Natalie counting days to new season

Natalie Haythornthwaite in action for Yorkshire Jets
Natalie Haythornthwaite in action for Yorkshire Jets
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After the big build-up, with a launch on Sky Sports, Barrowford’s Natalie Haythornthwaite is just itching to get on the court for the start of the new Netball Superleague season.

The Yorkshire Jets vice-captain was at the Sky Sports Studios - just as Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher were preparing for their Monday Night Football show - helping promote the NSL, which gets underway next week.

Sky will be showing live games from all 14 rounds of the league, as well as the semi-finals and final.

Wing attack Natalie is hoping for a top-four finish with Yorkshire, who open their season in Sheffield against Loughborough Lightning next Friday, and she said: “I can’t wait to get going now.

“It’s been a long time since the season ended in September, and we’ve been training hard - we only had Christmas Day and New Year’s Day off.

“It was great to be at the launch - it is exciting that Sky are involved. As soon as we got there we were in hair and make-up, and we had to do a lot of interviews, have a lot of pictures taken, and film the rules to help people understand the game better.

“It’s a massive help to increase interest in netball, and we’re all ready to go now.”

Each franchise will be shown at least three times live, and the 22-year-old added: “I’m counting the sleeps now until next Friday.

“We play Loughborough in Sheffield, and then we’ll be travelling overYorkshire trying to get to see all our fans - we’ll also play home games in Leeds, Hull and Huddersfield.

“Play-offs are definitely the aim - it was disappointing last season, finishing seventh, but we’ve strengthened the squad and got everyone that we need, so we feel we have a chance.”

Natalie also has personal ambitions, including international goals, with the World Championships to come in Australia this summer.

After the disappointment of missing out on Commonwealth Games selection, she was back in the England A fold recently and admitted: “Last year was the first time I hadn’t been picked, and I was nervous when I got called up this time. I suppose I didn’t trial well last year, and it is all about performing well. I just have to keep working at the wing attack position after playing goal attack when I was younger.

“The Worlds is an aim, but it will be tough, Tamsin Greenaway is back and plays in my position, but I’ll just focus on my performances.”