New signings Natalie Haythornthwaite, Malysha Kelly and Liana Leota join a 15-player Thunder squad that is a mix of youth and experience. Young shooter Amy Clinton’s good form in the Next Generation and Mike Greenwood Trophy pre-season tournaments has been rewarded with a call-up to the Superleague team. Beccy Hoult is also making the step up from the NPL squad. She joins a number of senior players with international experience, including Jamaican defender Kelly, Silver Fern Leota and several England-capped players. Roses centre-courter Sara Bayman will once again captain the Black and Yellows.
Ryan, who will lead Thunder in his debut Superleague season, says he is ‘really happy’ with his final squad and that it is ‘placed exactly where we want to be’ with just under two months to go before the season opener. He said: “I believe we have everything we need to be really successful in 2016. We have great experience across the squad, strength and depth in all areas of the court and a lot of flexibility and variety as well. The squad is an exciting mix of senior internationals, established NSL players, emerging youngsters and some fresh local talent.”
The Australian is confident 18-year-old Clinton will flourish in the country’s top netball league and is keen to develop local talent. “Amy’s developed out of sight over the past few months and I truly believe she’s going to be someone to watch out for in the coming years,” he said of the Oldham-born shooter.
The Melbourne-born coach picked Bayman as captain due to his ‘enormous faith’ in the World Cup bronze medal winner. He added: “Sara is well respected by the playing group, the coaching staff and the franchise in general. She’s a real barometer for us and is an athlete that leads from that front, steps up on the big occasions and that’s exactly what you want and need in your captain.”
Ryan has developed a strong working relationship with Bayman, and the 30-year-old star is honoured to lead the Black and Yellows in 2016. She said: “We’ve got a really exciting squad this year and it’s a real privilege to be chosen to lead them. Dan knows exactly what he wants from us and his standards are high. It means that everyone is having to raise the bar and push themselves. That goes for me too, I’m trying to be the best captain I can and draw from the experience of players like Liana to mould this team into a winning one. Thunder have now established themselves as a top team within Superleague and regardless of the signings other teams have made we expect to be in contention at the end of the season.”
Shooters: Amy Clinton, Kathryn Turner, Helen Housby, Ellie Cardwell and Natalie Haythornthwaite
Mid-court: Sara Bayman, Gabby Marshall, Laura Malcolm, Liana Leota and Beccy Hoult
Defenders: Kerry Almond, Emma Dovey, Malysha Kelly, Jodie Gibson and Paige Kindred