Gloucestershire’s newest professional sports club, the Severn Stars, have completed their line-up for their debut Vitality Netball Superleague season with three new home-grown recruits and two international arrivals.
The Severn Stars, jointly run by the University of Gloucestershire and University of Worcester, have signed five more players to complete the full squad of 12 for the 2017 season.
The signings include international recruits 28 year old Australian Josie Janz-Dawson and Trinidad and Tobago international Afeisha Noel. 22 year old Lucy Richardson arrives from Yorkshire Jets, England under 21 long-squad international, Iona Darroch, joins from Manchester Thunder and 31 year old Rachel Sweet who joins from Loughborough Lightning.
Head coach Mo'onia Gerrard said: “We have secured some great experienced players for the Severn Stars roster for 2017. They have the right attitude to build this club in the right direction. Josie Janz, having played for West Coast Fever in the ANZ championship for 8 plus years, will help strengthen the Stars team on and off the court. Followed by Afeisha Noel who was very strong in her World Cup campaign for Trinidad &Tobago in 2015.
"Lucy Richardson is a fierce competitor and her positive attitude is infectious. Iona Darroch is an up-and-coming England 21s prospect and has some great skills and is one to watch in the future. Rachel Sweet being a Worcester local has earned her spot by her sheer determination and experience as a leader for the Worcester Reds which will help steer the Stars in the right direction as a player and the club.”
Joint Director of Netball for the Severn Stars and Director of Netball at the University of Gloucestershire, Pamela Cookey, said: "Our squad is complete! The blend of youth and experience both in ages and court experience really makes this a team to look out for. Lucy and Rachel having been part of the VNSL in previous seasons want to achieve more. Iona having strutted her stuff at the European U21 competition just a few weeks ago is bursting to step up to the challenge and then our two imports, Afeisha and Josie, bring their experience of international netball to our shores and to the Stars. I’m buzzing.”
Dr Anita Navin, University of Gloucestershire Severn Stars Director and Head of School for Sport and Exercise, said: "I am excited at the prospects of the Severn Stars squad. Our intentions have clearly been met in ensuring we blend experience and youth. Iona is an up-and-coming U21 player for England who has already made an impact in terms of her athleticism and commitment. Our imports Afeisha and Josie will add tremendous value and varying styles of play. Lucy and Rachel who have had a taste of Superleague in previous seasons have impressed in the selection process and complete the line-up for the Severn Stars. The training environment mirrors the intensity required to compete at this top domestic level and I can't wait to see the players on court for the 2017 season.”
18 year old Iona Darroch, from Handforth in Cheshire, said: “I’m so excited to be part of the Severn Stars squad! For my first season in Superleague it’s a great opportunity for me to develop as a player. I can’t wait to be coached by Mo’onia, Sam and Pam and learn from the other players on the team and see how they influence my performance. It’s going to be a challenging season but I’m looking forward to what lies ahead!”
Lucy Richardson, who won two BUCS championships with Leeds Beckett, said: “The set up at Stars is so exciting and I am over the moon to be involved in one of the new franchises, and to have the opportunity to be coached by some world class coaches and play/train with some amazing players.
Josie Jans-Dawson, who joins from the West Coast Fever club who play in the ANZ Championship in Australia, said: “I am really excited about coming over to play for the Severn Stars and work with my new teammates. I think we will have the ability to blend a few playing styles together and I'm really looking forward to learning more from Mo'onia Gerrard. Looking at the pre-season training program I know Mon will be pushing us to train at a high intensity and I'm really looking forward to the challenge and setting the standard for what we can achieve together in 2017.”
The full Severn Stars 2017 Superleague squad: Lauren Brookes, Eleanor Cardwell, Sophie Carter, Iona Darroch, Jodie Gibson, Josie Janz-Dawson, Laura Malcolm, Afeisha Noel, Becky Oatley, Lucy Richardson, Rachel Sweet and Rebecca Tildsley.