Thunder sign young England player Natalie Haythornthwaite
The 22-year-old will make the switch across the Pennines from Roses rivals Yorkshire Jets for the 2016 season.
Haythornthwaite, who was voted the 2015 Superleague Player of The Season, is the first signing for new Black and Yellows coach Dan Ryan. Ryan comes to England from Australian ANZ outfit Adelaide Thunderbirds, where he was assistant coach.
Haythornthwaite has revealed it was Ryan’s experience coaching in the Trans-Tasman league that helped her decide to join Thunder. The versatile Burnley-born star, who can play at wing attack or goal attack, said: “I think the main thing was to work under a coach with ANZ experience. It’s the place every netballer strives to be, so to get as close to that world as I can, while still so close to home seemed too good of an opportunity to pass up. I want to keep developing as a player and challenge myself. That’s always the main thing for me because I really do believe that if you leave every session as a better player and a better team, than when you walked in a few hours earlier, the results and accolades will take care of themselves.”
On leaving Jets, a team she vice- captained last season and helped to make the Superleague play-offs for the first time, Haythornthwaite only had positive things to say about her former side. “Leaving Jets was a very difficult decision, having spent the last six years there for NSL and seeing the franchise develop and succeed has been an experience I will never forget. That being said I wish Jets all the best for the 2016 season & hope to maintain my off court relationships with all the great people there,”.
With the signing of Haythornthwiate, Ryan has put down an early marker of intent for the other teams in Superlegaue, as Thunder aim to reclaim the title they lost to Surrey Storm last season. The 31-year-old said of his new signing: “I’m really excited to have Nat join Thunder for the 2016 Netball Superleague, it’s a great signing for the franchise and we are so thrilled to have her on board. Nat will provide us with great depth and flexibly in our attacking end and she fits my vision for the team really nicely. She’s a unique player because she can comfortably play in the mid court and shooting circle, which makes her an incredibly valuable asset for us. She is a proven performer at this level and she’s such an exciting prospect for England Netball as well. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to work with a her and help take her game to the next level.’’