Vitality Roses’ most-capped player, Jade Clarke, has made history by becoming the first-ever player to sign for Leeds Rhinos Netball.
Clarke, who plays centre and wing defence, joins the new Vitality Netball Superleague franchise on a one-year contract from Wasps Netball.
The 36-year-old was part of the all-conquering Vitality Roses team at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. She made her Vitality Roses debut against New Zealand in 2002 and has gone on to play 176 times for her country.
Speaking about joining the Rhinos, Clarke said: “I am excited to be joining Leeds Rhinos Netball ahead of their first ever Superleague season. This is an opportunity to be part of something new and to build our own culture and environment.
“This is a chance for me to work with different players, to learn from them and also to help them grow. I am hoping I can build relationships with young Roses players and to be a role model for the youngsters in the area and help grow the pool of talent.
“I am hoping I can build relationships with young Roses players and be a role model for youngsters” – Clarke
“I am also looking forward to working with Dan Ryan again, who I know from my time at Adelaide Thunderbirds. He is a creative coach and I know he is building something special at Leeds and I can’t wait to get started.”
The Rhinos will become Clarke’s ninth professional club and her experience will be a huge asset to Dan Ryan as he builds his new team to enter the Superleague 2021 competition.
Starting her career with Loughborough, the Manchester-born player has played at the highest level in three different countries. After four seasons with Lightning and a spell with Manchester Thunder, she joined the ANZ Premiership with Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic and two years later moved to Northern Mystics.
In 2013 she joined Canterbury Tactix and that season was named their Player of the Year before signing for Australian side NSW Swifts in 2015 and then Adelaide Thunderbirds, where she first worked with Dan Ryan. She retuned to the Vitality Netball Superleague to join Wasps in 2018, where she won the VNSL title.
On the international scene, Clarke has appeared in four Commonwealth Games and five Netball World Cups. She won a Commonwealth Games bronze medal in 2006 and 2010 and then, in her 150th appearance for the Roses, she was part of the side who defeated Australia to win the Commonwealth Games gold in 2018.
Last year, she represented her country in the Vitality Netball World Cup 2019 on home soil and played in every game of the tournament to win her third World Cup bronze medal.
Dan Ryan, High Performance Director & Superleague Head Coach at Leeds Rhinos Netball, said: “Jade is an absolute legend of the sport and her longevity to stay at the top of her game for so long, is simply inspiring. We are incredibly proud to have her sign with us as an inaugural Leeds Rhinos athlete.
“Jade brings with her so much valuable experience and knowledge and I know she’s going to have a positive impact in driving performance standards and helping to build a really successful team culture in our foundation year.
“Jade’s an absolute workhorse, her dedication and drive is unrivalled and her professionalism is always first class. She is one of the most respected individuals in netball and I can’t wait to work with her again and see what we can all create and achieve together in 2021.”
To keep up to date on all the VNSL signings and news be sure to follow @NetballSL on Twitter and Instagram. You can also see a comprehensive overview of 2021 squads on the Superleague’s Transfers page throughout the signing window.