03 January 2020

Manchester Thunder netball head coach Karen Greig aiming to build on title success

Reigning champions Manchester Thunder's netball head coach Karen Greig wants to recall the 'feelings' from last year's Grand Final and build on them to win back-to-back titles in this year's Superleague campaign. 

Thunder have seen 11 seasons in the Superleague and won their first title since 2014 last year after defeating Wasps 57-52. 

Greig told Sky Sports: "Thunder haven't ever won back-to-back titles before, as we won in 2012, 2014 and then this year just gone.

"We've never been able to back up that win with a win. I think that it's always the most difficult thing to do, to go back-to-back.

"We want to remember those feelings (from the Grand Final) and we want to be able to build on them.

"There’s no point in approaching the season and trying to win back-to-back titles and, thinking that it’s going to be easy. It’s not.

"Ultimately, it's going to be tougher for us to defend our title but it's something that we're going to really give a good go at, and the girls are up for it."

In the summer the Superleague announced a change in the set-up which now means the teams will be playing in an opening round along with the standard 18 rounds. 

But Greig has criticised the new set-up as she believes it will 'impact the rest of the season'.

She said: "I think that it massively impacts the league and could create some kind of imbalance.

"If you look at how the season finished last year, and how close that top four was, the Season Opener could cause some upsets. Hopefully we won't be on the end of that.

"Taking on Wasps three times in the regular season would be tough for anybody.

"We were the only team last year to beat them on all of the occasions that we faced them. It's something that we're going to try and emulate again, but it's going to be no easy feat and something we'll have to be more than prepared to do."

After loosing New Zealand international Liana Leota to Severn Stars, Greig knew she would be tough to replace. But she is confident new signing Ashleigh Neal will make a positive impact. 

"After facing her in the Superleague, Ash is a really smart player and a really good playmaker. I think that she'll give us the cleverness that Liana gave us but she'll also give us a bit more height in there.

"She has given us headaches previously when she's played against us. She's always the one that we've said that we needed to tie down and keep quiet on court.

"So, to have her in our unit and linking in with the likes of Kathryn (Turner), Ellie (Cardwell) and Joyce (Mvula) is great. I do think that our shooting unit is probably the strongest in the league and to have someone like Ash feeding that is an exciting prospect."

Thunder will face Wasps in the Superleague season opener which is set to take place at Arena Birmingham on February 22 and will be streamed live on Sky Sports. 

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