Jump to main content
Jemma Donoghue is embracing her UK roots

It took just six days for Jemma Donoghue to pack up her life and move halfway around the world.

The 21-year-old Australian signed for Leeds Rhinos in March this year, touching down in Yorkshire less than one week after receiving the initial email from head coach Liana Leota.

The former Giants defender has already made quite an impression after her fast-paced introduction to the Netball Super League.

“I got an email from Liana on Wednesday, had a video call with her on Friday, and my plane tickets were booked on Saturday to fly Monday,” said Donoghue, who was born in the UK.

“I’m a person that loves to plan so it was such an unexpected thing for me to do.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Jemma Donoghue (@jemmadonoghue)

“But it was an opportunity that I thought might never come again so I had to take it.

“I was welcomed in by the girls so quickly and I think I’ve fit in really well.

“The SSN season literally started the week after I left to come to the UK and I knew that I was probably going to get less court time for Giants.

“The timing was perfect to come over here and challenge myself against a range of new players and styles of play.”

Donoghue’s Yorkshire-specific journey is fuelled by a familial love story – the defender’s English parents first met whilst studying at the University of Sheffield.

“We used to come to Manchester quite a bit to visit my grandparents when I was younger, but I didn’t realise how close Sheffield was to Leeds until recently,” she said.

“I passed the station on a train the other week and messaged my parents saying, ‘Why didn’t you tell me Sheffield was so close?’


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Jemma Donoghue (@jemmadonoghue)

“It’s pretty cool and my dad took me and my sister there recently which was really nice.

“I’ve enjoyed exploring Leeds, it’s such a cool place and if I hadn’t been given this opportunity, I don’t know whether I would have ever come here, so I’m really grateful I’ve been able to see this side of the world.”

Her family ties to England are also the reason Donoghue plays netball in the first place.

Inspired by her mum’s own netball career in Bury, the youngster joined forces with some of her friends in Australia to set up a team.

“My mum used to play netball over here so when I was in Australia my school friends and I actually started our own team and my mum was the coach,” she said.

“That was when I fell in love with the sport.

“But my pathway was not actually that smooth sailing.

“I was quite short until I was 15 or 16 and I grew really late so I played centre court and there’s such a huge pool of midcourters that I never really had the chance to get scouted.

“I shifted to goal defence and wing defence as I grew and that’s when I started to get picked.

“But all of those setbacks and not getting picked at trials is what gave me the resilience and determination I have today.”


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Jemma Donoghue (@jemmadonoghue)

The defender made her debut for Rhinos against Team Bath and was among the replacements as her side pushed reigning champions Manchester Thunder all the way last weekend.

Donoghue received her first Australia Under-21 call-up aged 19 before joining the Giants, making her SSN debut against an England netball icon.

“My highlight of the SSN would be my debut as we played against the New South Wales Swifts, so it was the NSW derby,” she said.

“I played the second half as goal defence against Helen Housby which was such a big start to my career.

“Helen might have Aussie links now but she has an English style of play so she set me up for coming over here.

“In the NSL, I think you have to be a bit smarter as to how you’re contesting balls as a defender.

“At Rhinos, we haven’t had as much success as we wanted this year but I really think we’re getting overlooked.

“We can contest on those big stages and I think that the game against Manchester Thunder clearly showed that.

“We just have little lapses in concentration and that’s what is killing us. I think once we figure out what our playing style is, we’ll be pretty unstoppable.”

Follow the Netball Super League on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok. Keep up with all the latest news by signing up to the NSL newsletter here.


Previous Story Netball Super League Round 16: Teams clinch top four finishes
Next Story Rachael Fee replaces Lucy Herdman in Stars squad

More News

Jemma Donoghue is embracing her UK roots
8 hours ago

Where to Watch: Round 10

Reading: 6 mins
Ellie Ervine
1 day ago

Non-stop Ellie Ervine relishing role at Team Bath

Reading: 4 mins
Jemma Donoghue is embracing her UK roots
1 day ago

Vote for your favourite players: Win tickets to the NSL Grand Final 2024!

Reading: 1 min
Nicola Smith
16th Apr 2024

Nicola Smith already at home in Loughborough

Reading: 4 mins
Funmi Fadoju leans ove to defend against Ine-Marie Venter
16th Apr 2024

Round 9: Pulse earn thrilling win over Mavericks

Reading: 5 mins

Google Ad – MPU – Right Column