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Quashie back shining in the NSL and picked among the Roses

Saracens Mavericks star Razia Quashie needs no reminder that lightning can unfortunately strike twice.

The 25-year-old saw her 2021 season curtailed by an Achilles injury and devastatingly her 2022 campaign ended in exactly the same manner, leaving no guarantee that she would play at all in 2023.

But, having battled back once before, Quashie is clearly no stranger to perseverance and has fought her way back on court, and it has been some return so far.

Her comeback has been celebrated with adulation and a place in the Roses cohort for the 2023-4 season – defying the low expectations she understandably held.

“I think it’s always really hard coming back from injury, especially a bilateral injury,” she said.

“I’ve had such good support around me and people with me every step of the way, and it has meant I’ve enjoyed coming back and having these last few weeks with Mavericks.

“I didn’t have any expectations really, and I definitely didn’t put any expectations on myself on coming back.

“I’m very happy I’m still able to play netball. That was one of my biggest worries, after being told I might not even be back for this season.

“To be playing eight games and starting, playing really good minutes, I’m really proud of that. Although I know I’m not where I want to be, I know there’s more to come and I can’t wait for that.”

So far her return has been a successful one, but recent years have taken both a physical and mental toll.

The fear of more injury heartache has left her occasionally nervous and hesitant on court, while her training and pre-match preparations are more demanding – and essential – than ever.

She added: “There’s always that mental strain, that cautious side of playing netball. You start doubting yourself and mentally I’m probably the weakest I’ve been, across the past season.

“I’m one of those defenders who puts everything on the line for my team to ensure that we win, and I think after these injuries there’s something in the back of my head where I’m a bit more cautious, and very selective of what steps I go for.

“Once I’m happy with my physical aspect of it, being back on court and being happy with it, I think that cautiousness will go away and I will play with a level of freedom that I want to be playing with.

“After a training week, I do stiffen up and have to spend a little extra time taking care and making sure I recover properly. Most girls don’t have to do that.

“Even when I was younger, I could join the warm-up without stretching but now I have a good half an hour of trying to prepare my body for the event that’s about to take place. That’s such a massive difference in my preparation for games now.

“There’s quite a lot of stuff that I have to do off court just to be able to step on court, train and actually play – it’s now a way of life.”

Throughout all her recent struggles Mavericks have stood by her side, becoming a second family for her during her journey from the pathway programme to the senior set-up.

“For me it’s been one hell of a journey,” she continued. “They’ve been with me every step of the way, whether I’ve been injured or not. We’re just one big family and I think that’s one big reason why I keep signing the contract every year.

“This is what I love to see and I love to be a part of, and I can’t imagine myself anywhere else. If someone else offered me to be part of a similar set-up I don’t think I would move anywhere.”

Now Quashie has come back at club level, it is a return to the international fold that she is targeting.

Despite her back-to-back injuries, she has been kept on as part of the Vitality Roses senior programme once again, and she is determined to prove herself on the world stage.

“It’s been a weird time for me, obviously being out of the international window for two seasons now,” she admitted. “I’m eager to get back on it and I can’t wait to see what I can do.

“When you’ve missed or been away from the sport for a while you’ve got girls who have levelled up, who have matured, changed and improved so much.

“You’re never really tested unless you come out on the international scene and it’ll be a good measure to see how I am coming back from rehab.

“I’m excited to almost bring them that level of disruption I know I can and I’m really excited to get selected on tours – and hopefully get back in that red dress.”

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