player, making 17 appearances for Thunder, helping to bring energy and strength to the team. Also known for her TikTok dances and days in the life, McKevitt is hoping to bring some of the behind the scenes of Thunder to life.

Taylor said:

“I’m really excited for the 2024 season. I know with me being the first player to be announced that the fans don’t know who we’ve got signed, but we’ve got a really exciting squad this year and I can’t wait for everybody to finally find out what we’ve been working on.”

After a season out in 2022 due to injury, Amy Carter came back with a vengeance in 2023, pushing herself and her team to the max. A junior doctor by day, Carter leaves all her energy out on court, and we cannot wait to see her back on court for Thunder in 2024.

Karen Greig Head Coach and Director of Manchester Thunder adds: “After a fantastic season back following a year out with her ACL injury, Amy picked up where she left off. She is a really intelligent player, who is almost stealth-like and can win the ball just at the right time.

“Her timing and natural instincts in attack complement our style of play and her fearlessness to release the ball into shooters is enviable. I am looking forward to seeing Amy build and push forward again this season.”

One of the big signings from this Signing Window has been Imogen Allison who has swapped the Blue and Gold of Bath for the Yellow and Black of Thunder. Familiar with the likes of Amy Carter and Nat Metcalf from the Netball World Cup, Allison hopes to bring this international experience to court in 2024.

Allison said: “The Thunder team vibes look really good to be around and also playing in Manchester is always really noisy, so I’m excited for that crowd. As an opposition, playing in the Thunderdome was daunting, but I’ve always liked it because I love the noise and to hear how passionate the fans are. I’m planning to bring good vibes, lot’s of hard work at training but also I want to enjoy it with the team and with the girls.”

Stepping out fresh from winning a silver medal at the Netball World Cup, Natalie Metcalf has re-signed for Thunder next year. With another season to come in black and yellow, Metcalf is ready and raring to go.

She said:

“I absolutely love the environment at Thunder, and I think the people are incredible. The players are amazing, the coaches, the staff, everyone. It’s a massive, combined effort to make Thunder who they are and there’s a massive family feel amongst the team. Thinking about playing for Thunder again this season is really exciting.”

Shooters

During the 2023 season, Lois Pearson starred in all 20 games and scored 333 goals. Her growth was significant last season and she is a product of the Thunder talent pathway. Starting her netball career back in 2012, it was the 2021 season where she stepped up to become a first team squad member.

Pearson reflects:

“I think it’s nice to have been in the Thunder pathway all the way through. I think Thunder are really good at retaining all of their players, so it’s been really nice to play now at Super League level with all of the players who I played with when I was younger and having Karen who also coached me through the pathway.”

It’s not every day where you see a franchise sign a 16 year-old, however, Thunder have spotted talent in rising star Anya Williams who has secured her first NSL contract. Another Thunder pathway player, Williams has been elevated into the 2024 squad, hoping to make a name for herself.

Karen Greig, Franchise Director and Head Coach said:

“At just 16, I really believe Anya is one of the most exciting natural talents. I’m delighted that we can promote her from our pathway and give her this opportunity to really hone her natural abilities and start to develop at a senior level and feel that week in week out pressure of playing in the NSL. I’m excited to work with her and see how she grasps this challenge.”

England Futures star Paige Reed has secured her place in Thunder’s 12 for next season. Paige was the third shooter to be announced for Thunder,  joining Lois Pearson and Anya Williams in the shooting circle, creating a talented blend of young, dynamic players.

Speaking about her experience, Reed said:

“I will hopefully bring a bit if flair by trying change up the timings, a bit of ‘no looks’, a bit of ‘fakes’ and I’d say that’s my style and hopefully it all comes together.”

Finally, completing the line up for Thunder is South African shooting star Elemerè van der Berg. With the unfortunate withdrawal from the NSL of Lenize Potgieter due to medical reasons, Thunder will be welcoming Elmerè, another dynamic Proteas shooter who shone on the world stage at the Netball World Cup.

Speaking about her excitement of joining the club, Elmerè said:

“I’m very excited to be able to come over to the UK and play, and there’s loads of opportunities that I can get going there. I heard the club [Thunder] is like a small family and everyone gets along well, so I’m looking forward to being able to experience all of that.”

You can keep up to date with all the 2024 squads and signings here.

To keep up with the latest news, make sure to follow the @NetballSL on Twitter, Instagram and TikTok and subscribe to our newsletter. 

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