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Nat Metcalf

Nat Metcalf knows Thunder have plenty of work to do to seal the Superleague title. Image: @touchlinepics

Manchester Thunder are just three games from netball greatness and Nat Metcalf couldn’t be prouder of what her team have done on court this term.

Thunder are still unbeaten with just one game left of the regular Vitality Netball Superleague season, and have posted scores of 80 or over on three separate occasions this season as they have taken the league by storm.

Thunder wrapped up top four qualification with plenty of breathing room, but England international Metcalf insists focus is purely on performance as she looks to end her first season back in the UK with a winner’s medal round her neck.

“Making the final four with a few rounds games left was an awesome achievement for us and we know there’s still a long way to go yet,” said Metcalf.

“There’s still a few games to be played and we know it’s going to be challenging but we’re really proud to have made top four and that was something we were striving for.

“From a Thunder perspective, you always want to go in wanting to win as soon as you step onto court but we always want to be able to play the Thunder way and focus on our performance.

“If we play well and do a good job and stick to the task then hopefully the result would speak for itself.

“Of course, there’s always that winning element that we want to achieve but for us it’s always about putting that good performance and then being able to back that up.”

Metcalf returned to Thunder after three years playing for New South Wales Swifts in Australia, but immediately felt the warmth from her new teammates that has helped her on the court in a Superleague that is stronger than ever.

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

“It was so exciting to come back and play with Ellie [Cardwell] again in the circle and many other Thunder players.

“That’s one of the first things I felt when I came into Thunder, just how close the girls are.

“It’s a great place to be, they’re really funny and I think everyone just gels really well. When we are spending time on the bus journeys down south, it’s really nice to be a part of it.”

“Karen [Greig], Gabs [Towell] and Tracey [Neville] have all been brilliant to me and I’m enjoying playing with them all – it’s a very successful club and it’s really cool to be a part of it.”

Despite Thunder’s lofty position atop the Vitality Netball Superleague, Metcalf says her side are always looking for ways to improve and aren’t looking at scorelines.

“I think that when you get to the final four anything can happen so I think for us it’s just exciting to be here,” added Metcalf.

“I want to be able to compete and obviously get to that Grand Final more than anything but for us it’s about focusing on the final game, finding good form, going into the finals and playing a good semi-final and seeing where that takes us.

“Although we are 19 from 19, there is still so much learning and things that we’ve been looking at.

“It’s a credit to the coaches in all honestly, Karen and Tracey go above and beyond in performance analysis, looking at where we need to improve and where we need to clean up in attack so it’s credit to those guys to reviewing games and then looking ahead.”

Metcalf is now one of the senior players on court for both club and country, and it’s something the 29-year-old is embracing as an exciting generation of talent comes through with a huge summer of netball ahead as England defend their Commonwealth Games gold medal.

“I absolutely love it. Our youngsters are so fearless. When they come on court, they just bring great energy, smiles, they are just so fearless in defence and ruthless in attack,” beamed Metcalf.

“I love playing alongside them and they keep me on my toes as well and they’re all just doing phenomenally well.

“I want them all to feel comfortable and know their worth and their value and everything that they bring to the squad, whether it be for the club or the Roses.

“I know as a youngster coming in, I would have loved that support and had that so I was so lucky that I had that as a youngster and be able to give that back the youngster as well.

“There’s so much love for netball out there so we want people to engage with netball, watch it, tune in, listen to it, get involved.

“Having games on the TV, hearing it on the radio and having people fill out arenas and stadiums it’s so exciting and especially after the last few years with the pandemic and everything, it’s something that the country will just love and thrive on and it’s exciting for the netball community.”

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