The all new FIAT Netball Superleague starts up again in January with aim to being higher profile, more competitive and more exciting than ever before.
New changes to the format for this season reduce the number of teams to just 8 to ensure the top teams, with a half season divide to increase the competition and create less one sided matches. These changes are sure to make the league more intense and can hopefully also help England compete with the other big netballing nations.
Here’s a quick run down of the selected franchises for 2012, starting with last years winners…
The mavericks are two time winners and will once again be hot favourites for the title. Playing in purple and black netball dresses and featuring England international Sasha Corbin, the Mavericks face a tricky opening fixture against last years runners up Surrey Storm.
Storm have never won the Superleague before but have a better opportunity than ever with top internationals throughout the side including now player-coach Tamsin Greenway. Storm’s first fixture at the Surrey Sports Park is against Loughborough.
The Dragons are now the only Superleague side based outside of England and will begin their campaign by hosting Team Bath. Playing in green, black and white kits they have never won the competition but will be looking to cause some upsets in the new league structure.
Team Bath are the most successful side in Superleague history, having collected the prize 4 times since 2006. They will likely be strong competitors again this year with stars like Eboni Beckford-Chambers among their lineup. Their first home fixture will be against Northern Thunder on 30th Jan.
Big squad changes for Lightning saw them lose Jo Harten to New Zealand but bring in some new experienced players, perhaps making an unpredictable side. Lightning will host Northumbria to start and the side in purple will look to hit the ground running.
Northumbria are under the guidance of head coach Lisa Stanley and finished 5th in last seasons standings. More focus will be placed on the top 4 this season and will be the aim of the red and black side.
Thunder were league runners up but missed out on the final. The yellows will look to international stars like Emma Dovey to go one better this season, beginning with Yorkshire Jets in Manchester on the 23rd Jan.
Jets are the new wildcard entry starting their first season after formerly being Leeds Carnegie. Their are many unknowns about the side at this stage (including their team colours!) but hopefully they can establish themselves with some upsets in the early rounds.
For more info visit the Netball Superleague Website, best of luck to all teams involved!