Saracens Mavericks v Leeds Rhinos Netball: Rivals offer a measure of Rhinos’ progression

A fixture against the team directly above them tomorrow will be the perfect gauge of how equipped Leeds Rhinos Netball are to achieve their objective in the second half of their maiden Vitality Superleague season.

CHALLENGE: Leeds Rhinos Netball head coach Dan Ryan. Picture: Tony Johnson.

The elite-tier rookies sit sixth out of 11 teams after the first half of the campaign, having beaten every team below them, but lost to each of the five above.

Saracen Mavericks are fifth and, while seven points better off than Dan Ryan’s team, they represent the perfect challenge.

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Ryan has already stated that he wants his girls to topple a couple of the top-five teams in the second half of the season, and they are also motivated for tomorrow’s game (4pm) by the fact that when they first played the Mavericks in week two they lost three of their players.

EXPERIENCE: Leeds Rhinos Netball's Tuaine Keenan. Picture: Tony Johnson.

Donnell Wallam, Fi Toner and Tuaine Keenan are all back now and Ryan said: “It’s a great opportunity for us. That was the game back in round two where three of our players went down injured, and we only lost that game by four goals. We went goal for goal with them.

“To have a team at full strength available is a really good position for us to be in.

“It’s an important game for us in the context of our season but we need to stick to task on our processes and hope they’re robust and good enough to see if we can reverse the result of last time.”

Superleague action moves to the Copper Box Arena in London this weekend after the first nine weeks were staged at Studio 001 in Wakefield.

Rhinos will not have to be based in London to play in the league bubble, but can travel back and forth to the games.

The new surroundings will be another test of this fledgling operation’s adaptability and professionalism, something that continues to impress Ryan.

“It’s one of the biggest wins we’ve had, the growth and development that has happened in the individuals within the team setting has been really pleasing,” said Ryan.

“That was all part of the philosophy, to provide the platform for the athletes to become as professional as they could with all the resources they needed and for that to be transferred in the way they perform on the court.

“We’ve seen that in the first half of the season and, hopefully, that can continue in the second half.”