2024 Netball Super League Preview – Loughborough Lightning

THE 2024 Netball Super League season is almost upon us, and to celebrate the build up to the season, Rookie Me Central will be previewing each of the 10 competing teams and seeing how this year might unfold for them. Up next are the Loughborough Lightning.

At the crux of it all, things could not have gone much better for the Lightning in 2023. After spending much of the year in a top two tussle with the London Pulse, they then went and beat the Pulse when it truly mattered on Grand Final Day.

However, not even the sweet taste of Grand Final success could help the Lightning avoid list turnover in the offseason with a number of faces heading out the door.

But in saying that, most of those faces that did leave the club were fringe squad members, and not regular starting seven players.

However, that does not mean there were not starting seven members on the departures list.

Arguably the biggest name to depart was Fran Williams, who left the Lightning to go play in Australia.

Her departure begs the question for Vic Burgess and her coaching staff of who will partner Alice Harvey in defence.

Beth Cobden can play that goal defence role but is often more preferred in wing defence, so that leaves three faces who are all new to the club in 2024 in the running – Annabel Roddy, Jade Popoola and Nicola Smith.

The other regular starting seven member to leave at the end of 2023 was Emma Thacker, who has moved across town to join the Mavericks.

She leaves a vacant starting goal attack role to partner Mary Cholhok, throwing up plenty of potential new combination options.

Rhea Dixon was brought on at times in 2023 as a bit of an impact player, but will Thacker’s departure result in her getting more game time in 2024. Ella Clark got next to no game time last year, while Niamh McCall is a new face to the club and will need time to settle into the set up but as a Scottish international will also not be wanting to be stuck on the bench for long.

This just leaves the mid court, which presents the least number of questions for the Lightning this season. Hannah Joseph, Natalie Panagarry and Bella Bayliss are all back from last year, and it is hard to see how Joseph and Panagarry will not be the starting midcourters again this year.  With an English Rose in Joseph and the club captain in Panagarry in front of her, Bayliss has a lot of work ahead of her to try and nab some court time this season.

Loughborough Lightning 2024 Squad

Alice Harvey, Annabel Roddy, Jade Popoola, Nicola Smith, Bella Bayliss, Beth Cobden, Hannah Joseph, Nat Panagarry, Mary Cholhok, Niamh McCall, Ella Clark, Rhea Dixon

Training Partners: Alex Johnson, Freya Henshall, Georgie Brock-Taylor

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