Manchester Thunder, the reigning Vitality Netball Superleague champions, return to the court for the start of the 2019-20 season tomorrow (Saturday 12 October) at the season’s opening competition, the British Fast-5 All Stars Championships.
And, while the champions have not traditionally done well in this, the shortened form of the game, head coach Karen Greig is excited for the challenge ahead:
“As a squad, we’re really looking forward to the Fast-5 competition: we’ve had a solid three weeks of training, and while last night’s session was the first with all our players, including our overseas All Stars, things really came together well. I’m excited for what we’ll be putting out on court tomorrow.”
Fast-5 is a shortened version of traditional netball, featuring teams of five players (instead of seven), with 12 minute games, rolling substitutions, powerplays and increased scoring opportunities via a bigger shooting zone. Greig is feeling confident about the Thunder side’s prospects:
“Our preparations have been good, and our overseas All Stars – Aussie sharpshooter Erin Bell and Malawian pocket rocket midcourter Takonda Lawazi – have fitted into the line up seamlessly. They will certainly bring the X Factor to our performance tomorrow, and we can’t wait to get going.”
Tomorrow’s competition will provide fans with the first opportunity for Thunder fans to see another Malawian, Loreen Ngwira, in Manchester colours, after the international signed for the north west side from London Pulse in the summer. Another familiar face will also suit up for the champions, with former training partner Taylor Cullen in the Thunder line up, before transferring to Strathclyde Sirens for the 2020 Superleague season.
“I’m really excited to see what this squad can do,” concludes Greig. “We’ve got a great balance of experience and flair, with international knowledge and emerging talent in abundance, all topped off with Erin Bell’s proven ability to sink the long bombs from all over the circle. It’s going to be fun!”