Severn Stars captain Laura Malcolm is hoping the club can build on their solid debut season when the 2018 Vitality Netball Superleague returns.
The team, a joint franchise between the University of Worcester and the University of Gloucestershire, won five matches in 2017 and finished the campaign in eighth.
Stars have high aspirations and believe the appointment of Sam Bird as well as keeping their core unit together and strengthening with several additions, including Maryka Holtzhausen, Phumza Maweni and Samantha Cook, will help them reap the rewards.
She said: “Last season was our first season together and we really did have a mixture of different players from different teams.
“Having a core group that stayed this year will really help us build on that consistency and hopefully build on our structures for the future.
“There are a few new additions to the team but it’s gelled really nicely and there’s a really good vibe in this group so that’s always a win when you really enjoy spending time with each other.”
After building from scratch and finding their feet last season, Stars are aiming to push themselves even further and establish themselves as real contenders.
The aim for every team is to reach the Final Four but Malcolm admits that it’ll be a challenge, they need to take everything one step at a time and that she, as captain, needs to make sure she’s leading by example.
She said: “For the team it’s having that consistency and really pushing ourselves to better the performance from last year.
“We’re obviously looking to compete with any team that we come across and everybody wants to end up in that top four.
“It’s a bit of a mix-up for the top four, everyone is competing for a spot so we’ll have to wait and see!
“You’ve got to set yourself baby steps and focus game on game.
“A successful season for Laura Malcolm personally would to be fit and competing week in, week out and making sure that I’m leading the team from the front with performances.”
With the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games taking place from the 5th-15th April, the Superleague will take a break after Round 7 concludes on the 18th March.
It remains to be seen what impact this will have – whether it’ll be welcome respite for teams to reflect and regroup or whether it’ll provide a hindrance to those teams rising up the table.
However, Malcolm believes having the major international competition on the horizon is benefiting the Superleague sides.
She said: “The real benefit (of CWG break) is that any internationals are really pushing for something massive this year so they are training for that and motivation is higher than ever.
“That’s really great for us training around them and also great for them. I think the level of the league in general this year will be higher than ever.”
Taking things one step at a time, Stars have been concentrating in pre-season on making sure their combinations are fine-tuned and game plans are ready before looking at their rivals.
Malcolm said: “To be honest, we haven’t really looked that much at the competition, it’s all about focusing on ourselves at the minute.
“Our first game is against Manchester Thunder, so at the moment that’s our biggest competition, that’s the first team we focus on.”
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