The Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) starts in the UK this weekend, with the leagues ‘Season Opener’ taking place on the 5th and 6th February at Birmingham’s Resorts World Arena. All 11 teams will be taking to court across the two days.
The rest of the season will then be played out in 20 rounds before the Grand Final on Sunday 5th June, after which the players focus will turn to Birmingham 2022 which will begin on the 28th July 2022.
To see which Commonwealth Games Associations have already qualified for B2022, click here.
Here are just a few of the international players you should look out for across all the Superleague teams this season:
South African shooter, Lefebre Rademan, has swapped London Pulse for Celtic Dragons for her second year in the VNSL. Last season the shooter scored 147 times in her 18 appearances for Pulse, and will be hoping to do more of the same this season. Rademan has made more than 10 appearances for the SPAR Proteas, and impressed in 2019 when playing against the England Roses. She is one to look out for this year ahead of the Cape Town 2023 Netball World Cup in her home country! Joining Rademan in the shooting circle could be Wales Goal Shooter, Georgia Rowe. Rowe most recently played in the Wales Netball Quad Series, where Wales went unbeaten winning their home Series.
At Leeds Rhino’s look out for England player, Jade Clarke in the centre third. Jade most recently played in the Roses Quad Series at the Copper Box, where they reached the Final after beating New Zealand and South Africa and drawing with Australia. Clarke has made over 170 appearances for the Roses and will be hoping to be involved in the Commonwealth Games this year as they fight to retain their title. South Africa’s Sigi Burger has also represented her country, South Africa, at the Quad Series and will be in the circle for Rhino’s this season after leaving London Pulse behind.
London Pulse have signed two young Australian players this year. 22-year-old Sacha McDonald may be seen in the shooting cirlcle or outside as wing attack, whilst 24-year-old Tayla Honey is also a wing attack. Neither player has played for the Australian Diamonds, but at such young ages they could be ones to look out for in the future.
Loughborough Lightning won last year’s Superleague, after they beat Team Bath in the Grand Final. Ugandan shooter, Mary Cholhock, will be spending another season with Lightning this season, after making 22 appearances and scoring 849 of her 956 shots (88.8%) in 2021. Cholhock was part of the Ugandan team that finished 7th in the last World Cup in Liverpool. England Roses players Beth Cobden and Nat Panagarry will be joined by fellow international teammate, Fran Williams, as she has left Wasps after five years. South Africa’s, Zanele Vimbela has also joined the Champions for their defending season.
Malawi Queen, Joyce Mvula, is one to watch at Manchester Thunder this season. Mvula has been a crucial player at Thunder since she signed in 2017, and even won Sky Sports Fans’ Player of the Season in 2019. Also look out for England’s attacking trio, Eleanor Cardwell, Nat Metcalf and Laura Malcolm. Malcolm, who was part of the England Quad Series team, has been named as captain of the Thunder team this season.
Jameela McCarthy, from Trinidad and Tobago, and Ine-Mari Venter from South Africa will be taking to court for the Saracens Mavericks in 2022. McCarthy could be seen at either end of the court with experience in both the defensive and attacking circles, and has represented her country in both netball and basketball. SPAR Proteas shooter, Ine-Mari Venter, has had a busy few months in international netball having been part of the South Africa squad that won the Africa Netball Cup and then competed in the England Netball Quad Series, but is now back for her second season with Mavericks.
Severn Stars aren’t short of mid-court stars this year with Northern Ireland international, Michelle Drayne, joining from London Pulse, Wales’ Bethan Dyke returning from a knee injury, and former New Zealand international and England Roses technical coach, Liana Leota, returning for her third season. In defence, Dee Bolakoro, will begin her second year with the team.
It comes as no surprise that the Scottish based side, Strathclyde Sirens, have lots of Scottish international players within their squad. World Netball Voice of the Athlete Working Group Member and Scotland Vice Captain, Emily Nicholl, will begin her 6th season at Sirens alongside her Thistles captain Claire Maxwell, and teammates Rachel Conway and Emma Barrie. Another international player within the Sirens squad is Malawi Queen Towera Vinkhumbo, who will be staying with the side for her second season. Last season Vinkhumbo was one of the stand-out defenders in the league helping the Scottish side finish sixth, their highest ever finish.
Surrey Storm’s biggest signing for 2022 is the Ugandan captain, Peace Proscovia. It is the shooters first season back in the Superleague since 2017 when she was a key part of the Loughborough Lightning set up, and many are excited to see her in action again. Another natural leader within the Surrey Storm side this season is Zimbabwe national team captain, Felistus Kwangwa, who will be starting her second Superleague season with the side. Northern Ireland duo, Niamh Cooper and Emma Magee, will also remain in Mikki Austin’s squad this season.
Team Bath has at least one England Rose in each third this season. In the attacking end you will find shooter Sophie Drakeford-Lewis, followed by the Roses Captain Serena Guthrie and Imogen Allison in the centre third, and defender Layla Guscoth in the defensive end. The Roses quad will also be joined by South Africa SPAR Proteas player, Phumza Maweni, this season after she left behind the Australian Suncorp Super league for a year in England. Maweni was named ‘defender of the tournament’ when South Africa won the Africa Netball Cup in 2021. Team Bath fell to the hands of Loughborough Lightning in last years final and will be hoping to go one step further this time round.
Last, but by no means least, when watching Wasps make sure you keep an eye out for Jamaican Sunshine Girl, Gazelle Allison, who was part of the Jamaican side at the Roses Reunited Series at the end of 2021. Allison scored 99 goals in her debut season in the Superleague in 2021, whilst working alongside previous England International Rachel Dunn. Wales defensive duo Christina Shaw and Ella Powell-Davies will also return to the Wasps side this season, having just been part of the Wales side that won the Wales Netball Quad Series unbeaten.
What a season we have to look forward to!
To view the fixtures for the VNSL, click here.
Sky Sports has announced that within the UK you will be able to watch the Season Opener live on Sky Sports and on Sky Sports YouTube, and throughout the rest of the season they will be streaming three games a week with a dedicated ‘Monday Night Netball’ slot meaning that between 5pm GMT and 7pm GMT throughout the regular season you will be able to watch a VNSL match – the centre pass will take place at 5:30pm GMT every Monday.
To find out more about leagues taking place in other WN Regions this season, visit our Domestic League page here.