Helen Housby keen not to repeat nerve-racking finish from Gold Coast

Housby’s winner with the last move of the match sparked jubilant scenes on the Gold Coast.

By Press Association Published: 18 July 2022 - 11.00am

Helen Housby is in no hurry to repeat the last-gasp heroics that earned England a famous win over Australia in the Commonwealth Games netball final four years ago.

Housby’s winner with the last move of the match sparked jubilant scenes on the Gold Coast and led to a seismic shift in the perception of the sport in the UK.

But as England prepare to defend their title in Birmingham this month, the 27-year-old Housby admits she is yet to watch full footage of the final because of the memory of the immense tension involved in the occasion.

2018 Commonwealth Games – Day Eleven
England claimed a famous win on the Gold Coast (Martin Rickett/PA)

“I haven’t watched the whole game back because I find it gets too nerve-racking,” Housby told PA Media.

“The game was so stressful and tense. I don’t mind watching the last five minutes and some of the footage we’ve got from the changing rooms and the hotel are very special personal memories for all of us.

“But if it happened again, I would much rather cruise home by 15 points – if not for me, then for my mum and dad, and the coaches, and everyone’s parents and supporters in the stands.”

Netball World Cup 2019 – Day Nine – M&S Bank Arena
England came up short at the 2019 World Cup in Liverpool (Nigel French/PA)

Housby’s winner ended years of close defeats to Australia and New Zealand in major competitions, and led to a crucial change in the mentality of a team that had lost semi-finals at all previous Commonwealth Games stretching back to 1998.

“England teams in the past have almost enjoyed being the underdogs, going under the radar and scrapping for what they can get,” added Housby.

“But we’ve got to be strong-minded and front up to the pressure and go out there on the front foot.

“So much of netball comes down to the mental side of the game. Even recently I think we’ve had squads that match up physically, but it was the mental battle we were losing. Sometimes you can go into those big games and you don’t actually believe you can do it.

Wasps v Saracens Mavericks – Vitality Netball Superleague – Resorts World Arena
Helen Housby is confident England can retain their Commonwealth Games gold medal (Zac Goodwin/PA)

“I think what happened in 2018 has given the players a lot of belief in how we can play in big competitions. Previously we were stuck in the bronze medal box. We needed to break out of that to believe we can get to that gold medal play-off every time.”

Housby has played in Australia with New South Wales Swifts since 2017, and has noted at first hand the change in attitudes in Australia towards their emergent rivals.

But she acknowledges there is no divine right to retaining that respect, something that was drilled home to the squad during the 2021 World Cup in Liverpool, when amid an unprecedented swirl of interest and expectation, England came up short to eventual winners New Zealand in the semi-finals.

“In that semi-final we weren’t the best team on the day, so did end on a sour note for us,” added Housby, whose team had to regroup and settle for bronze. “But there were things we learned from that experience that we are putting into place even now.

Netball World Cup 2019 – Day Six – M&S Bank Arena
England will start the defence of their Commonwealth Games title against Trinidad (Nigel French/PA)

“We have never felt like it’s over. There is still so much more to achieve, and what 2018 has done is given us a thirst for success and wanting to win it more and more. The chance to win back-to-back Commonwealth Games gold medals is an epic one.”

For all the stress and tension the final moments of the 2018 final generated, Housby insists she does not have nightmares about what would have happened if she had missed the shot that changed the course of English netball history.

“It’s something I do hundreds or thousands of times in training and matches,” said Housby. “If I’d missed that shot I would have been devastated, not because we might not have won the gold, but because I’ve made that shot so many times it’s almost like a reflex action.”

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