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Daily Record
Daily Record
Andy McGilvray

Commonwealth Games netball star hopes others look up to her in Scottish Thistles role

Emily Nicholl hopes she’s done enough to earn the vice-captain title at Scottish Thistles as she prepares to play a leading role at the Commonwealth Games this week.

The Biggar star is second-in-command to Claire Maxwell at the Birmingham 2022 showpiece and is delighted with that honour.

But while Strathclyde Sirens star Nicholl hopes the other girls look up to her, she says it’s important to recognise that the title is hers for a reason.

The 28-year-old – one of six Lanarkshire players in Team Scotland – said: “It really is a fantastic honour, and it’s the first time within the Thistles environment that I’ve had that kind of title, as such.

“But nothing about what I do on my daily basis really changes – I just continue to do what I do, and the title goes with it.

“But it’s great to work so closely with Claire Maxwell and to go to work closely with [head coach] Tamsin Greenway and [assistant] Sara Francis-Bayman.

“It’s such an honour and I’m really proud of it.

“I think it’s one of these things where it’s important to tell yourself that you’ve been given this title for a reason, and what you’ve been doing before is obviously working.

“It’s important to not change what you were doing, but I know I am one of the more senior girls in the squad, so I hope the girls can look up to me.”

Scotland face up to World number one Australia in their opener on Saturday, with Wales the following day.

They continue against Jamaica on August 2, and Barbados the following day, before concluding Group A against South Africa on August 4.

Classification matches are held on Friday, August 5, to determine placings, while the semi-finals take place on August 6 and 7.

Nicholl says the Thistles will aim to at least justify their ranking of eighth, and having Australia as their first opponents might actually help. She said: “Scotland have never matched our ranking at a major championships, and that’s what we absolutely want to do.

Nicholl says Thistles have their own targets for Birmingham 2022 and won't just make up the numbers (Ben Lumley/Netball Super League)

“We want to make that top eight, absolutely, but there’s no reason why we can’t challenge some of the higher teams in our group.

“We’ve got our targets, and internally we know where we’re at and what we want to do, but that top eight at least is what we’re aiming for.”

Emily added: “Having Australia first is good, because it allows us to really focus on what we want to put out there. We’re not spending hours on analysis on Australia being number one on the world because, realistically, we know where we’re at right now as a squad – and that’s not a team that we’re targeting.

“But it is a chance to run all the girls out, everyone gets a chance to know what it feels like, and it’s not a high-pressured match.

“It allows us to go out there and put out what we want to try. We will have markers that we will want to set, and go and challenge.

“We don’t want to just hand the win to Australia, at the end of the game we want them to think they had to turn up and play their best netball.

“That can also set down a marker for the other teams in our group. You’re always looking to see what teams similar to you have managed to do.”

With the team having travelled down to Birmingham last Sunday, Nicholl admits excitement is building.

She said: "Given we’re coming off the back of Covid, it really makes you appreciate how special events like these are.

“A couple of years ago I was starting to get nervous that this competition wouldn’t even happen, so the fact it’s going ahead is total relief.

“I’m so excited for us to go and show what we’ve been working on.

Strathclyde Sirens stars (from left) Emily, Niamh McCall, Beth Goodwin and Lynsey Gallagher have all made the squad (Hamilton Advertiser)

“It’s such a young squad and only a few of us have actually been to a Games before, but there are benefits of that.

“You’ve got us, who can bring that experience and keep everyone level-headed, but I also think it’s crucially important that we have those young ones who are really excited about going to their first Games.

“In those moments when it can be intense and people are nervous, sometimes you need to have a laugh.

“I think those young ones will bring that excitement and the buzz in camp.”

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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