Jade Clarke to leave Loughborough Lightning for Adelaide Thunderbirds
By Paul Prenderville
Last Updated: 20/02/16 3:22pm
Loughborough Lightning centre Jade Clarke is leave the Vitality Netball Superleague team to join ANZ Championship side Adelaide Thunderbirds.
Clarke, who started Monday's defeat to Manchester Thunder, will return to Australia, where she had a successful five-year spell between 2010-15.
The former England captain will link up with the Thunderbirds ahead of their 2016 season, which starts in April, meaning she will be available for another three games of Lightning's campaign, with her final appearance coming in the away game with Team Bath on March 4.
Adelaide made their move for Clarke as a replacement for Renae Ingles, who recently confirmed her pregnancy, and Loughborough head coach Karen Atkinson admits it is a big blow to lose the mid-courter.
"I am devastated for the team that this has happened mid-way through our 2016 campaign. It is a big pull for any player to play in the ANZ but I had hoped the decision would have been a different one," she said.
"Naturally a player of Jade's calibre is a loss to any team, but we won't let this distract us from our goal, which is to finish in the top four and challenge for the NSL title."
Loughborough's executive director of sport John Steele admitted Lightning did not want to block the opportunity for Clarke but could not hide his disappointment at how events transpired.
"Our player centred development philosophy means we will support any individual to gain the most from every opportunity available and have therefore agreed to release Jade," Steele told the Loughborough Sport website.
"However we are extremely disappointed with the way Adelaide Thunderbirds have conducted themselves. Approaching one of our players directly, midway through the season has been very disruptive and has put our player in a difficult position. Our focus now is to ensure we have the best possible support structure in place for our squad as we move forward with our 2016 season."