Professional approach from Leeds Rhinos impresses England Roses star Jade Clarke

Impressed: Jade Clarke. Picture: Getty ImagesImpressed: Jade Clarke. Picture: Getty Images
Impressed: Jade Clarke. Picture: Getty Images
Record England Roses appearance-maker Jade Clarke believes the growing professionalism of Leeds Rhinos is one of the biggest achievements of the club’s first year in netball’s Vitality Superleague.

The much-travelled Clarke has racked up 169 caps with England and played for teams in home country and in the ANZ (Australia-New Zealand).

She joined the fledgling Leeds Rhinos for their inaugural season to help grow a culture and a team, and has been amazed at the rapid development, on and off the court.

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Dan Ryan takes a lot of the plaudits, the club’s Australian head coach who has brought a professional mentality from his homeland.

Young stars -  Vicki Oyesola of Leeds Rhinos (Picture: Jan Kruger/Getty Images for Vitality Netball Superleague)Young stars -  Vicki Oyesola of Leeds Rhinos (Picture: Jan Kruger/Getty Images for Vitality Netball Superleague)
Young stars - Vicki Oyesola of Leeds Rhinos (Picture: Jan Kruger/Getty Images for Vitality Netball Superleague)

But Clarke believes the players should take a lot of the credit.

“This generation of players coming through just do things so naturally, they care about each other, they’ve got so much respect,” said Clarke, whose team face leaders Bath at the Copper Box Arena tomorrow, hoping to extend their three-game winning run.

“They’ve made my job so much easier on and off the court. We’ve got players like Brie Grierson and Rhea Dixon who have not had much court time before this season, but you watch them on the court now and you’d think they’d been out there for 10 years, leading the way and making my job easier. It’s nice to see young players thriving.

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“Dan and Maggie (Birkinshaw) are doing a brilliant job leading the sessions. Sarah Whitehead is our strength and conditioning coach, if we need an extra session she’s there, extra weight sessions, she even comes to the games to monitor us.

“It feels a lot more professional than what I’d experienced before.

“Dan has tried to set it up as close to that Australian environment as he could. The limiting factors over here is that unless you’re in the England team, everybody works full-time, or studies full-time.

“That just shows how committed these girls are; they’ll get up at six and do their training, then go and either work or study for the day.

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“We’ve got accountants in the team, people doing engineering degrees at Loughborough – people are sacrificing a lot to train like professionals, I’ve got the ultimate respect for them.”

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