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Daily Record
Daily Record
Andy McGilvray

Commonwealth Games honour for Sirens netball star Emily Nicholl

Emily Nicholl says it’s a real honour to be vice-captain of Scottish Thistles at this summer’s Commonwealth Games, and aims to set a platform for future success.

The Strathclyde Sirens star and her teammates aren’t going to Birmingham to make up the numbers, and want to push into the top eight nations, with a view to breaking into the top five after that.

They’re up against some tough opposition, placed in Group A alongside Australia, Jamaica, South Africa, Wales and Barbados, with the Aussies first up on Saturday, July 30.

Nicholl, from Biggar, says that’s a scenario that Tamsin Greenway’s 12-strong team can enjoy, but they’re also there to get some serious work done.

She said: “It’s great news to be selected and it’s always nice to be recognised in that leadership position.

“[Captain] Claire Maxwell is great, she’s a really close friend of mine. It’s a real honour to have that position and I cannot wait for the Games now.

“At the end of the day, we are there for netball, and to compete, so it’s just finding that balance of enjoying the experience, but also getting our heads down and getting on with the netball.

“It’s a tough group but that’s great – it shows the state that world netball is in that either pool that you’re going to be in is a difficult one. It’s going to be great.

Nicholl says experienced players like herself can help younger ones during the competition in Birmingham (Ben Lumley/Netball Super League)

“Our first game is against Australia, they’re probably the top team in the world at the moment, and it will be a great test to see how we match up against them.

“Then there’s that classic game against Wales, which is always a really feisty battle.

“I’m sure both sides will be buzzing to get that one underway.

“We don’t get many opportunities to play against teams like Jamaica and Australia, just with the way it goes, so it’s such a privilege and it’s really exciting when we get to play against those different styles.”

Nicholl says the target from the Games is just to do as well as they can.

She added: “We’ve never gone to one of the pinnacle events and matched the ranking, but we want to really push that top eight, to cement that place, and anything above and beyond that is a bonus.

“But we have big aspirations as a group; in the future we want to be pushing for the top five, so top eight is our minimum, and then we’ll push from there.”

Several of the squad, including Nicholl, have experience from the Gold Coast in 2018, which will stand them in good stead, and help some of the younger players.

“This is my second Commonwealth Games, and that gives me something to build on,” said Emily.

“The Commonwealth Games is so different from anything else. It’s a multi-disciplined event, with there being so many other sports, and there’s so much hype around it, so there’s scope for distractions and things like that.

Sirens star Nicholl says Thistles are treating Birmingham 2022 almost like a 'home' Games (Hamilton Advertiser)

“I think it will stand us in good stead that we have a few experienced girls within the squad, which will be good, just to help those young ones who haven’t been there before with it.

“A lot of girls who haven’t had exposure before will have been on that international stage, with big crowds in front of them, playing against some really physical sides, so it can only benefit them in future when they go back to domestic seasons.”

With the relatively close distance compared to previous Games, travelling down to Birmingham means so many more people can see Thistles in action.

Emily enthused: “We’re treating it almost as if it’s a home Games.

“Although there will be Covid protocols and things in place, so many people will be able to travel down and see us, it’s not that far to come.

“There’s going to be so much support for us, which is really exciting, and we’ll hopefully be able to see their little faces in the crowd, which always makes a difference.”

Follow Lanarkshire Live Sport on Twitter via @LanLiveSport, like us on Facebook or find us on Instagram for the latest sports news, pictures and video.

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