Thunderbirds name leadership group

The Adelaide Thunderbirds are excited to announce Erin Bell has been named club captain ahead of the inaugural Suncorp Super Netball League season.

Bell, who also led the Adelaide Thunderbirds in 2016, is the club’s longest serving current player after moving to Adelaide from Sydney eight years ago to ignite her playing career. The former Club Champion has gone on to become a firm favourite with South Australian netball fans and has had success with two premierships with the club (2010, 2013) as well as becoming a dual-Netball World Cup gold medallist with the Australian Diamonds (2011, 2015).

For coach Dan Ryan, the respect Bell has from her peers and the entire Thunderbirds group makes her the ideal person to lead this team.

“Erin truly is the beating heart of this club and the loyalty and passion she has shown over many years is something I greatly admire about her,” said Ryan.

“Her ability to really inspire this group and set the benchmarks and standards around how we operate will be vital for us throughout the season. She’s already made such a positive impact on this group and I’m certainly looking forward to seeing what we can achieve together.”

Bell will be supported by English International Jade Clarke, who returns to the Thunderbirds for her second season.

A late call up to the squad last year, Clarke is the most capped English player in history with 135 caps for her country and has earned respect from her opponents with her tenacious defence, never-say-die attitude and natural leadership style.

“Jade is a leader based on actions and that’s exactly what we need here and something that is absolutely critical in a high pressure environment. She’s an athlete of few words but when she speaks, it’s meaningful and purposeful and everyone listens,” said Ryan.

“No one works harder than Jade; she’s just the ultimate professional. She demands the best from the ones around her and her accountability makes her a class act. She’s such a seasoned campaigner and a great character who will be incredibly valuable to our team.”

Bell and Clarke will be well supported with former Vixens premiership player Karyn Bailey and exciting defensive prospect Fiona Themann named as part of the leadership group.

Ryan said while the delay in naming the captain left some fans guessing, it was important to give the new group the opportunity to naturally create an environment to showcase their leadership skills to the group.

“With such a new group and players from all over the country and the world, we wanted to see how the group would come together and who would naturally emerge within the leadership space. That’s a process that takes time and with the addition of Karyn and Fiona to the leadership group, I think we have the balance and skill set just right,” Ryan said.

“The one thing we really have in this team is experience and a lot of athletes have highly credentialed leadership experience both nationally and internationally. This team will not be dependent on one or two people to lead the way, each athlete has a role to play and a contribution to make and that’s what we will pride ourselves on now and into the future.”

The Adelaide Thunderbirds will kick off the inaugural Suncorp Super Netball League campaign at home at Priceline Stadium on Sunday, 19 February against the West Coast Fever. To purchase tickets follow the link.