2021 VNSL Team Previews: Leeds Rhinos

WITH the Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) season just around the corner after a year-long hiatus due to the COVID-19 enforced cancellation in 2020, Draft Central takes a look at each team, its player list and expectations. The next team under the microscope is new franchise Leeds Rhinos who will be eager to prove themselves as serious contenders.

It is a new era of VNSL with Leeds Rhinos joining the fray and ready to take the competition by storm. Boasting a mix of established and experienced names along with up and coming players, the Rhinos have somewhat big expectations for their inaugural season. Headlined by coach Dan Ryan the Rhinos have no shortage of experience and netball smarts making them a team to watch.

2021 expectations/predictions:

Only a week off from the season commencing, star signing in Madi Browne has announced that she will be unable to join the squad, focusing on her lingering anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury recovery back home in Australia. The fleet-footed midcourter was gearing up for a big season of VNSL renowned for her impressive timing to pop out at the transverse line and ability to deliver pinpoint passes, so her loss will well and truly be felt across the court. However ,there is no shortage of options through the centre with Jade Clarke a key figure. The most capped England Roses player, Clarke will be crucial in setting up the Rhinos not only through the centre but also in the attacking and defensive ends providing that link between the two. Expect Clarke to provide that gut-running through the centre third while also showcasing her hand as a defensive option to swat away passes and build pressure.

Aside from experienced heads there are a number of developing players that will be eager to make a splash for the Rhinos and one of them is Vicki Oyesola. She is an exciting face that is set to pull on the Leeds outfit for the upcoming season boasting plenty of potential and ball winning abilities. The talented defender is not afraid to launch at the cross-court ball and possesses plenty of skill which she will be eager to display on a more consistent basis. She is likely to play alongside the likes of Paige Kindred who crossed from Celtic Dragons with Kindred able to pull on the wing defence and goal defence bib highlighting her versatility.

Players to watch:

Although she is an unknown quantity, Donnell Wallam could take the competition by storm. She is a real raw prospect that will be aiming to leave her mark on the competition given it is the first time she will be competing at the elite level. Wallam is not afraid of a bit of argy-bargy under the post and is more than capable of holding her own, as shown by her performance in the West Coast Fever-WA All Stars exhibition match against Australian Diamonds goal keeper Courtney Bruce. Wallam is capable of scoring quickly and often takes advantage of her height to reel in long looping passes and most importantly deliver. Her overall body positioning and footwork enables her to hold space and edge closer to the post making her a focal point for the Rhinos.


Team list:

Madi Browne**
Jade Clarke
Brittany Coleman
Rhea Dixon
Amelia Hall
Rosie Harris
Emily Hollingworth
Paige Kindred
Michelle Magee
Vicki Oyesola
Sienna Rushton
Brie Tyler Grierson
Donnell Wallam

**not playing in 2021

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