Nat Metcalf

Manchester Thunder’s Metcalf lauds growth of Vitality Netball Superleague

Having seen how they do things Down Under, Manchester Thunder kingpin Natalie Metcalf paid tribute to the rapid growth of the Vitality Netball Superleague.

Metcalf, née Haythornthwaite, returned to the north-west at the start of this season having spent three years playing in New South Wales.

The 29-year-old, a key figure in the Roses’ storied Commonwealth triumph in 2018, has seen the country’s top flight come on leaps and bounds.

“Coming back to the UK was a huge decision and the Thunder girls just welcomed me back with open arms,” she said.

“I think the biggest difference for me is that it was full-time in (Australia) and it was my job, whereas here the times can be different.

“But we’ve got a really good programme at Thunder, I’m really enjoying the set-up and it’s really cool to be a part of it.

“When I started playing Superleague we were in a sports hall and it was three rows of fans – my mum was probably one of them!

“Now we’re filling out arenas and it’s amazing to see everyone coming back and celebrating netball.”

Metcalf has spearheaded an incredible campaign for Thunder who have won 20 out of 20 regular season games, the first team since 2015 to go unbeaten.

That has delivered them to a semi-final clash with five-time winners Team Bath on Friday, followed by the Grand Final on Sunday at London’s Copper Box.

Metcalf’s role has been to feed the fire of shooters Joyce Mvula, Eleanor Cardwell and Lois Pearson, who have been in record-breaking form.

Thunder broke the Superleague scoring barrier with 88 against Wasps, but their wing attack  is keen they don’t go chasing records.

“I know people have said that we’re going to get to 90, but honestly for us it’s about the process,” said Metcalf.

“It’s about making sure that when we win the ball we’re looking after it and when we’ve got the ball in our hands, we’re taking it through to goal.

“If we happen to put big numbers on the scoreboard that’s a bonus but for us it’s about that hard work and hard yards for the full 60 minutes and trying to get that win.”

Who will be crowned champions? Vitality Netball Grand Final 2022 takes place at London’s Copper Box Arena this Sunday 5 June. Get your tickets here

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