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NSL Grand Final 2023: The netball break that supercharged Williams’ season

Loughborough Lightning defender Fran Williams has revealed how a netball break supercharged her season and led to World Cup selection.

The 25-year-old was forced to rethink after missing out on England’s squad for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, instead watching from the stands in Birmingham.

Now, Williams will take on Manchester Thunder in the Netball Super League semi-finals this Friday after a string of starring performances which also secured her seat on the plane to South Africa.

“Selections are tough in our sport and you’re not going to be selected every time,” Williams said.

“I’ve learned what I wanted to improve on. I got feedback, I trained hard in the summer, I definitely took a bit of a netball break, a reset, and that helped me recalibrate how much I wanted it.

 

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“Watching the girls go and play in such an exciting major tournament made me want to be there. That’s the top of our sport and you want to be representing your country and playing alongside those girls.

“It gave me a bit of a push to make sure that I was doing everything possible to get myself in the best shape and be playing my best netball to succeed and be a part of that team.”

Williams returned to the international fold last October, winning Player of the Series in England’s 3-0 win over Uganda.

She has added more individual honours to her collection, earning several Gilbert Player of the Match awards for Lightning as the 2021 champions finished second in the regular season table.

The former Wasps player’s attention will soon turn to her second World Cup having represented the Vitality Roses at the 2019 tournament in Liverpool but before then, she is hoping to achieve the best send-off possible.

She added: “I am super excited to get started at the World Cup but I am very much just trying to park that excitement for now.

“I want to focus on playing in the purple for Loughborough. And what better way to go into a World Cup than if I’ve managed to achieve some success with Loughborough already.

“To get that experience of those pressure games and playing in semi-finals and finals, which will happen in the World Cup, if I can absorb the pressure of doing that now with Loughborough and nail that then that’s only going to give me more confidence in the summer.”

Loughborough Lightning welcome reigning champions Manchester Thunder to the David Wallace Sports Hall with first centre pass at 8pm as they compete for a spot in Sunday’s Grand Final.

Williams will be hoping to shine again and she paid tribute to her Loughborough Lightning teammates and coach Vic Burgess as they continue their charge for a second NSL title.


“I feel really humbled by how people have recognised the way I’ve been playing this year and spoken so nicely about some of the things that I’ve been doing,” Williams said.

“I know it sounds a cliché but I can’t speak highly enough of the unit at Loughborough and the structure we play with.

“Right from the way that it is coached by Vic and Liv [Murphy, assistant coach] at the top down to the way that all the girls execute it and know their role.

“The girls don’t waiver from their job and we stay connected when we need to change and adapt.

“Everyone has stepped up at different times and won ball at different times. Being able to share the load and not necessarily rely on an individual player at Loughborough to carry us through has been our strength.”

Tickets for Loughborough Lightning’s semi-final against Manchester Thunder 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.

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

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