VNSL 2022 Team Preview: Wasps Netball
WITH a greater turnover than any other side, the 2022 Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) will be a challenging one for Wasps Netball. That is not to say they cannot compete, but rather adapting to plenty of fresh faces and a high turnover – with eight players departing the club – making it a new-look overall lineup next season.
Running through the departures, the defensive end took a massive hit with the loss of England international Fran Williams. The Roses circle defender has headed to reigning premiers Loughborough Lightning, one of five players to join five different VNSL sides. Sophia Candappa (Surrey Storm), Lily-May Catling (Team Bath), Hannah Leighton (Celtic Dragons) and Katie Harris (Severn Stars) are the key departures, whilst Amy Flanagan – who will take a break from netball – and Ally Housley are among the others to depart this off-season.
Candappa returns to Storm where she played in the title-winning 2016 team. Success just seems to follow here, with the 28-year-old midcourter winning two more titles at Wasps, and will be a lose for the the yellow and black side. Catling joins Williams as another defender to depart, whilst up the other end, the loss of Harris will deplete the Wasps’ shooting talents. Meanwhile Leighton earned her first international cap for Scotland earlier in the month and will earn more minutes with the Dragons.
Having lost a couple of midfielders, a couple of defenders and a shoot from that group – and at least three starters with one in each third – the Wasps needed to replenish the list. They have brought in a pair of Lightning talents in Lauren Nicholls and Lucy Parize, as well as Celtic Dragons’ Christina Shaw and Severn Stars’ Ellie Gibbons.
Parize will get more opportunities at Wasps than she did at Lightning, whilst Nicholls is effectively the Flanagan replacement in the midcourt, though with a defensive versatility too. The 24-year-old Shaw could be the direct Williams replacement in the defensive goal circle, after a strong season with the Dragons. Gibbons is still raw but able to play through the attacking third of the court.
From an existing squad standpoint, Iona Christian had a great series for Scotland earlier this month and is looking primed for a huge midcourt season, whilst Jamaican shooter Gezelle Allison could earn the starting spot alongside Rachel Dunn in the goal circle. Up the other end, Josie Huckle will form a new partnership with likely Shaw, whilst Ella Powell-Davies and Leah Goss are other rotation options. Goss is likely to continue her starting wing attack role, but Parize could develop further in the role to rotate between there and goal attack
POTENTIAL STARTING SEVEN:
GK: Josie Huckle
GD: Christina Shaw
WD: Lauren Nicholls
C: Iona Christian
WA: Leah Goss
GA: Gezelle Allison
GS: Rachel Dunn
It is a tough starting seven to predict and would have been good to squeeze Parize in there. She could well end up at wing attack or even goal attack over Allison, depending on the makeup of the team tactics. Wasps have lost a lot of top-end talent, but have picked up some great future talents as well, with Shaw and Nicholls potentially able to slot straight in coming from their respective sides.