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Vitality Netball Superleague: South Africa international Lenize Potgieter joins Manchester Thunder

The goal shooter joins the defending Superleague champions for the 2023 season after Joyce Mvula and Eleanor Cardwell depart; the Vitality Netball Superleague signing window will be open until October 14; all teams will have 12 registered players and up to three training partners

Lenize Potgieter
Image: Lenize Potgieter joins Manchester Thunder for the 2023 season

Lenize Potgieter has joined Manchester Thunder for the 2023 season, swapping Australia's Suncorp Super Netball for the Vitality Netball Superleague, as young shooter Lois Pearson re-signs.

Thunder will be the defending champions after an unbeaten title-winning season in 2022, but have already announced that four leading players have left the squad, including two shooters.

Joyce Mvula, Eleanor Cardwell, Laura Malcolm and Caroline O'Hanlon have all departed the outfit, but Potgieter's arrival and that of Taylor McKevitt marks an impressive start of Thunder's 2023 recruitment.

McKevitt returns to her former side and will also undergo off-court duties helping run the club's 'camps and masterclasses'.

Potgieter, who has 81 caps for South Africa, has played in the Vitality Netball Superleague before having been at Team Bath in 2016.

After that, the South African international spent time in New Zealand's ANZ Premiership before moving to Australia's Suncorp Super Netball (SSN).

"Playing in the SSN league against the top defenders in the world has really improved my netball performance, as well as taught me lessons along the way," Potgieter said.

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"The things I've heard and seen from the Manchester Thunder franchise are incredible. I'm really excited to be playing alongside some great netballers, getting to know the fans and also return to normal, traditional netball [without Super Shot].

"I think what I bring to the team is my unorthodox style of play, and also my quick shooting action," she added. "I'm really looking forward to putting the black and yellow dress for the 2023 season."

Potgieter is currently going through rehab after a knee operation at the end of July and has previously spoken about mental health challenges she faced during her career. She stepped away from the sport for six months in order to focus on her recovery.

Pearson re-signs for 2023 season

The defending champions have also re-signed Pearson. The 22-year-old has been a part of the Thunder pathway for the past ten years, and since 2012 has made her way through all of the age groups.

In 2021, under head coach Karen Greig and Thunder's performance operations director Tracey Neville, Pearson stepped up from a training partner to cement her place as a member of Thunder's first team squad.

In her first Superleague season, she made 21 appearances and scored 26 goals at 78.79 per cent accuracy.

In 2022, Pearson continued to be a consistent presence in the squad and played in all 22 games of Thunder's undefeated season, scoring 33 goals. She is now a member of England's Future Roses programme.

"She is an exciting young athlete with still so much more to learn and is a real sponge with a great attitude," head coach Greig said. "I am excited to see how much more we can pull from her this season."

Vitality Netball Superleague Signing Window

The Vitality Netball Superleague signing window opened on August 8 and will remain open until October 14, when clubs will be expected to have revealed their line-ups in full.

Clubs may have a total squad of up to 15 players, comprising of 12 registered players and up to three training partners, with match-day squads being set at a maximum of 12.

Following the conclusion of the 2022 season, teams were allowed to start approaching players from other clubs who are currently out of contract. They were able to engage in negotiations with their existing contracted players before the end of the season.

Each team is allowed to register two non-UK players, but they cannot play in the same area of the court at the same time.

Early movements for 2023

Following the conclusion of the 2022 season a number of coaching announcements and player movements/retirements have already been shared.

Kim Borger and Rachel Shaw have both announced their retirements from elite-level netball and have therefore left Team Bath Netball. The franchise also approaches the new season with a new head coach, Asha Francis following Anna Stembridge's departure.

Severn Stars' Katie Harris has stepped away from netball, Liana Leota also leaves Stars to take up a position as Leeds Rhinos' director of netball as does Cat Tuivaiti, who becomes Wasps' head coach.

Stars' previous head coach Melissa Bessell has returned to New Zealand for family reasons, with former Superleague player Jo Trip stepping up into that role.

Kadeen Corbin, Chloe Essam, Georgia Lees and Gabby Marshall have all left Saracens Mavericks and the team have appointed Camilla Buchanan as their new head coach and Tamsin Greenway as head of strategic performance.

Strathclyde Sirens' captain Gia Abernethy has made the decision to retire from elite netball.

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