Commonwealth Games 2022: Helen Housby doesn’t want to repeat Gold Coast’s nerve-wracking finish
Helen Housby is in no hurry to reiterate the last-gasp exploits that earned England a famous win over Australia Commonwealth Games Netball final four years ago.
Housby’s last-play winner sparked jubilant scenes across the Gold Coast and led to a seismic shift in perceptions of the sport in Britain.
But as England prepare to defend their title in Birmingham this month, Housby, 27, admits she has yet to watch full footage of the final due to memories of the immense tension surrounding the event .
“I didn’t watch the whole game because I think it’s getting too nerve wracking,” 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 have from the dressing rooms and the hotel are very special personal memories for all of us.
“But if it happens again, I’d much rather go home with 15 points – if not for me, then for my parents and the coaches and all the parents and fans in the stands.”
Housby’s winner ended years of narrow defeats to Australia and New Zealand in major competitions and marked a crucial change in the mentality of a team that had lost the semi-finals in every previous Commonwealth game dating back to 1998.
“England teams have historically almost enjoyed being the underdogs, staying under the radar and scraping for what they can get,” Housby added.
“But we have to have a strong will and face the pressure and go out with the front foot.
“So much in netball depends on the mental side of the game. I think we’ve had teams that fit together physically even lately, but it was the mental battle that we lost. Sometimes you can go into these big games and not really think you can do it.
“I think what happened in 2018 gave players a lot of confidence in how we can play in big competitions. Previously, we were stuck in the bronze medal box. We had to break away from that to believe we could make it to that gold medal play-off every time.”
Housby has played in Australia for the New South Wales Swifts since 2017 and has seen first-hand Australia’s changing attitude towards their up-and-coming rivals.
But she concedes there is no divine right to retain that respect, something drilled into the squad during the 2021 World Cup in Liverpool when England fell short of eventual winners New Zealand amid an unprecedented flurry of interest and expectations in the semifinals.
“We weren’t the best team of the day in that semi-final, so it ended badly 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 still implementing now.
“We never felt like it was over. There is so much more to achieve and what 2018 has accomplished has given us a thirst for success and a desire to keep winning it. The chance to win back-to-back gold medals at the Commonwealth Games is epic.”
Despite all the stress and tension generated by the final moments of the 2018 final, Housby insists she has no nightmares about what would have happened if she had missed the shot that would have changed the course of English netball history.
“I do that a hundred or a thousand times in practice and games,” Housby said. “If I missed that shot I would have been devastated, not because we might not have won the gold, but because I’ve taken that shot so many times, it’s almost like a reflex.”