De Bruin and Shimmin reinforce Thunderbirds defence

The Adelaide Thunderbirds have bolstered their defence end, announcing former New Zealand and South African international, Leana de Bruin and home-grown talent, Kate Shimmin, as their first signings for 2018 Suncorp Super Netball.

At 39 years old, Leana de Bruin retired from international netball last year and has shown no signs of slowing down as she continued to dominate domestically, finishing in the top ten for rebounds (19) and deflections (56) in this year’s ANZ Premiership, and was named MVP of the Northern Stars.

De Bruin has had a highly decorated international career, representing the Silver Ferns in 104 Test Matches and South Africa for 34 Test Matches. The dynamic defender is a two-time Commonwealth Games gold medalist (2006 and 2010) and is one of only seven players to have competed at five Netball World Cups, winning in 2003. She was also an ANZ Championship premiership player with the Waikato-Bay of Plenty team in 2012.

Head coach Dan Ryan is excited to be able to add someone as experienced as Leana to his line-up for 2018.

“Leana is one of the best defenders in the world and I’ve always had incredible respect for the way she plays the game. Her experience and smarts, plus the ability to stand up and be a match winner, are attributes that are going to be so valuable for our team,” said Ryan.

“She will provide great leadership down back, as well as the perfect mentorship for rising stars Kate Shimmin and Fiona Themann. Having her sign with us is just sensational and I cannot wait to see the positive influence she is going to have on the club.”

One of Australia’s most exciting young players, Kate Shimmin started her career at the Adelaide Thunderbirds as a teenager in 2011 before moving to the Queensland Firebirds last season. After being a regular fixture in Australia’s Fast5 side for the last few years, she travelled with the Australian Diamonds to South Africa and England as a training partner for the 2017 Netball Quad Series.

A proud product of the South Australian development pathways, Ryan says it is a coup to lure the promising defender back home to the Thunderbirds.

“It was really important for us to have some South Australian flavour in the team and Kate was right at the top of my wish list. I think the year away was the best thing for her but it is the right time for her to come home to the Thunderbirds and play a key role in our rebuild,” said Ryan.

“She’s is a real ball winner and an absolute menace, so I’m looking forward to seeing what she can bring to our new-look defence line.”

They will be joined in the defence end by Fiona Themann, who enjoyed a break-out debut season at this level with the Adelaide Thunderbirds in 2017.

“Not only did Fiona have a brilliant debut season, it was also her first season consistently playing goal defence. I was so impressed with her work ethic and tenacity and she certainly proved she was worthy of the opportunity. The growth within her is exciting and I’d expect her to go to a whole new level next year,” said Ryan.

The Adelaide Thunderbirds will announce the rest of their 2018 squad over the next two days.