Vitality Netball Superleague All Stars focused on communication for Vitality Roses contests

Watch the second match between England’s Vitality Roses and the Vitality Netball Superleague All Stars, live on Sky Sports Arena and Mix from 5.45pm. The match will also be streamed on the Sky Sports YouTube channel for viewers in UK and Ireland

Last Updated: 22/01/21 7:53am

Karen Greig has taken on the role of head coach of the Vitality Netball Superleague All Stars (Credit – Ben Lumley)

Karen Greig focused on communication when bringing together the Vitality Netball Superleague All Stars for their series against England’s Vitality Roses.

The invitational side’s head coach, whose team pushed the Roses on court during their first match in Loughborough, said that selecting the right leadership group was critical ahead of the three-match series.

Greig’s team had just two training sessions together before taking to court for their first contest against England. They arrived in camp on Sunday and met for the first time as a group the following day. Prior to that their communication had all been virtual.

“As you can imagine with all of the restrictions, we’d had to have a few meetings over Zoom first,” Greig said after her side’s 70-54 loss on Wednesday.

“Obviously that isn’t normal when you’re bringing a new group of players together.

“We were really surprised with how vocal a lot of players were and that was the main thing that we were worried about in terms of their communication and connections. But, they’re all here to do a job and ultimately, they all want to go out and put in great performances.”

The Vitality Netball Superleague All Stars and Vitality Roses will play two more matches this week in Loughborough (Credit: Ben Lumley)

The Vitality Netball Superleague All Stars and Vitality Roses will play two more matches this week in Loughborough (Credit: Ben Lumley)

Greig’s team brings together a wealth of international stars from across the Vitality Netball Superleague. They are all first-class players in their own right, however many individuals hadn’t taken to court together as team-mates before.

As a result, Greig felt that strong leadership was vital and gave an insight into her reasoning for selecting Liana Leota as captain, with Sam May and Jo Trip as vice-captain.

Vitality Netball Superleague All Stars Squad

Gezelle Allison Caroline O’Hanlon
Jo Trip (Vice-captain) Joyce Mvula
Loreen Ngwira Natalie Panagarry
Samantha May (Vice-captain) Summer Artman
Fionnuala Toner Gia Abernethy
Liana Leota (captain) Rebekah Robinson
Yasmin Parsons

“When we were making the decision around the leadership group, I wanted the group to be people that I knew were very good at communicating,” the head coach said.

“To be honest, as a coach you’re coming into it a little bit blind really. Although I’ve seen Jo and Sam play for their teams in the Superleague, I’ve never actually worked with them.”

Vitality Netball Superleague All Stars focused on communication for Vitality Roses contests

What Liana puts in, on and off the court, in terms of bringing those girls together is second to none. For me, it was important to have her [leading] and then to have two people who were going to be vocal and supportive of her, in order to get the best out of the team.

Karen Greig about Liana Leota

From the opening moments of the All Stars’ first contest with England, it was clear that Leota was more than up for the challenge of leading her new team by example.

From no-look passes and pinpoint feeds, to incredible athleticism and communication, Leota did it all and implored her team-mates to follow her.

Her vice-captains – Trip and May – were also up for the challenge and together they looked as if they were a seasoned defensive partnership, as opposed to being a brand new one.

“When Karen asked me [to be captain], I sort of didn’t want to take on the role,” Leota admitted on Wednesday after the match.

“Just because I hadn’t played netball since March 2020… I was a bit nervous about being on the court and being in this team.

“Once we entered camp, it’s been really good and the girls have all been so welcoming. We’ve all be learning on the run. It’s been a huge honour to lead the team.

“There were some nerves for sure,” Leota added. “For me, it was not knowing if I could last 15 minutes! With Severn Stars we’ve been doing 10 and 12 minutes, so definitely the legs felt it for the first three quarters.

It was a huge team effort; we all know that we only have each other and, that we don’t have much time together, so we always have to have each other’s’ backs.

Liana Leota

“I think just being out there playing and playing in such a high-intensity match; I’ve not played international netball for five years, so just being able to stay in those moments a bit longer. Personally, I think that I threw too much ball away.

“For the next game, I just need to stay controlled and keep in those moments. I think that the possession game will be big for us.”

Vitality Netball Legends Series – Also streamed on Sky Sports YouTube channel

First Test – Wednesday England 70-54 All Stars
Second Test – Friday Coverage from 5.45pm Sky Sports Arena and Mix
Third Test – Sunday Coverage from 6.15pm Sky Sports Arena

Head coach Greig also concluded that the All Stars had plenty of positives to take from Wednesday’s contest, as well as highlighting an area that she’ll be looking out for on Friday.

“We’ve just come together and some of our players haven’t even played netball since March in terms of match play. I think that there were a few tired legs out there, and minds, at times.

“Moving forwards now, we’ve got to make sure that we’re really looking after the players in those combinations and that we’re making smart decisions in those tired moments.

“I think that it’s all about the connections, I think that you saw for three out of our quarters we actually really pushed that England team. It is just looking at the consistency. When we were good, we were really good and we played some really exciting stuff.”

Watch the second match of the Vitality Netball Legends series on Sky Sports Arena and Mix from 5.45pm. The contest will also be streamed on the Sky Sports YouTube channel.

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