With the breaking news of Natalie Haythornthwaite arriving from NSW Swifts still the talk of the town, Thunder have pulled off another massive deal with world class South African netball defender Shadine van der Merwe from Adelaide Thunderbirds signing for the 2022 season.
Born in Pretoria, van der Merwe was part of the South African squad who finished in fifth place at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and fourth place at the 2019 Netball World Cup, losing out to the England Roses 58-42 in the bronze medal match.
At 28 years old, van der Merwe has played all over the world. In South Africa she was with Gauteng Jaguars for 5 years, before coming to the UK to play for Superleague side Surrey Storm in 2018.
In 2019, she made her debut with Australian Suncorp Super Netball side Adelaide Thunderbirds where she continued to thrive at Thunderbirds, with her strong performances being awarded with a place on the 2020 roster, as well as being named in the 2021 squad along with a place on the leadership team.
After 3 years and 36 games, van der Merwe has now decided to depart the club for the 2022 season.
Pitre Bourdon, Thunderbirds High Performance Manager, said:
“Shadine is a wonderful person who is incredibly well-respected at our club by not only her teammates but the staff and fanbase too.
“Shadine will forever be a part of our Thunderbirds family and we wish her all the very best for the future.”
“I’m very excited to be joining Thunder for the up-and-coming season next year. I’m really excited to be putting on the yellow and black dress and see what Thunder have in store.
“It’s a very important journey for me in my netball career, especially going in to the Commonwealth Games next year in Birmingham. Making the decision to come back to the Vitality Netball Superleague was to help myself build up confidence – it’s an amazing platform for any individual netball player to gain a lot of experience, especially for me playing overseas to help myself improve and play against some amazing players.”
“Playing in in Australia has taught me how to play professionally, where in South Africa we still don’t have that full time professional platform. As a player, I know there is always room for improvement, and you grow so much just learning and experiencing coming up against all of the best players in the world. What I’ve learned is that every weekend when you play against any team, it is like an international game, and you have to go in with a strong mentality and make sure that your body is strong and fit too to compete against the best.”
“I’m looking forward to join Manchester Thunder as I’ve heard from so many players that it is a nice family unity, and that is a strong value for me. I can’t wait to work with great coaches too, with Tracey [Neville MBE] as my defensive coach. I’ve usually only ever seen her on the sidelines when I’ve played against England Roses, but I’m looking forward to learning a lot from her on her defensive structure, and I know she will add a lot to my defensive style and skillset.”
Tracey Neville MBE, Thunder’s Performance Operations Director, said:
“I am delighted that Shadine has put pen to paper for Thunder this season. She is an athlete that I have admired over the past few seasons with her performances for both Thunderbirds and South Africa.”
“She is a super smart defender who can effectively offer us both Wing Defence & Goal Defence positions. The style of player that she is I think will be a great fit for how we like to play the game at Thunder. I am looking forward to seeing what she can bring to the squad and working with her.”