2021 SSN signings update: 15/9

PLAYER signings continued this week, with a couple of big names returning to their 2021 clubs as GIANTS Netball and Adelaide Thunderbirds made their first 2022 list announcements.

The GIANTS opened up the day with their first re-sign ahead of the upcoming season, confirming Jamie-Lee Price will remain in the orange dress for seasons 2022/23. A dynamic midcourter with plenty of strengths in her arsenal, Price was a key cog in the GIANTS’ grand final tilt this season and will look to continue her run of playing all 78 matches the GIANTS have played since the Suncorp Super Netball’s inception.

“I’m really thrilled to extend my time at the GIANTS,” Price said. “I’m super excited for the next couple of years – 2021 was a great year for us as a group and I can’t wait to build on from the year that was.”

Meanwhile, Adelaide Thunderbirds made their first announcement of the post-season, confirming South African import Shadine van der Merwe would not be returning to the club next season. The wing defence played 36 matches with the Thunderbirds throughout the course of three seasons, after joining as an injury replacement in 2019, before retaining her position in the squad throughout the COVID-19 ravaged 2020/21 seasons.

“I’ve met special people, made friends for life and played my best netball,” van der Merwe said. “It’s been a dream to be here, playing against the best in the world and seeing the passion and hard work that goes into our wonderful sport.

“I want to thank the coaching and management team, the incredible fans and most importantly, my wonderful teammates – thank you for taking me into your hearts and being so kind, I will miss you all.”

The Melbourne Vixens have unveiled their third 2022 signing, with Jo Weston officially returning to the fray. The goal defence returns for her ninth season at the club, and is a clear leader in the back-end with her consistency and connections across the court.

“Going into my ninth season, I’ve definitely seen the game grow in a lot of aspects. We’re stepping into a new phase of the sport that I really hope will help lift the profile of all our athletes, and women’s sport in general,” Weston said. “Every game is an honour to represent Victoria and Melbourne, and I’m really looking forward to what we can bring as a team next year.

“From a Vixens point of view, I know that with the team we’re building, we’re going to be in a good position to bounce back in 2022.”

Meanwhile, Maddie McAuliffe has announced she is stepping away from the sport altogether, choosing to forego the Sunshine Coast Lightning’s 2022 offer to focus on her post-netball career in the legal field.

“I feel incredibly privileged to be offered another contract at Lightning for the 2022 season and I thank the Club for that, but this year I’ve made one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever had to make,” McAuliffe said.

“Essentially the decision was either to continue playing netball or to focus on my non-netball professional career – and while it was a really tough choice for me to make, I have chosen to appreciate the five years I’ve had at the Club and move onto the next phase of my life.

“I feel so grateful for the past five years and the opportunities this Club has presented me, the people I’ve met, the relationships I’ve built and the home I’ve built on the Sunshine Coast.”

Head coach Kylie Byrne commended McAuliffe for making the tough decision, and bidding the Lightning foundations player good luck for her future endeavours.

“We knew the day would come that one of our five year foundation players wouldn’t be a part of our playing future but it doesn’t make it any easier when it actually happens,” Byrne said.

“After coaching Maddy since she was seventeen, I personally am so proud of everything she has accomplished, whether it was on the court or establishing her connections with her teammates, our staff and our community.

“Maddy was extremely passionate about leaving the sport in a better place for the future generations of netballers and she has achieved this.

“We wish Maddy nothing but the absolute best in her future endeavours.

“I have no doubt that Maddy will excel in whatever challenge she tackles next in life and she will forever be part of our Lightning family as a foundation player.”

2021 SSN signings update: 14/9 | 2021 SSN signings update: 13/9

Picture credit: Suncorp Super Netball

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