Annika Lee-Jones is one of the league’s exciting new import players (Copyright – Nelson Kahler Visuals)
A guide to all 11 Vitality Netball Superleague teams ahead of the start of the 2021 season. Every match of the season will be broadcast across Sky Sports and England Netball platforms. Coverage starts on Friday with four successive days of live action.
Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the season is being played behind closed doors across two venues – Studio 001 in Wakefield and the Copper Box Arena in London.With all matches being available to watch across Sky Sports (Sky Sports Arena & Sky Sports Mix), Sky Sports’ YouTube channel or England Netball’s YouTube channel, fans in the UK and Ireland will be able to follow their team from start to finish for the first time. The opening weekend starts with Celtic Dragons taking on Leeds Rhinos Netball on Friday from 4.45pm. Vitality Netball Superleague – Opening Weekend – All matches also streamed on Sky Sports YouTube Channel Friday at 5.15pm Celtic Dragons vs Leeds Rhinos Live on Sky Sports Mix Friday at 7.15pm Strathclyde Sirens vs Manchester Thunder Live on Sky Sports Mix Saturday at 2pm London Pulse vs Surrey Storm Saturday at 4pm Team Bath Netball vs Celtic Dragons Saturday at 6pm Strathclyde Sirens vs Severn Stars Sunday at 2pm Team Bath Netball vs Loughborough Lightning Sunday at 4pm Surrey Storm vs Saracens Mavericks Sunday at 6pm Severn Stars vs Wasps Netball Monday at 5.15pm Loughborough Lightning vs Wasps Netball Live on Sky Sports Mix Monday at 7.15pm Leeds Rhinos Netball vs Saracens Mavericks Live on Sky Sports Mix Celtic DragonsDirector of Netball: Tania HoffmanFirst three fixtures: Leeds Rhinos on February 12; Team Bath Netball on February 13; Strathclyde Sirens on February 21Squad: Sophie Morgan (co-captain), Laura Rudland, Shona O’Dwyer, Clare Jones, Abby Tyrrell, Amy Clinton, Rebecca Baker, Leila Thomas, Lucy Howells, Christina Shaw, Victoria Booth, Morganne Dunn, Rebekah Robinson (co-captain), Annie O’Rourke and Annika Lee-Jones.Player to watch: Keep an eye on Annika Lee-Jones who has arrived from Sunshine Coast Lightning in Australia. Not only is she arriving with Suncorp Super Netball experience, but the 24-year-old, who is 1.94m in height, has the ability to switch between both circles on court. Lee-Jones’ versatility will give Hoffman plenty of options to play with this season. I’ve signed with the Celtic Dragons to challenge myself week in and week out in a new competition against new opposition. Signing with the Dragons also provided an opportunity for me to increase my versatility and to grow as a player through the diversity of players and playing styles within the Superleague Leeds Rhinos Netball 0:41 Dan Ryan believes the newcomers to the Vitality Netball Superleague can inspire Yorkshire’s netballers Dan Ryan believes the newcomers to the Vitality Netball Superleague can inspire Yorkshire’s netballers High performance director and head coach: Dan RyanFirst three fixtures: Celtic Dragons on February 12; Saracens Mavericks on February 15; Surrey Storm on February 21Squad: Jade Clarke, Vicki Oyesola, Brie Grierson, Rosie Harris, Rhea Dixon, Britt Coleman, Sienna Rushton, Amelia Hall, Fi Toner, Paige Kindred, Michelle Magee, Emily Hollingworth, Donnell Wallam and Tuaine Keenan.Player to watch: In Donnell Wallam, Ryan has someone whose growth curve could be the steepest of anyone in the Vitality Netball Superleague this season.The 6ft 2in shooter is a former state basketball player and someone who arrived at netball late in her sporting career. She’s already impressed her new head coach with her determination and ability to put new information into practice quickly. Watch out for her! Donnell’s a competitor and she’s hungry to learn. It’s been really rewarding watching her grow and the exciting part is that this is just the beginning. She’s been here for six weeks and she’s already made enormous improvements London Pulse CEO and Director of Netball: Sam BirdFirst three fixtures: Surrey Storm on February 13; Manchester Thunder on February 21; Strathclyde Sirens on February 28Squad: Halimat Adio, Ashleigh Dekker, Zara Everitt, Lindsay Keable, Ellie Rattu, Isabel Stibbs, Emma Thacker, Monique