Severn Stars team has potential 'to go all the way' in Superleague, says Coach


Sam Bird, who took over the role last summer, said changes in the off-season had strengthened the side and that the players had come together over the months of pre-season training.

The team, a joint franchise between the University of Worcester and University of Gloucestershire, kicks off its season in netball's top-flight, the Vitality Netball Superleague, against Manchester Thunder at the University of Worcester Arena on Saturday, 10 February.

Bird, who represented England at all levels from Under 16 to senior level and, as a coach, helped Superleague team Hertfordshire Mavericks to two titles, said Stars had secured a strong group of players and that signings had been "deliberate and considered".

"What I'm most excited about is this club, the potential within it and the positive future ahead," she said. "I'm absolutely convinced that the team we have around us has the potential to go all the way."

"We retained the best of our players from last year. This was based on not only their fine performances for the club last year, but also because of their potential development they have to come, and what they will achieve with Severn Stars.

"New players have been recruited to fit with the Club's style and with the existing core players; to compliment them, to challenge them and to bond with them.

"As a result, there is not one player in the squad who can relax and think they have no competition for their position; competition is there for everyone."

England netballers Jodie Gibson and Ellie Cardwell, who competed in the Quad Series last month, return for a second season.

Jodie is among three University of Worcester students in the side, alongside Becky Oatley and England Under 21 player Iona Darroch.

Laura Malcolm returns to captain the side along with mid-courter Sophie Carter.

New members of the squad include international signings Maryka Holtzhausen and Phumza Maweni, who competed for South Africa in the Quad Series last month.

Further additions include University of Gloucestershire students Ella Powell Davies and Shona O'Dwyer.

Bird said that the unity among the squad she had witnessed develop in training was also a key component to success.

"This is a team of players who like to collaborate," she added. "I have seen already strong bonds developing between players, some of whom were strangers four months ago. This ability to work together for the benefit of the Club makes me sure that we recruited well.

"Stars is striving to be the best place for players to grow together, whether they be an international star, an England player, an ex-England player, a future England player."

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