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NSL Grand Final 2023: All about balance for Guscoth as Storm return to the big time

Layla Guscoth has perfected the balance between her day job as a doctor and steering Surrey Storm to the verge of their first Netball Super League Grand Final since 2016.

The 31-year-old won the Player of the Season award last year while at Team Bath and has carried that form into this campaign following her move to Storm, sitting in the top 10 across the league for deflections (80), turnovers (77) and intercepts (36).

A fourth-placed finish has set up a mouth-watering derby against London Pulse in the semi-final on Friday with anaesthetist Guscoth managing to combine sporting excellence and saving lives.

“It is not an easy thing to do, but I like the balance of the two,” she said.

“I think I have got used to it now, to be honest. It has been a number of years that I have balanced the two, but it certainly was hard initially.

“Over time I think have learned what to say no to, what to worry about and what not to worry about.

“We had training this morning but now I am at work, it is just such a contrast, but I think I quite like that change in my life sometimes.

“If I don’t have that, I get a bit engrossed in either thing, so it is nice to have the balance.”

Storm and Pulse have already played out two thrillers this season, with the former coming out on the losing side in a 52-47 defeat at the Copper Box Arena in Round 5.

Round 14 saw Storm push their London rivals to the limit once again but Pulse edged out a 59-50 victory at Surrey Sports Park.

Ahead of the third local derby of the season, Guscoth is hoping Storm can upset the applecart.

She said: “It is really good to be playing a rival in such a big game.

“We knew we weren’t going to get a home semi-final a couple of weeks ago and it is really hard to think about who you want to play. I always think that when it comes to semi-finals it is so different anyway.

“I think the benefit of it being in London means that so many of our friends, family and supporters can come and watch.

“That is really good, and hopefully we can make it feel like we have a lot of Storm fans there.

“A London derby is always great, and the Copper Box is a brilliant place to play in.

“We are obviously there for international matches, and it is a really good place to be, so I am looking forward to it and hoping we can shake things up a bit.”

Storm were on the winning side when they last made it to the Grand Final back in 2016, beating Manchester Thunder 55-53 in a nail-biter to secure back-to-back titles.

The prospect of helping the club return to the big stage is fuelling Guscoth and her teammates but she knows they have a tricky hurdle to clear before they can start dreaming about that.

She added: “It would be great to make the final, I always think the semis feel like the worst match.

“Once you are in the Grand Final you can give it your best shot and do what you can do to get the win, but either way you have a medal at the end of it.

“But I always feel like in the semis, there is so much to lose.

“It would be great personally and great for the club to make the Grand Final, especially having not been there in such a long time.

“It is great for netball to have different teams and different people up there, things get repetitive, it is nice having something different.

“Irrespective of how everything ends, looking back at the season, we set out to get top four and we did that.”

Tickets for Surrey Storm’s semi-final at London Pulse can be bought here.

The Netball Super League Grand Final is being shown live on Sky Sports Arena and YouTube from 1.45pm on Sunday 11 June.

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