Surrey Storm are finally ready to challenge at the top of the Netball Super League, according to captain Yasmin Brookes.

Storm are entering their fourth year under player-director of netball Mikki Austin, who has led a rebuild of the franchise, who last claimed the title in 2016.

The Surrey Sports Park side retained a core group of the squad that finished seventh last season and have added marquee signings Layla Guscoth and Sophie Drakeford-Lewis to raise expectations ahead of Saturday’s Season Opener.

“Our whole squad goal is to go for top four this season and we have the ability to achieve that,” said Brookes, who is entering her ninth season at Storm. 

“We have really challenged and pushed ourselves and that top four is up for grabs. 

“It has been a four-year plan and we have been really developing each year, the addition of Layla and Sophie is just incredible. 

“They have really added to the Storm family and I think we have really grown in pre-season; we will be a threat this season, which I am really looking forward to. 

“We know what we need to do to get to that top four.”

The addition of last season’s Player of the Year Guscoth and fellow England international Drakeford-Lewis is a statement of Storm’s unapologetically big ambitions.

Storm have also retained league top scorer Proscovia Peace, while former Super League champions Amy Flanagan and Hannah Knights have also been added to the mix.

It all means that many are tipping Storm to challenge for the play-offs this season, but Austin is not fazed by people talking her side up.

“I don’t feel the pressure, but I feel that we have raised the bar in terms of what we have set for ourselves,” she said. 

“We haven’t shied away from that at all. We have made some incremental changes over the past three years.

“Last year was a massive season, with progress to be proud of, and I think it was a testament to our squad that we were still in contention for that final play-off spot with two or three games to go.  

“We are four years into our five-year plan, and this is the first year people have started to take us seriously in terms of that being an achievable prospect for us.

“It’s about belief. Last year we knew we could be capable if we played really well on our day and that’s why our results were a bit inconsistent. 

“Now it’s about making sure in certain games we can go for the jugular, finding a way to win even on our bad days. 

“I hope that we play a really fierce brand of netball, irrespective of the result we leave our fans feeling like we left everything out there.” 

The 2023 Netball Super League season gets underway on Saturday 11 February, live on Sky Sports. Tickets to games across the season can be found at: //