Thompson, Sigi Burger, Michelle Drayne, Funmi Fadoju, Lefebre Rademan, Kira Rothwell, Olivia Tchine and Adean Thomas.Player to watch: While Pulse have introduced a new international shooter and still have a squad packed full of talented younger players, we’re marking your card with one of their more established players; Lindsay Keable.The defender told Sky Sports that she used first lockdown period last year to raise her standards to a higher level than they’ve ever been before, and her presence will be crucial for the development of those around her. You’ve got to be open to learning new skills at any time, that’s what keeps you fresh and is probably why I have stayed in Superleague for 13 seasons. I fully respect the fact that people come with new ideas, new abilities and you’ve got to be willing to keep up with that and put the hard work in to do so. Loughborough LightningDirector of netball: Sara BaymanFirst three fixtures: Team Bath Netball on February 14; Wasps Netball on February 15; Saracens Mavericks on February 21Squad: Beth Cobden, Sam May, Annabel Roddy, Beth Gabriel, Lucy Parize, Ella Clark, Mary Cholhok, Hannah Williams, Alice Harvey, Jas Odeogberin, Suzie Liverseidge, Nat Panagarry, Lauren Nicholls and Hannah Joseph.Player to watch: Look no further than Beth Cobden who has shown so much strength and resilience to come back from back-to-back ACL injuries on the same knee.Cobden will be integral to their mid-court, plus during the Vitality Legends Series, both Sam May and Nat Panagarry showed that they’re hitting the season in form and firing. Cobden talks ACLs, psychology and returning to court Beth Cobden opens up about the marks that three ACL injuries bring, and the work she’s done both physically and mentally to get back playing. Manchester ThunderDirector of netball: Karen GreigFirst three fixtures: Strathclyde Sirens on February 12; London Pulse on February 21; Severn Stars on February 28Squad: Berri Neil, Lois Pearson, Caroline O’Hanlon, Emma Dovey, Rebekah Airey, Eleanor Cardwell, Laura Malcolm, Amy Carter, Joyce Mvula, Loreen Ngwira. Training Partners: Alicia Scholes, Ella Standring, Emilia Roscoe, Millie Sanders and Elia McCormick.Player to watch: The continued development of Eleanor Cardwell will be one for England Vitality Roses fans to keep a close eye on, after she’s been developing match-by-match with the national side. VNSL 2021: Fixtures, venues and rules The 2021 Vitality Netball Superleague season starts on February 12, live on Sky Sports, and there are a few new elements to know about. Saracens Mavericks Razia Quashie will look to carry her excellent form into the domestic season (Credit – Ben Lumley ) Director of netball and head coach: Kat RatnapalaFirst three fixtures: Surrey Storm on February 14; Leeds Rhinos on February 15; Loughborough Lightning on February 21Squad: Kadeen Corbin, Jodie Gibson, Gabby Marshall, Razia Quashie, Bella Baylis, Britney Pringle-Clarke, Aliyah Zaranyika, Sasha Corbin, Steph Collard, Beth Ecuyer-Dale, Chloe Essam, Georgia Lees, Dani McFarlane, Jo Trip and Ine-Mari Venter.Player to watch: The South African international shooter, Ine-Mari Venter, has arrived in England with a fierce determination to make a name for herself. Venter has the task of filling the large shoes left by George Fisher and her partnership with Kadeen Corbin could be electric. My aim now, coming from the Australian league, is to have the break that I need to put my stamp on the international stage. I’m not everybody’s starting player yet, because I hadn’t had a lot of court time. However, going into Vitality Netball Superleague, I want to set myself up as one of the world-class shooters and make a name for myself. Severn Stars Nia Jones will again have an integral leadership role at Severn Stars Head coach: Melissa BessellFirst three fixtures: Strathclyde Sirens on February 13; Wasps Netball on February 14; Manchester Thunder on February 28Squad: Liana Leota (captain), Nia Jones (vice-captain), Georgia Rowe, Bethan Dyke, Paige Reed, Lucy Harris, Jane Taylor, Lucy Herdman, Malysha Kelly and Adi Bolakoro. Training Partners: Ellie Gibbons, Iman Thomas, Hannah Howl, Chloe Carchrie and Issy Eaton.Player to watch: Severn Stars’ captain already reminded us of