New-look Leeds Rhinos Netball are targeting the top four says Rhea Dixon

Leeds Rhinos Netball might be a new team this year but attacker Rhea Dixon is positive this new dynamic will be the key to their 2022 Superleague success.

By Megan Armitage
Saturday, 18th December 2021, 5:45 am

The Vitality Netball Superleague returns with a season opener event on February 5-6 where Rhinos will take on 2021 winners Loughborough Lightning.

Dixon, 23, is one of only a few returnees to the squad this season, which has also seen Maggie Birkenshaw take on the role of head coach.

“To build from the ground up for us has been awesome and to make it our own in that sense is exciting,” said Dixon, who plays goal shooter and goal attack.

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Rhea Dixon is looking forward to a big season for Leeds Rhinos in the Superleague. Picture: Morgan Harlow/Getty Images.

“We aren’t the same team as last year and a lot of things have changed but we wanted to make sure the new girls are as much of a part of this Rhinos team as the rest of us returners.”

Taking their pre-season week by week, Rhinos have seen several injuries during their three warm-up games so far but are working towards returning to the top again after finishing fourth during their Superleague debut last year.

“We want to be pushing that top four and we won’t be taking any steps backwards,” said Dixon, who generated international success this year playing for the England Roses.

“We’ve definitely grown every game and it’s been really cool to see the gains we’re making from training and being able to put that into match play.”

Rhea Dixon in action for Leeds Rhinos last season. Picture: Morgan Harlow/Getty Images.

Rhinos recently announced that they will be taking their home games to the fans in 2022, travelling between Leeds, Sheffield, and Hull to showcase the sport.

“At first I thought that being based just in Leeds would have been great, but after our first year and going out to different camps across the region, it was made really clear that there is so much hunger for netball all around,” added Dixon, who has led several shooting camps for netball fans this year.

“I feel that it’s only fair to showcase that to different parts of Yorkshire and if we were based just in Leeds then people would find it a lot harder to see us play live.

“We’re so fortunate to have a professional league up here so as a player it’s great to see so many netball fans and people who are keen and eager to learn.”

Leeds Rhinos players in the huddle before their Picture: Chloe Knott/Getty Images.

After their head coach Dan Ryan left the club at the end of last season, assistant coach Birkenshaw stepped in to take over as caretaker.

Keeping a similar pre-season structure to usual, Dixon has complemented Birkenshaw’s energy and experience in leading the squad.

“Mags brings a completely different experience than Dan, she’s much more defensive in her play and that is something that us as attackers needed to work on.

“She definitely brings a different energy,” said Dixon.

“I just love being part of the Rhinos environment, being able to use the resources that rugby already has and the business and staffing side as well.

“It’s been awesome to come into this professional environment.”