Severn Stars have encouraged their squad from winners Manchester Thunder to its 2020 Vitality Superleague season with the signing of Liana Leota.
Stars have swooped to make among the contest’s most consistent performers with signing up underway throughout the Superleague.
The New Zealander has chosen for a new challenge ahead of the new year, although leota has enjoyed a four decades with Thunder, culminating at the Grand Box in May.
The 34-year-old, World Cup runner-up in 2011 and plus a Commonwealth silver medallist in 2014, heads to join up with Stars who finished sixth in last year’s competition.
It also represents a reunion with a face in the shape of Stars’ new head coach Melissa Bessell, that coached Leota as a teenager, as she’s taken over the reins in the franchise after the departure of Sam Bird.
«I am just excited to begin. It’s a new battle with a brand new franchise for me personally and I can’t wait,» the former New Zealand international completely told Sky Sports.
«Melissa explained to me she has such a gifted group of young players however was keen to have someone with experience and knowledge amongst them . It was a case of whether I wanted to carry on that challenge.
«To have the ability to generate a difference to this younger players was something new for me. With Thunder we had such a great group of senior players, anyone could come in and out, but now it is around me to attempt to make a difference with those young ones»
Bessell is something of a mentor for Leota, who is keen to make the move and having worked with all the Pathway teams at Manchester she’ll continue that with an opinion for her profession that is post-netball.
«Once the whistle goes a trainer can’t do anything, therefore [I want] to be the player on the court which may hopefully offer the knowledge, the experience and the calmness that Melissa can not until the fracture.
«Melissa was a mentor for me as a teenager in New Zealand when I was growing up and that I enjoy her strategy — she tells it the way it was — and us both on the side of the world we have been sounding boards for one another.
«After she made the Stars job with this group of girls that’s exactly what got things going and, for me personally, I’m now in that particular period where I’m asking if I would like to mentor.
«However, for now, I still have a desire to perform and to win and compete, but I am starting to look ahead of if I need to be a coach — I love training and I’ve got a passion for it, but will I really be good?»
Bessell is thrilled to have a player of the standing on board of Leota as the Stars seem to make the jump to being a top-four contender.
She said:»This must be among the best signings from the Vitality Superleague. Liana is not a world-class athlete, however, an wonderful leader with among the men and women in the game and an immense amount of experience now.
«It is very exciting to have her playing for your Severn Stars this season. She’s among the most energetic players, using an inborn knowledge of the match. Flair and her passion is magic. I am so happy to be working together with her in my first time and am excited for the other athletes to work together with her.»
It brings to an end.
She’s nothing but fond memories of her time having moved to perform her netball along with her husband Johnny who proceeded to play with Sale Sharks rugby union.
«It turned out really, very hard like I have had such a burst in Manchester. We’ve had good memories, some wonderful achievements. And I am so happy to be able to depart as a Superleague winner»
Sky Sports is the home of netball and it returns to your screens starting with British Championships on Saturday whenever they visit South Africa in November although the Roses return to action under new coach Jess Thirlby.
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