When did you start playing netball and with which team?
I was 11 and I started at school, back in Leicestershire. I then got selected in to the U14 Leicester County squad at 13 and began playing for a local ladies club called Snowys!
When did you decide you could become an elite netballer and did you have to make a choice between netball and any other sport?
From age 11 I had decided that I wanted to play for the England Squad, but it wasn’t until I was about 17 that I started really training properly as I was in the England talent system. I was lucky enough to get picked in the England U19 squad and that made my decision to go to Bath Uni where I could train full time and study. I’d always been sporty: I played football, tennis, table tennis, badminton and hockey to fairly high levels. But netball was always my passion and I ended up gradually giving them all up.
How were the facilities in Delhi for the CWG and what was your hardest game?
The facilities were actually world class. It was such a shame that it got so much negative press as for us the experience, people and venues were incredible. They just do things very differently out there! In terms of matches, OZ and NZ are always the toughest. Prob the Semi against Oz topped it though as that is the stepping stone to the final so there was added pressure. We were so close to both of them and I was pretty gutted we didnt get that win.
How does the coach mentally pysch the team up before the game to get the best out of everyone?
We have an amazing pysch that works with us and as a team we have worked together to find out what works well for us as a group and as individuals. We all genuinely get on in our team and we have alot of fun and it is important we are allowed to express that. We work far better when we are relaxed, and the coach trusts us enough now to let us keep that ‘fun’ environment still knowing that we are completetly committed and focused. So we tend to do our own things in groups or on our own and Sue brings us together for the final couple of minutes to make sure we are all on the same page.
How do you as a player overcome times where you feel that you are not performing your best?
It’s a vicious circle really as when you’re not playing well you become de-motivated and so then you dont want to train and you don’t put 100% in. I have learnt to back myself over the years and be completely honest with my performance. Not everyone will like how you play or what you do so as long as you can look at yourself know your strengths and weaknesses and are able to face them you can get back on track. You don’t just lose your talent over night, you just need to re focus yourself.
How does the ANZ Championship compare to the UK Superleague and would you play in the ANZ Champs again?
The ANZ personally was the best thing that happened to me as a player. I was able to grow and learn without alot of scrutiny and I got to play in every game against the best players in the world. The pressure you are under because the games are so close and because of the media is amazing and can only help you improve. It was incredible and there is a big difference between it and the SL. It is a semi pro league, so everything from the training, the matches, the intensity, the media, the crowds , the venue and the event are a step above. However, it is a great model for us to follow and something to aspire to as I feel SL has the potential to move in the same direction. The one thing I haven’t done in netball is play for an NZ team so that would be great but I doubt it will happen now, just never say never!
Who is the toughest person you’ve played against?
That’s hard as it has changed from season to season and comp to comp. My first game in the SL aged 19 was against Amanda Newton and she ate me alive, I stll remember I shot 26% against her! But as you gain more experience, you don’t fear players you just have a neutral respect for them. Probably the best man on man marker I have played against and was lucky enough to play with in the world team was Aussie player Peta Scholz.
Why do England seem to run out of steam in the last quarter (more often than not) when they play Australia?
Great question! Look to be honest I think we can say now that across the board the player match ups against the ozzie/kiwis/English are pretty even. We are as skilled as them and we are as fit if not fitter. However, we have to look at ourselves and say are we making the right decisions at KEY points. There are opps throughout all games where you get the chance to take the game away or really pressure the opposition. We have not yet learnt to do that and it has been costly. Teams of that quality will always fight back, so no lead is ever great enough, but are we mentally tough enough to turn the ball over in the last dying seconds or all throw one less ball away in the game when it really doesn’t matter, or sink that shot that takes you 3 up with your CP? It again comes down to honesty, understanding crucial points in the game and then executing them. It will come…just in time for World Champs!!