Mavericks ready to battle for play-offs says boss as league gets ‘stronger and stronger’

PUBLISHED: 06:01 19 February 2020

Saracens Mavericks' director of netball Kat Ratnapala during the pre-season friendly with Wasps. Picture: STEVE PORTER

Saracens Mavericks' director of netball Kat Ratnapala during the pre-season friendly with Wasps. Picture: STEVE PORTER

Steve Porter

Kat Ratnapala admits the Netball Superleague is getting stronger by the season but admits she is “excited” by what could lie ahead for Saracens Mavericks.

The Hatfield-based side kick off their year against Seven Stars at Arena Birmingham, part of an opening day bonanza with all five games played one after the other.

Netball is enjoying a boom once again thanks partly to the success of the national teams at the Commonwealth Games and World Cup.

And with rugby giants like Saracens and Wasps already on board, and Leeds Rhinos to follow next year, the standard in the domestic league is only going to get better according to the Mavs director of netball.

"The league and the level of competition has gone from strength to strength," she said.

"Having a salary cap for all of the clubs has been really positive and clubs are being a bit more savvy with who they are bringing in and their import player.

"I've been lucky to keep most of our squad together, that's really positive.

"Our first game with Severn Stars is a little bit unknown because they have pulled out in a lot of strength from different places.

"We are just looking after ourselves and making sure we're sticking to our own game plan."

The new signings to the squad have been complemented by the improvements seen in the Mavericks' own young talent in the pathway squads.

And Ratnapala wants to ride that optimistic wave all the way to the play-offs.

She said: "We've brought Jodie Gibson and Chloe Essam into our squad and they have made a really positive impact.

"We've also had players stepping up from our pathway, Aliyah Zaranyika is doing some fantastic stuff, Paige McCalla too.

"There's an air of excitement among the players and through our volunteers and everyone is working together.

"Netball is an exciting place to be for us as we enter a new era for the sport and hopefully we are making it more professional as we go on."

A sign of the improved times for the sport and the club has been the investment of big sponsors, Nike and Euronics both joining the Mavericks family.

"Having Nike and the big brands like Euronics in a club like ours, one that has been volunteer-based for a number of years, is fantastic," she said.

"It's an exciting time at the moment but we need to make sure we don't get too carried away and we still put in the effort on the court and in the gym so we hit the games hard and have a good season."

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