2021 VNSL players to watch: Imports – Part 1

THE 2021 Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) is edging ever closer, and while the competition does not yet have an official start date for the season given ongoing COVID-19 limitations, all 11 franchises are gearing up for a big year of netball after such a disrupted 2020.

With so much talent at each team’s disposal, Draft Central has compiled a list of the top imported talent taking the court in the Superleague in 2021. While some teams boast more international players than others, there is no doubt the calibre of talent – both emerging and experienced – is spread fairly evenly with exciting names gracing each of the 11 teams. In the first edition, we look at the first six franchises in alphabetical order.

Celtic Dragons

Annika Lee-Jones may not have had a real chance to showcase her versatility during her time in the Suncorp Super Netball league back home in Australia, but the goal keeper has the ability to rotate forward and be a potential target out the front – something the Dragons have already tested out in practice matches. While the 24-year-old is yet to really come out of her shell and have a consistent impact, expect her to utilise her height and strength much more on the VNSL stage. Add in Jamaican X-factor, Rebekah Robinson, and the Dragons could have a few tricks up their sleeve this season.

Leeds Rhinos

The newest franchise in the competition is one that will surely send heads rolling, with a couple of Australians joining the fray in high calibre midcourter Madi Browne and developing goaler Donnell Wallam. While the two boast very different experience levels – with the former yet to actually arrive in the UK due to continued travel restrictions – they will bring plenty of excitement to the new-look squad, which will look to inject some Australian flavour into the competition under the helm of Aussie head coach, Dan RyanBrowne is a highly experienced midcourter that oozes class and pinpoint precision with ball in hand while Wallam’s towering height makes her an easy target under the post despite her limited experience at the elite level.

London Pulse

Pulse will enter its third season with some exciting talent at its disposal, with both Sigi Burger and Adean Thomas returning for their second respective seasons, while Burger’s South African compatriot and fellow attacker Lefebre Rademan also joins the fray, able to inject plenty of attacking flair. Expect creative movement, aerial flow and zippy footwork from the trio, and with forged combinations in attack and a further idea of what to expect this season, Pulse will once again be a team to watch.

Loughborough Lightning

Lightning welcomes back a couple of international names again this season, with towering Ugandan goal shooter Mary Cholhok heading up the frontline once more while a familiar Australian face returns in Sam May. While stationed at opposing ends, both players are pivotal and enable plenty of movement, with May an adaptable defender able to rotate through multiple positions. While Cholhok is reliable she can sometimes become heavily predictable, so fans will hope she can adjust her positioning and movement to become a more well-rounded focus at the post.

Manchester Thunder

Joyce Mvula has proved to be a Thunder lynchpin over the past few seasons, and 2021 will be no different for the side as the Malawi Queens goaler returns once more. Joined by compatriot Loreen Ngwira, who is as much a force to be reckoned with at the other end, and the Malawian duo are no easy beats, able to inject a heap of flair and creativity into their game. There is no doubting their respective aerial abilities, continuously leaping and finding the air ball with ease to continuously impact on the contest.

Saracens Mavericks

Stalwart New Zealand defender Jo Trip returns to the Mavericks ranks this season, bringing with her plenty of intensity and high-pressure defensive attributes to the fore. With excellent footwork and ability to drive the ball down the court, the Kiwi product will look to find her form down back – as will new South African recruit Ine-Mari Venter at the other end. The SPAR Protea joins the club from the Suncorp Super Netball, and will look to really showcase her shooting ability for the Mavericks, having added versatility to her repertoire throughout her time in Australia able to swing between goal attack and goal shooter.

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