Vitality Netball Superleague: everything you need to know about new season opener
The Vitality Netball Superleague is back with the new season opener getting underway at the Birmingham Arena on Saturday.
The one-day event is a near-sell out which will involve all ten teams battling it out in a match each.
And for Manchester Thunder, they will begin their league hunt for back-to-back titles.
Last season's finish: First
Key signings: Lauren Ngwira, Ash Neal and Joyce Mvula
Manchester Thunder will be heading into the Superleague with one goal only, and that is to create history and go back-to-back with title wins. They have remained in the top end of the league since 2014 after they first won the title. They finished runners-up in 2016 and were placed third in both 2017 and 2018. The side have lost goalkeeper Kerry Almond after more than ten seasons with the club when she announced her retirement at the end of last season. But new signing Lauren Ngwira will push to take Almond's place in defence.
Squad: Rebekah Airey, Eleanor Cardwell, Amy Carter, Emma Dovey (Captain) Laura Malcolm (Co vice-captain), Joyce Mvula, Ashleigh Neal, Lauren Ngwira, Caroline O'Hanlon and Kathryn Turner (Co vice-captain).
Last season's finish: Second
Key signings: Iona Christian and Alexia Baker
The Midlands-based side will certainly be Thunder's main rivals in the league this season. They have lost South Africa captain Bongi Msomi but have gained Sophia Candappa who has returned from maternity leave. The runners-up also have England's most-capped player Jade Clarke. Wasps have also achieved something Thunder haven't, when they won back-to-back titles in 2017 and 2018.
Squad: Hannah Knights (Captain), Josie Huckle, Fran Williams, Ally Housley, Hannah Leighton, Iona Christian, Jade Clarke (Vice-captain), Amy Flanagan, Sophia Candappa, Beth Dix, Rachel Dunn, Katie Harris, Alexia Baker, Tamsin Moala and Sienna Rushton.
Last season's finish: Third
Key signings: Khanyisa Chawane and new head coach Jo Vann
Team Bath have retained a large portion of their players for the 2020 season. Under new head coach Jo Vann's influence the side have their sights fixed on the play-offs. Roses star Serena Guthrie is not in action this season which means centre court player Khanyisa Chawane will step up. She played a key part in South Africa's World Cup and Nations Cup campaign within the last year.
Squad: Eboni Usoro-Brown, Rachel Shaw, Mia Ritchie, Imogen Allison, Abi Robson, Fionnuala Toner, Kim Commane, Khanyisa Chawane, Sophie Drakeford-Lewis, Hannah Passmore, Summer Artman, Laura Rudland, Betsy Creak, Tash Pavelin and Rachel Fee.
Last season's finish: Fourth
Key signings: Sam May
The side will be led by last season's head coach Sara Bayman who missed out on a finalist spot. Lightning are always a team to keep an eye out for as they reached the Grand Finals of the league in both 2017 and 2018.
Squad: Squad: Ella Clark, Sam May, Hannah Joseph, Nat Panagarry, Lucy Parize, Annabel Roddy, Jasmin Odeogberin, Suzie Liverseidge, Alice Harvey, Beth Gabriel, Lauren Nicholls, Jess Shaw, Vicki Oyesola and Mary Cholhok.
Last season's finish: Fifth
Key signings: Jodie Gibson and Chloe Essam
Director of the squad Kat Ratnapala managed to retain a large portion of her players ahead of the season and has welcomed England international Jodie Gibson and youth international Chloe Essam. The side will be looking for a top four finish with the likes of Roses players Sasha Corbin and George Fisher in the attacking line-up.
Squad: Sasha Corbin (Captain), Kadeen Corbin, Jo Trip, Georgia Lees, Beth Ecuyer-Dale, Gabby Marshall, George Fisher, Razia Quashie, Chloe Essam, Jodie Gibson, Paige McCalla and Stephanie Collard.
Last season's finish: Sixth
Key signings: Liana Leota and Ama Agbeze
Severn Stars have made the most changes to their Superleague team as they look to make the Grand Final during the 2020 season. The team will be entering their second season as part of the league. The franchise secured New Zealand's Liana Leota who will bring heaps of experience to her new side and has also been appointed as captain.
Squad: Liana Leota (Captain), Nia Jones (Vice-captain), Bethan Dyke, Georgia Rowe, Paige Reed, Lucy Harris, Ella Powell-Davies, Lucy Herdman, Ama Agbeze, Towera Vinkhumbo, Hannah Howl, Chloe Carchrie, Jane Taylor, Ellie Gibbons and Chloe Cubello.
Last season's finish: Seventh
Key signings: Amy Clinton and Latanya Wilson
The only Welsh side in the league will be looking to make more of an impact than last season with several signings eager to make the difference in the squad. The side struggled to make their mark in the league over several years as they finished below the top five until 2013. They started to edge their way up the table with shooter Lottisha Cato who led them to the Grand Final in 2013 against Team Bath.
Squad: Dee Bolakoro, Abby Tyrrell, Paige Kindred, Amy Clinton, Sophie Morgan, Rebekah Robinson, Latanya Wilson, Shona O'Dwyer, Rhian Evans, Brittany Coleman, Eleri Michael, Laura Burton, Lucy Howells and Annie O'Rourke.
Last season's finish: Eighth
Key signings: Karyn Bailey and Sophie Hankin
The departures of South Africa's Sigi Burger and compatriot Shadine van der Merwe could be seen as an advantage to other teams. However with new signing Karyn Bailey, Storm will be heading into the league with confidence as they will be wanting to reach the play-offs.
Squad: Mikki Austin, Yasmin Parsons, Katy Hughes (Captain), Niamh Cooper, Yasmin Hodge-England, Emily Gulvin, Sophie Hankin, Alima Priest, Lorraine Kowalewska, Karyn Bailey, Leah Goss, Nicole Humphrys, Ellie Kelk, Charlotte Curtis and Leah Middleton.
Last season's finish: Ninth
Key signings: Emma Barrie and new head coach Tamsin Greenway
Scotland's only side in the Superleague will continue to try and break their way into the league after they only won three games in 2019. Greenway will be looking to change this after they have failed to find consistency since their debut in 2016.
Squad: Claire Maxwell, Nicola McCleery, Niamh McCall, Taylor Cullen, Gia Abernethy (Captain), Emma Barrie, Lynsey Gallagher, Lauren Tait, Bethan Goodwin, Kelly Boyle, Zanele Vimbela, Emily Nicholl, Natalie Bright, Cerys Cairns and Sarah MacPhail.
Last season's finish: Tenth
Key signings: Sigi Burger and new head coach Samantha Bird
Having finished in last place at the end of their debut season, new coach Sam Bird from Severn Stars will want all that to change. New signing Sigi Burger will use her sharp shooting skills to help the side climb the table, alongside Chiara Semple.
Squad: Adean Thomas, Chiara Semple, Halimat Adio, Kate Lloyd, Kira Rothwell, Lindsay Keable, Michelle Drayne, Olivia Tchine, Sigi Burger, Zara Everitt, Ashleigh Dekker, Funmi Fadoju, Monique Thompson, Ellie Rattu and Emma Thacker.
The Season Opener will see Strathclyde Sirens take on London Pulse in the first fixture of the day, followed by Celtic Dragons v Surrey Storm, Saracens Mavericks v Severn Stars and Team Bath v Loughborough Lightning and lastly Wasps v Thunder.