After a very long wait the good news for netball fans is that the new Vitality Superleague season will start on Friday.
Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the season will be played behind closed doors at two different venues. Studio 001 in Wakefield and the Copper Box Arena in London.
New season starts on Friday
The opening weekend action starts with Celtic Dragons taking on Leeds Rhinos on Friday at 5.15 pm.
Before Round 1 gets under way, let’s take a look at each club.
The only Welsh side in the VNSL struggled in their 2020 matches prior to the cancellation of the season. Losing their opening three matches wasn’t the start Dragons wanted before the enforced break.
With a young side Dragons are building for the future and have bolstered their squad ahead of the new campaign.
Laura Rudland has signed for the Welsh outfit from Team Bath. Jamaican International Rebekah Robinson has re-committed to the side. Dragons have also snapped up Australian Annika Lee-Jones, having made the move from the Sunshine Coast Lightning in the Suncorp Super Netball League.
New franchise Leeds Rhinos take to the court for 2021
New side Rhinos will be looking to be competitive in their very first season in the Superleague.
Coach Dean Ryan has a blend of experience players and new faces ahead of the new campaign.
The Yorkshire side were dealt a body blow on the eve of the season with superstar Diamond Madi Browne omitted from the squad. Browne turned down the chance to join Rhinos citing a knee injury and Covid-19 restrictions.
Ryan has added Perth shooter Donnell Wallam to the side. The 6ft 2in shooter is a former basketball player and took up the sport of netball late in her sporting career.
Will Pulse be a big player in 2021?
The London outfit were building towards a competitive season when last year’s season came to an abrupt end in round 4.
Last campaign Coach Sam Bird made an astute signing in South African Sigi Burger who made an immediate impact. Fellow South African Goal Attack Lefebre Rademan joins the mix and will be one to watch.
Ashleigh Dekker, Adean Thomas and Michelle Drayne return with the club who have added Isabel Stibbs this season.
With a young side at the disposal of coach Sara Bayman, Lightning have moved to sign some established talent to their ranks for the forthcoming season.
Commonwealth Games gold medallist Beth Cobden is a massive signing that will help the side this season.
Ugandan export Mary Cholhok is back for her third season along with key players captain Natalie Panagarry and Australian import defender Samantha May.
Reigning champions Thunder the side to beat
Technically still the reigning champions, Thunder will have the benefit of England trio Laura Malcolm, Ellie Cardwell and Amy Carter along with Malawian shooter Joyce Mvula.
Certainly the loss of the 2020 season stopped Thunder in their tracks after they had won all four games at the start of their campaign.
Last week Manchester announced that former title winning coach Tracey Neville will be returning as performance operations director.
The second best defensive side in last season’s campaign Mavericks look once again to have a side who will be challenging.
The experienced New Zealander Jo Tripp alongside Razia Quashie and Jodie Gibson will once again be key players for Mavericks.
Led by Captain Sasha Corbin, Saracens should have enough firepower across the court to remain a threat.
Third full season for Stars
Entering their third full season in the Superleague, Severn will be looking towards gradual improvement under coach Melissa Bessell.
Kiwi Liana Leota will add stability alongside Nia Jones plus goal attack duo of Paige Reed and Lucy Herdman for Stars.
The lack of signings for Stars looks to be a worry for the forthcoming campaign ahead.
The only Scottish side in the Superleague continue to build upwards since their inaugural season in 2016.
Coach Lesley MacDonald will be hoping that Malawi international Towera Vinkhumbo can revitalise their defensive play.
Australian youngster Helen Taylor is a new addition to the side from Adelaide Thunderbird and has also played at under 21 level.
The majority of players who represented Sirens have returned for the forthcoming campaign.
A side on paper that could possibly make the end of season play offs.
Zimbabwe captain Kwangwa joins Storm
On paper, Director of Netball Mikki Austin looks to have put together a side that on their day can beat anybody.
Securing the services of Zimbabwe captain Felisitus Kwangwa looks an excellent piece of business. A player that could well shine brightly in the Superleague this season.
The most successful team in the history of the competition, Bath have a very strong roster for this season.
Before last season’s stoppage, bath had a hundred per cent record with a massive goal difference of +45.
Last season’s captain Australian Kim Commane leads a star studded squad which includes four England Roses players.
The outstanding Serena Guthrie co-captained the recent England side that also included fellow team mates Imogen Allison, Layla Guscoth and Sophie Drakeford-Lewis.
Bath will be going for a record sixth championship and have not missed out on a top four position since 2015.
Wasps look to be strong once again
Two times Superleague champions Wasps have introduced some new faces this term. Losing jade Clarke to the new Rhino’s franchise was a huge loss, but Wasps have added Jamaican signing Gezelle Alison to their roster.
After the retirement of Hannah Knights, England Rose Fran Williams will bring vital experience to the side. New additions to Wasps include Ella Powell-Davies and Lily-May Catling who will both be pushing for a starting seven slot.