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Hannah Joseph

You can beat Loughborough Lightning as much as you want in the regular season, Hannah Joseph knows the results that count come after.

The 2023 Netball Super League champions confirmed their home semi-final against London Pulse last weekend, in what is set to be a thrilling replay of last year’s showpiece.

It has already been one of the greatest battles of the 2024 season. The London side have come out on top in both meetings so far, taking the spoils 53-52 in Round 3 before backing that up with a 61-59 victory in Round 17.

But Lightning’s Joseph is paying no attention to the past, noting that whatever results the regular season might have brought, it all ultimately boils down to the team who reigns supreme at the Sir David Wallace Arena.

“Of course, you want to get the wins but at the end of the day it’s the semi-final that matters,” she said.

“You could win both regular season games and then lose the semi-final or vice versa so I think that’s the mentality we’re going in with.

“We don’t need to worry about those in-season results as long as we get the win.

 

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“I would obviously say this, but the results could have gone either way before, it was so close so we just need to have a look at those smaller things we can do.

“Even between the first time we played Pulse and Round 17, it was such a different game for us.

“We won’t be needing a full re-work, it’s just the small bits to keep our strength up throughout the game and not give away those small errors that become crucial.

“A home semi-final is obviously so important. It’s about having that knowledge and familiarity that helps breed the result.”

Hannah Joseph

Joseph is one of the longest serving members of the current Lightning side, first signing for the team in 2011 and clinching two Netball Super League titles in that time.

But longevity in the squad isn’t just isolated to Joseph’s career, with Nat Panagarry joining in 2015 and Beth Cobden enjoying her first stint at the club in 2016.

It’s a long-lasting relationship between club and player that the mid-courter puts down to the wider team’s compatibility both on and off the court.

“I think it comes down to the environment around the club,” she added. “At Loughborough we just get such good analysis, coaching, physio et cetera, it means that it allows us to just focus on the netball.

“When you have a set up like that, people want to stay. I mean I’ve been here for so long and it’s because it’s such a good set-up to be around.

“Then the girls are obviously so lovely. We have so much experience but then then with the new girls coming through it brings that fresh perspective.”

That fresh perspective comes from the injection of young talent such as Bella Baylis.

It’s fair to see that Joseph almost sees a bit of her younger-self in 20-year-old Baylis who mirrors her centre and wing attack positions on court, having joined the club last season and immediately impressing her experienced teammates.

But Joseph noted that, whilst she’s keen to help guide the new blood running through Lightning, she’s also eager to hear their own ideas as the club look to grow together as a team.

“Bella is just amazing and we all know that she’s going to go far since she’s only just at the start of her career,” she said.

“With the younger lot, I think the appreciate having our experience but for players coming through, I think they often just decide to listen since we’re older.

“They don’t realise how valuable their input is so it’s about being there and showing that we’re open to chat whenever they need and giving them the space to bring their ideas to court.”

 

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Joseph’s want to nurture the younger netball generation in the NSL feeds into her role as Head of Netball at Uppingham School.

It’s a job she cherishes, able to introduce a new wave of youngsters to the sport whilst also evolving her own skills ahead of a possible full-time move into coaching.

And despite the job meaning that Joseph’s entire life mostly revolves around netball, the Loughborough Lightning player assures those around her that she loves it too much to have it any other way.

“I have been at Uppingham for about four years,” she said. “I started full-time when I wasn’t in the England set-up and then they’ve been really supportive and I’ve been able to go down to a few days a week in the past couple of years to balance my netball.

“It might be the same sport but for me it feels so different being in that teacher role to being a player so it doesn’t tire me out too much.

“I really enjoy it, especially evolving my coaching perspective as that’s likely something that I can see myself going into post-playing career.

“I think it is hard to switch off but as long as you surround yourself with people who aren’t necessarily in netball or in sport then I think it allows you to take a break.”

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