27/02/2024

Elle Mcdonald made her debut for the England Roses (Picture: England Roses/Twitter)

Months after not receiving another Suncorp Super Netball contract, Elle Mcdonald made her way to the United Kingdom for more opportunity. Playing amongst some of the best netballers in the world as an England Rose and as part of the Leeds Rhinos, she is now at home abroad.

Packing up her life and moving from Australia to the United Kingdom, Elle Mcdonald is making a splash playing for the Leeds Rhinos in the Netball SuperLeague after making her England Roses debut. Making the most of her new opportunity, she is rubbing shoulders with some of the biggest stars and most promising young players in the England set-up.

Elle Mcdonald spoke exclusively to The Inner Sanctum about the last six months and her Roses debut against Jamaica.

“Honestly it’s been such a whirlwind, it’s been such a rollercoaster since I got here in the UK in terms of my netball journey but [I’ve] absolutely loved it,” Mcdonald told The Inner Sanctum.

“[For me,] just to be named in the twelve, I was like ‘oh my gosh, it’s actually happening’ while I was sitting on the bench. Then I was brought on and made my debut, [and] to have done it in a deciding game of a home test series where it was a full house, the crowd was just electric and to get that win, was so special.

“It was very unlike me but by the end of the game, I just got so emotional and I think it was just all of those feelings, I was just overwhelmed.

“I have made this huge leap of faith and it seemed like one of those moments where it all paid off. I did have some family in the crowd there which was really lucky considering it’s on the other side of the world for them so that made it really nice too.”

Coming on to make her debut in the final game of the series against Jamaica, Mcdonald’s rise in the netball world was complete, she reflected on what it meant to become an England Rose.

“I think any opportunity that you get to represent your country is just amazing to stand arm in arm with some of those players and sing a national anthem before a game and you have all that adrenaline going, I just don’t think there is any other feeling like it,” she said.

“The girls I am playing alongside, in a huddle with and sat eating breakfast with in camp situations, it’s just like ‘oh my goodness, this is unreal’. Each of them in their own [way] have had amazing journeys and have been so welcoming to me, coming into that environment as a new player as well so I’ve loved every second of it.”

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With a side boasting the talent that includes stalwarts Geva Mentor, Layla Guscoth, Jo Harten, Helen Housby and Francesca Williams, as well as rising stars Funmi Fadoju and Sophie Drakeford-Lewis, Mcdonald has had no shortage of mentors or shoulders to lean on.

She shedded light on two particular players that have helped her once she landed in the Roses camp.

“When I think about those players, I probably initially go to those mid-court players, so the likes of Nat Metcalf, who’s our captain [is one],” Mcdonald explained.

“She has just been so wonderful in making me welcome and I was lucky enough to be her roomie in our first camp on tour. It was really nice to sort of build that relationship with her and just chat through the games and things like that and get some advice and feedback from her.

“[There was also] Jade Clarke, who as we know has just made her 200th cap and is an absolute legend of the game as well. [For] someone of her calibre, just to be so humble and so willing to share advice and be so supportive of a new player in that environment as well is just so amazing and definitely look up to both of those girls.”

Coming off a season of Suncorp Super Netball for the Adelaide Thunderbirds where she lacked the opportunity for court-time, Mcdonald was initially nervous for the step-up on international debut. However despite this, she maintained that it was not the step-up in quality but the lack of chemistry due to a lack of time to gel with the team that was the hardest part.

“We know what the intensity of SSN games are like and same with SuperLeague games and knowing that the international game is going to be a step higher than that and being able to maintain that level of intensity over a full match [made me a little bit nervous],” she said.

“I think for me, more so than that it was just the connections, because I hadn’t been in the environment for too long before taking the court so connections with your goalers especially and other middies is so important. We sort of had to fast-track a little with myself but as I said, the experience of the girls around me, I felt so supported when I first got on court.

“At the end of the day we came away with the win, which was great but also getting the opportunity to go over to South Africa for the Quad Series meant that we were able to build on that and just build those connections more and more in and against some more competitors.”

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