Rhinos add Smith subject to visa
Nicola Smith to their squad for the 2023 Vitality Netball Superleague season, subject to visa approval.
The exciting young defender who was one of the star players for South Africa in this year’s Commonwealth Games will join the Rhinos for pre-season at the beginning of next year following commitments with the South African national team.
The 22-year-old, who plays goal defence and goal keeper, started playing netball aged seven and made her provincial School’s team by the age of 13 and the national School’s Team in High School. She then gained her first international honors, representing the South African Under-21 side at 19.
In 2019 she began her studies in Education at the University of Stellenbosch and played for their university team that competed in the Varsity Netball competition. She helped the side reach the final for the first time in four years and Smith made a big impact in the game, winning the Interceptor of the Match Award.
In 2020 she attended trials for her provincial teams, the Southern Stings, and made the squad that would compete against 12 provincial sides in a two-week Telkon Netball League. Smith made a big impact on the side who progressed through to the semi-finals and was named Defender of the Tournament.
During this tournament she gained the attention from the international selectors again and was invited to trial for the Spar Proteas and was selected for the a three-match series against Malawi, making her debut in a 62-29 victory.
In 2022 she was one of 24 athletes to ever be given a contract by South Africa. She played in the three games in the Northern Quad Series and was selected for the Commonwealth Games squad and played in all six games for her team and recorded seven rebounds, five intercepts and 17 deflections.
Speaking about joining Rhinos Netball, Smith said: “ I can’t wait to head overseas next year and play for the Rhinos, it’s actually always been a dream for me to play in another country and get that experience so I can’t wait to get over there and see what’s in the future for me and I will be working hard to make an impact for my new club.
“I want to grow as a player, so this is a big opportunity for me and it will good to work with players from other countries as well and see what structure they have so I can learn from them and continue to develop. I would like to thank my agent Meg for believing in me and for making this possible.”
Leeds Rhinos head coach Liana Leota added: “Nicola is a promising young player from South Africa and there are big raps on her shoulders for the future. She’s a 6ft 2ins goal defence and goal keeper, so another huge body on that court, but she has such great energy and loves netball and people and I am really keen to work with her.”
Nicola is the eleventh player to be confirmed for the Rhinos for the 2023 Vitality Netball Superleague season. She joins Brie Grierson, Vicki Oyesola, Michelle Magee, Rosie Harris, Nia Jones, Caroline O’Hanlon, Mille Sanders, Paige Reed, Ellie Bird and Elle McDonald.