The pair, who are both experienced international players, will join director of netball Karen Greig. A defensive expert, Hale recently returned from working on the England Netball coaching team under Tracey Neville during the Quad Series in Australia and New Zealand. The former Wales defender switched from Black and Yellows player to coach ahead of the 2015 season New Zealand veteran Leota joined Thunder as a player for the 2016 season, making an instant impact on her debut on Super Saturday, winning the Player of the Match Award.
Hale offers a specialist defensive coaching option to Greig, who herself is a more natural attacking coach. “Sara had been a key part of the Thunder coaching team for the past two years, she is a passionate hardworking coach who has a bank of defensive knowledge , having transitioned from a Welsh international into her coaching career,” said Greig. “She has more than proven herself with the work she has undertaken with Thunder and more recently defensive technical coach with the England team during the recent Quad series , she is a great sounding board and will prove great support for myself in my new role.”
Leota’s addition to the coaching set-up is an exciting one, with the former Commonwealth Games champion able to offer support to Greig in the centre court and attacking areas of the court. Former England and Thunder shooter Greig added: “I am super excited to work with Liana next season , the former Silver Fern fitted seamlessly into the Thunder set up last year and straight away gained the respect of players and us coaches around her. Her depth of understanding of the game and ability to exploit defences will be something I am sure she will be looking to develop.”
Report by Denise Evans