Severn Stars unveil New Zealand's Liana Leota for new netball season
Severn Stars have announced New Zealand star Liana Leota as their first signing for the 2020 season.
She moved from New Zealand to the UK in 2011 and has played the last four seasons with Manchester Thunder. Leota was part of the Silver Ferns squad when they won gold at the 2010 and silver at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
As well as the move in her netball career, she has also been appointed a coaching role in the Stars set up.
The 34 year-old said: “I hope to bring all of my experience, my skillset and creativity. I have been playing netball for a very long time. I have had some amazing coaches, played with some of the best netballers in the world and played in a lot of high-pressure matches.
“My individual benchmark for my own team goals every year is to make the top four and then anything after that is a bonus.”
One of the reasons Leota was attracted to the club is because Melissa Bessell used to coach her.
“I had Melissa as a coach for a couple of years in the New Zealand Maori team. I loved how she says everything as it is, doesn’t beat around the bush, her work ethic, but also the work ethic she demands of her players, and her passion for the game.”
The wing attack and centre was impressed with Stars’ defence last season.
Head coach Melissa Bessell added: “This has to be one of the best signings in the Vitality Netball Superleague. Liana is not only a world-class athlete, but an amazing leader with an enormous amount of experience and one of the most down to earth, beautiful people in the game today.”
Also returning to the Superleague is Niamh McCall who has re-signed for Scotland’s only professional netball team; the Strathclyde Sirens.
McCall is one of the youngest in the league at 19-years-old and will be returning for her second season in the Vitality Superleague.
The youngster has already made great steps in her career as she was part of the Under-21 World Youth Cup. She has also represented Scotland at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and at the recent summer's World Cup.
McCall said: “I’m super excited to get back out on court for Strathclyde Sirens, and I’m looking forward to upping my game to the next level in the new season. I know we can all improve on our performances from last year and I’m excited to show everyone what our team is really capable of!
“Being a Siren is a reminder of my hard work and dedication to the sport, and I hope I can inspire others to also be the best they can be.”
Severn Stars will take on Saracens Mavericks and Sirens will play London Pulse in the opening fixture of the Superleague in February 2020.