her brilliance during the Vitality Legends Series, so watch out for their new Jamaica international, Malysha Kelly, too. Head coach Bessell is confident that Kelly is going to add greatly to their output during the season. Save over 25% with NOW TV Grab a NOW TV Sky Sports Month Pass for just £25 p/m for 4 months (usually £33.99 p/m) Strathclyde SirensHead coach: Lesley MacDonaldFirst three fixtures: Manchester Thunder on February 12; Severn Stars on February 13; Celtic Dragons on February 21Squad: Gia Abernethy, Lynsey Gallagher, Emily Nicholl, Taylor Cullen, Niamh McCall, Nicola McCleery, Emma Barrie, Bethan Goodwin, Sarah MacPhail, Caitlin Pringle, Emma Love, Beth Dix, Towera Vinkhumbo and Helen Taylor.Player to watch: In any team, high quality leadership is vital, and Gia Abernethy provides that in spades for Strathclyde Sirens. She’s an extremely safe pair of hands in mid-court and will always set the tone for her team to follow. Sirens is an exciting, forward-thinking franchise. They’ve not always had the results on the court but everything that’s happening off the court is all geared towards those results changing. Surrey StormDirector of netball: Mikki AustinFirst three fixtures: London Pulse on February 13; Saracens Mavericks on February 14; Leeds Rhinos on February 21Squad: Mikki Austin, Yasmin Parsons, Emily Gulvin, Niamh Cooper, Alima Priest, Leah Middleton, Karyn Bailey, Nicole Humphreys, Grace Sullivan, Sophie Kelly, Ellie Kelk, Ashleigh Jay, Frankie Wells, Emma Magee and Felisitus Kwangwa.Player to watch: Securing the services of the Zimbabwe Gems’ captain Felisitus Kwangwa is an excellent piece of business from Austin. Kwangwa was an integral part of Zimbabwe’s first Netball World Cup campaign in 2019 and has all the attributes to shine in the Superleague this season. Team Bath Netball Layla Guscoth’s return to Team Bath Netball is a great one for the outfit and the league (Image Credit: Clare Green for Matchtight) Head coach: Anna StembridgeFirst three fixtures: Celtic Dragons on February 13; Loughborough Lightning on February 14; Wasps Netball on February 22Squad: Serena Guthrie, Layla Guscoth, Rachel Shaw, Tash Pavelin, Abi Robson, Betsy Creak, Imogen Allison, Sophie Drakeford-Lewis, Eboni Usoro-Brown, Summer Artman, Chartie Curtis, Hanna Passmore, Kirsty Harris, Jess Shaw, Kim Borger.Player to watch: Of course, the return of two outstanding internationals in the form of Serena Guthrie and Layla Guscoth, will be incredible for the team. However, look out for Sophie Drakeford-Lewis’ continued development.In recent international series, Drakeford-Lewis has really started to establish herself and will want to continue doing that on the domestic stage. I’m really excited to be back. In the couple of years I was here before, it was such a strong family environment and I really loved it. I really felt like I thrived there. I’ve known Anna Stembridge as a coach since I was about 15 or 16. She’s someone who knows me really well, as a player and as a person. I find that a great environment to be a part of. Wasps NetballHead coach: Mel MansfieldFirst three fixtures: Severn Stars on February 14; Loughborough Lightning on February 15; Team Bath Netball on February 22Squad: Sophia Candappa (captain), Katie Harris, Josie Huckle, Amy Flanagan (vice-captain), Fran Williams (vice-captain), Ella Powell-Davies, Iona Christian, Lily-May Catling, Gezelle Allison and Rachel Dunn. Training Partners: Hannah Leighton, Ally Housley, Leah Goss, Megan Thorne, Ruth Hughes. Player to watch: The introduction of Gezelle Allison should provide a real spark and added zip to their work in attack. Needless to say, the whole of the netballing world will be eager to see how her partnership with Rachel Dunn develops. Her vision, dedication and caring nature always made her a first choice this season. Sophia is a natural leader, a player’s voice and always has the best interests of the squad at heart. Sophia is looking fantastic in training. Sky Sports is your home of netball. The Vitality Netball Superleague returns on Friday at 4.45pm on Sky Sports Mix, with a 10-match weekend. Every contest will be available to watch across Sky Sports, the Sky Sports YouTube channel or England Netball’s YouTube channel.