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Loughborough Lightning vs Leeds Rhinos 04/04/2022.

The Vitality Netball Superleague is primed for a bumper weekend, with 10 games taking place in Birmingham as part of the Spring Showdown.

All 11 teams will be on court across Saturday and Sunday as the season heads towards its final rounds with lots still to play for.

We’re back with predictions for these crucial round of fixtures with England Rugby scrum-half Natasha ‘Mo’ Hunt, who was an avid baller growing up before making the switch to rugby.

Mo is part of the England side currently unbeaten in the 2022 TikTok Women’s Six Nations, and spoke to us about all things netball and rugby as well as giving us those all-important predictions.

Growing up a baller

Though Hunt ended up playing rugby at the highest level, the 33-year-old played a whole range of sports growing up including netball.

“It was my main sport until I was about 17, 18,” said Hunt.

“I trained with the same girls four times a week, trained with them, grew up with them.

“It’s just a brilliant sport. I think sometimes I was probably fitter when I played netball than what I’m doing now which is just crazy to think about.”

Hunt has been capped 57 times for England but credits playing a range of sports growing up as a key factor in her progress.

“When you’re a young athlete, the more sports you can do, the better it’s going to be for you,” she added.

“The ability to be able to take skills from one sport into the other; I played football, I played netball, I played tennis.

“To be able to play all of that is super important when you’re a young kid growing up, especially if you don’t know what sport you want to actually go into.

“I would have loved to have stayed in netball, to see how far I could go but height was always an issue, it was literally what I got told, so it’s important that you try everything, you enjoy what you’re doing and the right path will find you.”

Hunt is well known in the rugby world as a quick and agile scrum-half, and the Gloucester-Hartpury player believes a much of that is thanks to her netball days.

She said: “I think the one thing netball has given me is that spatial awareness and the ability to read a game because especially at the higher levels, you have to be really on it with where you think the next play is going to go not necessarily what is happening now.

“That ability to read games, notice people’s body language and read cues is probably the one thing that netball has given me.

“And then the hand-eye coordination, to just be able to sight where that ball is going and pluck it out the air.”

Growth of women’s sport

England are fresh off the back of a 58-5 victory over Wales in front of more than 14,000 fans at Gloucester’s Kingsholm, and Hunt was effusive in how much of an impact the crowd had.

“It’s amazing, you can really feel them,” added Hunt, who was part of England’s World Cup-winning side in 2014 and will be hoping to repeat the feat later this year in New Zealand.

“People are really invested in women’s sport at the moment and it’s amazing to see.

“Netball has had some brilliant crowds as well, when the Roses play people really get behind it and it is something special to be able to play in front of that many people and thinking they’re actually here just to cheer us.

“Gloucester was something special, I never thought I’d have the opportunity to run out there in front of so many people. So close to home it was incredible.”

“I can’t really quantify it, it was next level.”

Going for glory

Hunt’s England side have two games remaining in their TikTok Women’s Six Nations campaign, with a home game against Ireland before travelling away to France, and there is no sign of let-up from the Red Roses despite their strong start.

“The girls are feeling good, feeling prepped and excited to go for the next challenge but we know we need to put up a show in Leicester and France away is a huge game.

“We know that we need to be on it and we’re working harder than ever in training.”

Prediction Time

Finally, we got Mo to give us her predictions ahead of the Spring Showdown this weekend, with lots of tough calls in there.

Loughborough Lightning v Surrey Storm – Storm

Leeds Rhinos v Celtic Dragons – Rhinos

Manchester Thunder v Strathclyde Sirens – Thunder

Wasps v London Pulse – Pulse

Saracens Mavericks v Severn Stars – Mavericks

Team Bath Netball v Leeds Rhinos – Rhinos

Celtic Dragons v Loughborough Lightning – Lightning

Surrey Storm v Manchester Thunder – Thunder

London Pulse v Saracens Mavericks – Mavericks

Severn Stars v Wasps – Stars

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