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Cancelled holidays all worth it for Huckle

A few cancelled holidays have been more than worth it for Josie Huckle this season.

The goal keeper had never previously even thought about playing for Manchester Thunder due to her southern roots but has loved her time in yellow and black so far following a tumultuous start to the season.

The former Wasps player was left reeling by the collapse of the West Midlands franchise and, resigning herself to the 2023 season on the sidelines, even booked a couple of getaways.

But a lifeline arrived when Thunder head coach Karen Greig came calling, and Huckle has not looked back since, winning bronze at the Grand Final before scooping the Fast5 trophy last weekend.

“I keep saying I feel like I have been in a washing machine,” admitted Huckle.

“I started off with Wasps, that was a whole rollercoaster dealing with that in general, there was massive uncertainty and I didn’t even think I would play this year.

“I booked a couple of holidays, I was ready to go off and have a year out and then Karen was like ‘do you fancy it?’

“I was like absolutely, how can you turn down the reigning champions?”

The decision to join up with Greig’s side might have been an easy one on the face of it, but the logistics were not quite so simple.

It has meant a regular commute from Bedford to Manchester via train, with Huckle only initially signing as a training partner before a season-ending injury to Yasmin Roebuck opened the door for a place in the full squad of 12.

But the leap of faith has paid off for Huckle, who ended her unorthodox season as one of the most in-form keepers in the league.

“The culture and what they have up here, Nat [Metcalf] as a leader is incredible and the girls are so lovely,” she added.

“I never even thought about going to Thunder before, obviously it is absolutely nowhere near where I live but the trains have worked really well and Karen, Gabs [Towell], and Phil [Thomas] have been so supportive in what I am doing so I have absolutely loved it this year.”

The pleasure has not just been Huckle’s either, with Thunder equalling benefitting from the former Wasp’s rise this season after falling foul to a number of injuries.

“We were so lucky,” said Greig. “When we knew the Wasps players were up for grabs, we had a look across our squad at where we might need some back-up and initially signed Josie as a training partner even though we knew she wanted that 12 spot.

“Unfortunately for Yas [Roebuck], who did her ACL before the season even started, it meant we could elevate Josie into the 12 in that ‘keeper position and for us it was a revelation and something I am really pleased and proud that we did.

“We have played against Josie for years, and we knew exactly what she could do so to be able to bring her into the Manchester Thunder fold and get her playing the Thunder way, she adapted so well as the season went on.”

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