Northumbria and Northern Ireland in Netball Superleague partnership

By Joe TownsendBBC North East & Cumbria Sport
Northumbria will be 'more competitive'

Team Northumbria have agreed a deal for Netball Northern Ireland players to play for the club in the Superleague.

Kate Carpenter becomes dual head coach, but she will stay in Belfast to train only the Northern Irish players.

The rest will work under assistant Lisa Stanley-Craig in Newcastle, with the players coming together on match days.

"We can't sign England players who have to spend time in Manchester, London or Bath at a performance centre," head of sport Colin Stromsoy told BBC Sport.

"So this relationship will be huge in making us a more competitive team."

Northumbria finished bottom of the Superleague table in 2013, and began the new season with a

Only five of last year's squad of 15 remain at Sport Central, with seven of the new team from Northern Ireland.

For those seven, the deal marks the start of a big year as they will compete at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow this July.

"Northern Ireland will get a high level of competition leading into the Commonwealths and they wouldn't ordinarily get that by playing for their clubs at home," Stromsoy continued.

"But as I stressed earlier, it is a long-term programme that can really help us perform better as a team. We have to be honest, what we were doing previously hasn't worked."