The Severn Stars have announced their first three signings ahead of their debut Vitality Netball Superleague season.
The trio of England internationals Jodie Gibson, Eleanor Cardwell and Laura Malcolm will join the newly-formed team, a partnership between the University of Gloucestershire and the University of Worcester.
All three have extensive Superleague experience and played last season for Manchester Thunder. They have just returned from Australia following the England Roses’ participation in the Quad series with Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, where the team finished third.
All three have also just been selected for the England squad competing in the 2016 Fast5 Netball World Series, a five-a-side version of netball taking place in Australia in October.
Laura Malcolm said: "I'm very excited to be a part of the brand new franchise Severn Stars this VNSL season. Although Thunder will always be an incredibly special franchise to me sometimes as an athlete you need to step out of your comfort zone and throw yourself into a new challenge. Working in a completely new environment with Ex-Aussie Diamond, Mo'onia Gerrard, will undoubtedly provide me with that challenge and I can't wait to be put to the test!"
Eleanor Cardwell said: “Severn Stars provides a great opportunity to develop as a player and I'm very much excited to work with Mo'onia and all the staff at Stars. The talks I've had with this new franchise has created confidence in the move I'm making and I'm very optimistic for this season. I can't wait to put on the Severn Stars dress and see what we can do as a team this season.”
Jodie Gibson said: “I am looking forward to the upcoming Superleague season with Severn Stars. This is an exciting opportunity with a brand new franchise. I am really excited to start pre-season with the squad and to start working with head coach Mo'onia Gerrard.”
The Severn Stars is one of a number of new franchises in the Vitality Netball Superleague and has already signed up former Australian international Mo’onia Gerrard as coach and former England captain Pamela Cookey to help guide the side.
Severn Stars coach Mo’onia Gerrard said: “Our aim is to develop England's next generation and we are stepping in the right direction with Jodie, Eleanor and Laura who are currently in the Roses squad. We are really excited to have them on board as they are Stars in their own right.”
Pamela Cookey, Director of Netball at the University of Gloucestershire, said: "It’s fabulous to get our signings rolling. These three will be a great addition to the team and one for each area of the court. I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do in our colours."
Co-Director and Head of School for Sport and Exercise at the University of Gloucestershire, Dr Anita Navin said: “We are really looking forward to building a squad around our England Roses. I have always valued the work ethic, athleticism and tenacity of all three players and they will be an asset to the super league club both on and off the court.”
Fellow Director for the Severn Stars and Deputy Pro-Vice Chancellor (Inclusive Sport and Educational Development) at the University of Worcester, Mick Donovan said: “We are thrilled at these first exciting player signings. This is excellent news for the Severn Stars and sends out a clear message about our desire to put an exciting team on the court. At the University of Worcester, we are also looking forward to supporting Jodie as a student/athlete.”
Pictures courtesy of the Press Association.