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Eboni Usoro-Brown of Team Bath Netball.

Eboni Usoro-Brown is preparing for the start of the Suncorp Super Netball season in Australia – so we grabbed the the Vitality Roses defender to get the lowdown on why the time was right for a new challenge, and her predictions for Round 10.

The former Team Bath defender has moved to Australia with her husband, baby daughter Savannah and her mother as she gets set to play for the Queensland Firebirds this season.

After a whirlwind few weeks she joined Tamsin Greenway and Caroline Barker for the latest episode of Off the Court to look ahead to her Firebirds debut but also to run the rule over events back in the UK where the VNSL season reaches the halfway stage.

Eboni will be keeping us up to date with her adventures in Australia this season with a regular diary on the England Netball website – but we also wanted to get her thoughts on this week’s fixtures in the Superleague.

Leaving Team Bath

It was a huge decision and one that I definitely didn’t take lightly. I’ve been part of Team Bath since I was a young athlete and I’ve always known it as home.

Having come back to the franchise in 2015 after my initial stint in Australia; having captained the team for 6 seasons, especially last season after having Savannah and their support in terms of helping me get back onto court.

Then obviously reaching a Grand Final, I tore my hair out over the benefits against the disadvantages when the opportunity to join the Queensland Firebirds came up.

I mentioned to Anna [Stembridge, Team Bath Head Coach] back in July and Jess [Thirlby, Vitality Roses Head Coach] when she invited me back into the Vitality Roses camp last August that I had ambitions to put my best foot forward for selection for the Commonwealth Games.

Stepping into the unknown

So it was about weighing up as to whether I should step out of my comfort zone of playing in the Vitality Netball Superleague to take up this  opportunity, to really challenge myself, by stepping into the unknown.

To play and train daily, against some of the opposition I may face if selected for the Commonwealth Games like Gretel Bueta, who’s the current starting Australian Diamonds goal shooter and who is currently in the Queensland Firebirds team.

And, before I knew she was pregnant, Romelda Aiken-George, one of the Jamaican Sunshine Girls was an opportunity I had to really consider.

So I made the decision to go, even though I had a lot of doubt as to whether I was doing the right thing! A lot of conversations backwards and forwards were had with the franchise, my husband, my mum, and even with Savannah!

It truly was one of the hardest decisions I have made in my career. Team Bath will always have a special place in my heart, but on this occasion we as a family decided to take a leap of faith.

Life in Australia

One of the most enjoyable experiences has been getting to know Queensland.

I have fond memories of being here on the Gold Coast in 2018 but I think when we came over this time, we said we were going to come to Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) and enjoy this experience for all that it was on and off the court.

I love to explore, and I’m a real adventurer at heart, so when JK (my husband) came over to visit  we made it our mission, in my downtime ,to really throw ourselves into getting to know Queensland and Brisbane in particular. so we’ve held koalas, fed kangaroos, climbed the Story Bridge and visited some of the most spectacular viewpoints.

Every day has been different and again, I’m just thankful to have this opportunity to be able to spend more time with my family and make memories, whilst playing a sport that I love.

You can read more from Eboni Usoro-Brown in her regular column on the England Netball official website

Prediction Time

We couldn’t pass up the opportunity for Eboni to take part in our predictions challenge, although with two games now called off due to positive Covid cases, there’s only three for her to predict.

Leeds Rhinos vs London Pulse – Pulse by 6

Loughborough Lightning vs Manchester Thunder – Thunder by 2

Celtic Dragons vs Surrey Storm – Storm by 8

The story so far….

Quarter Time Podcast set a new target for everybody else with a tremendous performance in Round 5.

Quarter Time Podcast – 33 points (6 games)

Iwan Thomas – 29 points (6 games)

Tamsin Greenway – 27 points (5 games)

Chloe Merrell (The Guardian & The Netball Show – 27 points (6 games)

A reminder of the points system

3 points for the correct outcome

5 bonus points if score prediction is correct

3 bonus points if score prediction is within 1-3 goals

2 bonus points if score prediction is within 4-9 goals

1 bonus point if score prediction is within 10-15 goals

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