Severn Stars has announced an exciting squad that combines youth and experience as it bids to make its mark in the Netball Superleague 2023 season.

Fans will be thrilled to see the return of some of their favourites, but this is largely an exciting new look squad, reflecting a new era for Stars as it begins its first season under the sole ownership of the University of Worcester. It includes a former Superleague champion and current and former internationals.

“We have a very new look team for this season and I am buzzing to get to work with this group of extremely talented athletes,” said Severn Stars Head Coach, Jo Trip.

In attack, the line-up features South African international shooter Sigi Burger, who played for Leeds Rhinos last season. Burger, who has played for several teams in the Superleague since 2018, represented her country in the 2018 Commonwealth Games and the 2019 World Cup. Fellow shooter Grace Namana, who has been playing in the New Zealand ANZ Championships, is also a new name to the line-up.

A familiar face for Stars fans is Issy Eaton, who is re-signing for her third season, but will this time be studying Sports Coaching and PE at the University of Worcester alongside. Sixteen-year-old Lily Smith completes the shooting line-up, joining from Wasps Academy’s Under 17s, where she played in the National Performance League. If selected this would be her Superleague debut.

In contrast, a new look mid-court line-up features experienced Superleague player Gabby Marshall, who spent four seasons with Saracens Mavericks. She has represented England at Under 17, Under 19, Under 21 and senior level. Sarah MacPhail, who has several seasons at Strathclyde Sirens under her belt and was in the Scotland national team that competed at the Commonwealth Games, has also signed.

Mid-courter Jess Shaw, who has lots of experience in the Superleague, having played for both Team Bath and Loughborough Lightning, and for England in the Netball World Youth Cup in 2017, has also signed. Kelsie Taylor joins the team after being a Training Partner at Loughborough Lightning last season where she made her made her Superleague debut.

Defensively, former University of Worcester student Lucy Herdman returns to Stars for her third season off the back of her selection in the mixed national team for England. Alongside her is Rebekah Airey, who was in the victorious Manchester Thunder squad of 2019, but has also played for Loughborough Lightning and last season Leeds Rhinos. She has also represented England at Under 21 level.

Jess Haynes, who made her Superleague debut in 2021 for Loughborough Lightning and was part of their winning side that same year, will also strengthen the side. Completing the defensive line-up is Stars Head Coach, Trip, who will take on a dual role having previously retired from playing. She has a wealth of experience in the Superleague and has also played for the New Zealand A team.

Trip said: “Focusing on a core of more experienced players in Sigi Burger, Grace Namana, Jess Shaw, Gabby Marshall, Bekah Airey and Lucy Herdman, I have surrounded them with a number of exciting fresh faces to the Superleague.

“The team is extremely dynamic and robust, with players that compliment each other, providing us with a number of different styles which we will explore and develop over the coming months. In a new era of netball for the Severn Stars franchise, we are looking forward to a change in direction.

“We have worked hard with our players to support their lives not only on the court, but off the court, which has been reflected by their commitment to our vision, with several players newly relocated to the local area. This allows us to develop with a more hands-on approach, increase connections both on and off the court, reduce travel time and fatigue across the season and will enable us to get the most out of this group across an intense season. We look forward to welcoming the final players to the fold this month and getting stuck in.”

The season is expected to start early next year.

Lerverne Barber, Head of the School of Sport and Exercise at the University of Worcester, owner of the Severn Stars, said: “Having a Superleague team based in Worcester provides opportunities for both fans in the region to enjoy topflight netball and for talented young netballers to reach their full potential. With a new coach and largely new-look squad, the University is looking forward to seeing what this exciting line-up can achieve this season.”