Celtic Dragons have completed their squad for the 2020 Vitality Netball Superleague season which starts next February at Arena Birmingham.
Lucy Howells and Laura Burton have returned to Dragons after playing last season, while coach Tania Hoffman has added Eleri Michael, Brittany Coleman and Eleri Michael.
The five signings come from a variety of backgrounds and have represented a range of international teams and Superleague franchises in their careers.
Howells and Burton made their Celtic Dragons debuts in 2019, with Howells gaining four new senior international caps for Wales in the last year, while Burton was in the 2019-20 Scottish Thistles senior long squad.
“I’m excited about working with these fantastic athletes as we head into the 2020 season,” says Hoffman. “It’s great to see players going into their second season with the franchise alongside talented youngsters stepping up from age-group to elite senior netball.
“The new players will have some fantastic opportunities to take on some of the country’s best netballers, as part of a squad of 15.”
Cardiff University student Annie O’Rourke has switched from Team Bath to Dragons, while Cardiff Met University student Eleri Michael, who is from Afar Nedd Tawe in West Wales, was one of Wales’ leading lights at the Netball Europe under-21 Championships.
Michael helped the team to wins against Northern Ireland and Scotland.
Shooter Brittany Coleman, selected for England Futures in 2018-19 season, joins the Dragons squad having previously played for Loughborough Lightning. Coleman is a 22-year-old from the East Midlands.
Welsh defender Lucy Howells, the performance support officer for Netball Wales and is from Pembrokeshire, said: “I’m really pleased to be back with Dragons for another year.
“Last season was big for me. I played Superleague games for the first time in my career. I feel I’ve developed a lot as a player in that time and I’m really looking forward to the next challenge.”
Vitality Netball Superleague 2020 squad:
Shooters: Amy Clinton, Chelsea Lewis, Brittany Coleman and Rebekah Robinson
Mid-court: Sophie Morgan, Shona O’Dwyer, Paige Kindred, Eleri Michael and Laura Burton.
Defence: Dee Bolakoro, Abby Tyrrell, Latanya Wilson, Leila Thomas, Lucy Howells and Annie O’Rourke.
Dragons played their first warm-up match this week and suffered a 59-goal defeat in Deeside. The friendly was played over six periods and Dragons rotated their players throughout.
Karen Greig’s Thunder team made the short trip down the M56 into north Wales and showed their class from the start, limiting Dragons to just three goals in the first period while they piled 18 onto the scoreboard.
Thunder have had a consistent team over the last couple of years with a couple of changes for 2020, while Dragons have a much changed line-up which included three former Thunder players Abby Tyrrell, Amy Clinton and Sophie Morgan.
It showed as Dragons took time to settle. The black and yellows from Manchester were dominant.
Manchester Thunder: GS Mvula, GA Turner, WA Neal, C O’Hanlon, WD Carter, GD Dovey, GK Airey.
Celtic Dragons: GS Clinton, GA Roberts, WA Burton, C Morgan, WD Thomas, GD Tyrrell, GK Bolakoro
🔥 Bring on the Vitality Netball Superleague Season Opener 🔥
📅 22 February 2020
🏟️ Arena Birmingham
🔟 Superleague sides in action
— Vitality Netball Superleague (@NetballSL) December 9, 2019
Vitality Netball Superleague
Celtic Dragons fixtures 2020 (19 regular season rounds)
Saturday 22: Celtic Dragons v Surrey Storm (Arena Birmingham, 12.45pm)
Saturday 29: Celtic Dragons v Team Bath (Viola Arena, 4pm)
Monday 9: London Pulse v Celtic Dragons (Copper Box Arena, 7pm)
Monday 16: Celtic Dragons v Strathclyde Sirens (Sports Wales National Centre, 7pm)
Saturday 21: Manchester Thunder v Celtic Dragons (Belle Vue, 5pm)
Saturday 28: Celtic Dragons v Saracens Mavericks (Sports Wales National Centre, 4pm)
Monday 6: Severn Stars v Celtic Dragons (Gloucester University, 7pm)
Friday 10: Loughborough Lightning v Celtic Dragons (Sir David Wallace Arena, 7pm)
Monday 13: Celtic Dragons v Loughborough Lightning (Sport Wales National Centre, 7pm)
Saturday 18: Surrey Storm v Celtic Dragons (Surrey Sports Park, 6pm)
Saturday 25: Celtic Dragons v Wasps (Viola Arena, 4pm)
Wednesday 29: Team Bath v Celtic Dragons (Team Bath Arena, 7.30pm)
Saturday 2: Celtic Dragons v London Pulse (Viola Arena, 4pm)
Saturday 9: Strathclyde Sirens v Celtic Dragons (Emirates Arena, 2pm)
Saturday 16: Celtic Dragons v Manchester Thunder (Sport Wales National Centre, 4pm)
Saturday 23: Saracens Mavericks v Celtic Dragons (Hertfordshire Sports Village, 4pm)
Saturday 30: Celtic Dragons v Severn Stars (Sport Wales National Centre, 4pm)
Saturday 6: Celtic Dragons v Surrey Storm (Viola Arena, 4pm)
Monday 15: Wasps v Celtic Dragons (University of Warwick, 7pm)
Saturday 27: Knockout semi-finals (Venue to be confirmed)
Saturday 4: Grand final (Venue to be confirmed, 5.30pm)