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Josie Huckle

Taken during the Netball Super League match between Severn Stars and Manchester Thunder at the Worcester Arena, Worcester, England on 8th March 2024

Josie Huckle’s move to Manchester Thunder was never meant to happen but it has given the defender a new lease of life.

Huckle was at home at Wasps, the franchise she had played for since its founding in 2016, but was left without a club following its demise at the start of the 2023 season.

But a surprise lifeline from defending champions Thunder quickly followed, and the 32-year-old grabbed it with both hands through a set of impressive displays that saw her extend her stay at Belle Vue for the 2024 season.

And the goal keeper has stepped up even further this term, commanding the circle as Thunder opened their season with five wins from five.

“It’s great getting a chance to be on court, especially for a team like Thunder,” she said. “It is great to have someone like Karen Greig back you to be that person on court.

“It’s very early days but we have obviously had a strong start. Our additions this year, the likes of Paige [Reed], Imo [Allison] El [van der Berg] joining us has really bolstered the team, we have a definite squad of 12 which is really nice.

“It’s great to be five from five but there is absolutely no room to be complacent, we have only played five games and we still have a long way to go.”

It was quite the change from a year ago, when Huckle was left pondering what her netball future may look like.

But an Instagram DM, alongside some wise words from a Thunder legend, proved the catalyst for Huckle’s turnaround in fortunes that saw her named the club’s most improved player last season.

 

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A post shared by Josie Huckle (@josiehuckle)

“I was very fortunate to be picked up last year after what happened with Wasps. I was fully ready that I was going to play for Wasps for the rest of my career, I was very happy there,” she added.

“Karen actually messaged me on Instagram asking what my plans were and I was booked onto a coaching course with Tracey [Neville] the next day and so she basically sold Thunder to me and after we worked out how it would work in terms of travel, I was in.

“I think if you cut Karen and Tracey open, they would bleed black and yellow. They are Manchester Thunder through and through.

“Thunder have been champions however many times, they are always in that top four and playing in that kind of environment is absolutely amazing.

“Playing against international athletes every week can only be good for my game, so it was an absolute no brainer.”

The new surroundings of the North West have certainly had the right impact on Huckle, who has carried her strong form into this season. Her 12 intercepts so far this season rank her second in the league behind only Funmi Fadoju, while 18 gains also ranks her in the top 10.

That new environment perhaps seemed unlikely given Huckle is based in Bedfordshire, but she revealed how they have made it work to great effect.

“As a more experienced player, going into a brand new environment, I never thought I would be coached by Karen Greig but absolutely could never say no,” she added. “It has been really nice and I have been able to make it work.

“I live quite close to Milton Keynes so it is about an hour and a half on the train to Manchester, which is actually not bad in the grand scheme of things.

“Players do it all the time, and commuting is a part of netball at the moment. The trains have actually been quite enjoyable, my work has been really supportive, it has been working really well.

“I am constantly learning. I am still wanting to learn and I am still able to learn as the experienced player that I am, it’s a testament to the coaches I have got.

“They believe in me and there is never a chance to rest on my laurels, they are constantly saying what can we do better, throwing fresh challenges.

“I feel like I have a new lease of life and I am playing some of my best netball.”

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