Shadine back at Thunder for third season
South African stalwart Shadine van der Merwe has confirmed she will return for her third season back in black and yellow. A key member of the Manchester Thunder defensive unit, van der Merwe is the final signing in a defence full of experience alongside Kerry Almond, Ella Bowen and Josie Huckle.
Despite a couple of frustrating seasons interrupted by injury, van der Merwe showed her class when on court and became highly influential in the dressing room. With a load management programme in place, head coach Karen Greig will be looking to get the best out of the South African this season. Following an intense Netball World Cup on home soil as part of the South African squad in Cape Town, the dominant defender is enjoying some downtime before joining up with the Thunder squad.
When asked about her experience, van der Merwe said, “The World Cup was just amazing. I think being able to represent your country on home soil was really special and the fact my friends, my family and my brothers were there, my heart was really full. When we stepped on the court, the fans were very loud, so the experience was amazing, not just for South Africa but for netball in Africa, and it was a great experience.”
Looking back on the season, she said, “It was exciting, compared to the last so-called perfect season, I still really enjoyed this year because I had Lenize [Potgieter] with me all the time and we shared a house so that was nice having a South African friend with me. But on court most of the girls have gone through the Manchester Thunder pathway and that helped a lot as everyone just knew how Thunder plays. Even though we didn’t win, we still got a bronze medal which was a good ending, showing we are still in that top four position. Even though people underestimated us at the start of the season, it was nice to know that we showed there is a Thunder way.”
Head Coach and Franchise Director, Karen Greig, said, “I’m delighted to welcome Shadine back to Thunder. After 2 seasons with us she has really cemented herself as a crowd favourite with her dogged style of defence and ability to win ball in critical moments. Shads was a great addition to the leadership group last season as we continued to evolve our Team culture. I’m looking forward to having Shadine back with us in Manchester soon.”
Van der Merwe commented on improvements she’s made after previously getting though an ACL injury, representing her country and playing in leagues such as the Australian Suncorp Super Netball League, “I’ve learnt to always embrace the moment and knowing how to deal with big pressure matches. Coming up against the best players in the world is about how you step on court and present yourself and for me I learnt how to bring a lot of energy on court this year, and that is always something I’ll bring to Thunder this season.”
She added, “What I really enjoy about the UK Super league is how it has developed over the years and how it has got more competitive. So many England Roses players deciding to stay and play in the UK is a big boost and a positive for the league and there are a lot of youngsters coming through which is exciting.”