Neville, 30, is one of England Netball’s most famous faces, and amassed 74 international caps, before a serious knee injury forced her to leave the game in December 2004. After an intensive period of rehabilitation, she is now fully fit and joins her former international and club colleague Karen Greig, who has also recovered from a knee injury, in a much changed Leeds line up for the new season. Coached by England U21 squad coach Anna Newell, herself a former international, the Leeds team also includes Jamaica U21 star Afrika Morris, who is the first Jamaican player to join the Netball Superleague.
Picture Tracey Neville relaxing (please credit SW Pix).
Reigning champions TeamBath will be without the league’s most prolific shooter of 2005-6, Rachel Dunn, after she suffered a serious knee injury in England’s recent tour of Jamaica. However, in her place, the champions have named rising England star Joanne Harten in their squad, who moves from Mavericks after accepting a place at Bristol University on completion of her A level studies.
As it enters its third season, the calibre of competition in the Netball Superleague is acknowledged by the number of overseas stars now keen to take part. Towering Fijian shooter Alanieta Mailulu will return to the TeamNorthumbria line up after the World Championships in November, where she will line up alongside Melbourne Kestrels’ Elissa McLeod and Southern Sting’s Megan Hutton, who recently helped her side to the final title in New Zealand’s National Bank Cup (the equivalent competition to the Superleague). Meanwhile, Lara Welham (a member of the Hunter Jaegers team in Australia’s equivalent, the Commonwealth Bank Trophy) joins Brunel Hurricanes in place of another Australian Bridget Tait.
With England, Scotland and Wales taking part in the Netball World Championships (from 10-17 November 2007), several key names will be unavailable to take part in the early stages of the competition, which opens the door for some of England’s emerging stars to make their mark. England U21 squad members Sarah Jane O’Sullivan and Katy Rose join the Loughborough Lightning line up for the first time, with their international counterparts Serena Guthrie and Sam Perry hoping for more court time in the TeamBath line up while the champions’ six international stars are away on international duty. Mavericks, without inspirational defender Janet Coulburne (who has been forced to withdraw due to work commitments) will be looking to England U21 star Abi Ryan to fill her shoes.
The Netball Superleague starts on 27 October 2007, with the Grand Final to take place on 05 April 2008. The competition, England’s premier netball competition, aims to provide top level matches for current and emerging internationals on a weekly basis, and is televised by Sky Sports. For further information, please visit www.englandnetball.co.uk, where full squad lists will be available shortly.