Sirens netball franchise signs trio of international stars

Carla Borrego, Althea Byfield and Ellen Halpenny join Scots for Vitality Superleague

THE newly-formed Scottish Sirens, who will compete in netball’s Vitality Superleague for the first time in the new year, have unveiled three experienced imports to complement the eight Scots and one Northern Ireland player in the side.

Jamaicans, Carla Borrego and Althea Byfield are joined by New Zealand star Ellen Halpenny, who will add vital experience to the squad.

All three have played at international level and in the fiercely competitive ANZ championship

A former member of Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls netball team, before she moved to Florida to play women’s basketball, 6ft 4in tall Borrego became an Australian citizen in 2015.

After a successful seven years where she became the Adelaide side’s greatest ever goal shooter, a third knee operation, forced her retiral this summer, a move that turned out to be premature.

At the time she ruled out a comeback, but know, after a lengthy rest for the first time in her career, she is ready to bring her superb shooting talents to the Emirates.

She said in June: “It’s tough, anybody (who) knows me (knows) I get white line fever. I love the pushing and shoving, the rush of adrenaline, and I’m going to have to find a way to get rid of it now that netball is finished.

“But I do know this is something I need to do, my body has made this decision and it is a bit tough to confront it but it’s a decision that has to be made.

However, she did not rule out a comeback and she is now set to be a crowd-pleaser yet again, this time at the Emirates Arena.

She describes herself as “a versatile player, very passionate and committed to getting the win”.

Halpenny, who leaves Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic, won silver with the Silver Fens at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. She said: “Looks like I will be mixing things up next year. So excited to finally announce I will be joining the Scottish sirens. A new challenge ahead.”

Althea Byfield, who has won 112 caps for Jamaica who are currently ranked fourth in the world, is also expected to be an influential addition to the squad. She will lead the defence, supported by Scot Rachel Forbes who returns from Australia to take her place as a Siren in the team’s debut season. Caroline O’Hanlon from Northern Ireland joins Scotland’s national Captain Claire Brownie in the mid-court.

Byfield is currently in Australia where she will captain Jamaica for the first time in the Fast5 World Netball Series. A gifted all-round athlete, she earned a track and field scholarship before heading to Texas to play basketball.

Dedicated to raising the profile of Jamaican netball, she is likely to have a similar impact when she arrives in Glasgow.

The Sirens, who are supported by the University of the West of Scotland (UWS), aim to make a big impact in their home at the £113 million pound Emirates Arena in Glasgow.

Netball Scotland Ceo Claire Nelson said: “We have worked hard to bring together this amazing team of players and back room staff. I’d like to thank my team and our sponsors for their support. Sirens are here, ready for action and most definitely ready to change the game, not just for netball, for women’s sport as a whole. We are so looking forward to the start of the season so we can show just what this team is made of.”

Professor Craig Mahoney, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of UWS, said: “The introduction of the Sirens franchise to the Vitality Netball Superleague is a hugely important development not just for netball but for sport, especially women’s sport, across Scotland.

“We are absolutely delighted that UWS will be playing such an important role in supporting this development and in creating success for the team over the coming seasons. The Sirens comprise an incredible group of athletes who I am sure will make a huge impact on the league when it gets underway in February. We share the team’s vision of excellence and ambition to establish Scottish netball as world leading.”

The full Sirens squad is:

Shooters: Carla Borrego,  Ellen Halpenny, Bethan Goodwin, Lynsey Gallagher.

Midcourt: Claire Brownie,  Caroline O’Hanlon,  Fiona Moore-McGrath, Nicola McCleery

Defence: Althea Byfield, Rachel Forbes, Lauren Tait, Savannah Antoine

Head Coach: Gail Parata

Support Coaches: Jill Fullarton, Lesley MacDonald

Franchise Director: Karen McElveen