Vitality Superleague 2022: Natalie Haythornthwaite leaving NSW Swifts ahead of Superleague return | Netball News


2018 Commonwealth gold medal-winning Natalie Haythornthwaite last played in the Vitality Superleague in 2018, winning the Grand Final with Wasps; an announcement on her new team is expected in the coming weeks

Last Updated: 14/09/21 10:04am

Natalie Haythornthwaite has enjoyed a brilliant four years in Australia, but NSW Swifts have announced she will be leaving the champions to return to the UK (Photo by Speed Media/Icon Sportswire)

Natalie Haythornthwaite has enjoyed a brilliant four years in Australia, but NSW Swifts have announced she will be leaving the champions to return to the UK (Photo by Speed Media/Icon Sportswire)

England’s Natalie Haythornthwaite is on her way back to the Vitality Superleague after New South Wales Swifts confirmed she would be leaving the Australian Premiership champions.

The wing attack has enjoyed four stellar years in Australia, playing alongside fellow Commonwealth Games gold medal winner Helen Housby after originally signing as an injury replacement in 2018.

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However after two titles in four years in the world’s leading domestic competition – including this year’s Premiership title – she has opted for a return to the United Kingdom after an extended period away from her family.

The 28-year-old last played in the competition for Wasps where she won two Superleague titles, while she also spent a season with Manchester Thunder and began her career with the Yorkshire Jets.

“When I got the call to come in as a replacement player in 2018, I never thought that I would go on to have the experiences I’ve had with this club,” she said.

“I have loved every moment of my time with the Swifts and playing with – and against – so many of the world’s best players in Suncorp Super Netball.

“This year was extra special to win the title in such testing circumstances, and to head home with two winners’ medals is something I didn’t even dare to dream of before arriving.

“I want to say a huge thank you to all of my team-mates and coaches as well as the staff at both the Swifts and Netball NSW for making me feel so at home.

“I also want to thank the Swifts members and fans for embracing me, as well as so many in the NSW netball community who I got to meet and engage with during my time in Australia.

“After these past few years, I am really excited to be going home, getting married, seeing my family and playing some more netball. But I also can’t wait to cheer on the Swifts late at night on the TV.

“I’ve loved the journey but now it’s time to head home.

With news expected in the coming days about the opening of the Superleague’s signings window, the race is on to see who has won the race for Haythornthwaite’s signature – four titles in six years across two of the sport’s leading domestic competitions make her one of the most sought after names around.

Haythornthwaite (R) will feature for England in Australia in October (PA Images)

Haythornthwaite (R) will feature for England in Australia in October (PA Images)

Wasps, Thunder and Superleague’s newest team Leeds Rhinos could all be in the mix to bring back the vastly experienced Haythornthwaite.

Swifts were quick to pay tribute to the Roses international, who will be part England’s upcoming series against Australia in early October after being rested for the three-match contest against New Zealand along with the Roses’ other Australian-based players

“At the Swifts we try to instil a culture of good people making great players and Natalie is one of the best on both counts,” said Swifts head coach Briony Akle.

“She has spent a huge amount of time away from her fiancé and family in very tough circumstances as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but that never changed her professional and team-first approach which was hugely valued by everyone at the club.

“We completely understand her decision to go back to the UK and she does so with two titles under her belt. That’s a pretty great return for a very special individual.”





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