New kids on the block London Pulse hoping to spring a shock in Vitality Netball Superleague play-offs

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Pulse have broken into the top four of English netball's top flight this season for the first time since their formation in 2019 (Credit: Ben Lumley)
Pulse have broken into the top four of English netball's top flight this season for the first time since their formation in 2019 (Credit: Ben Lumley)

By Tom Harle

Sam Bird says underdogs London Pulse are ready to upset the established order in the Vitality Netball Superleague play-offs.

Pulse have broken into the top four of English netball's top flight this season for the first time since their formation in 2019.

The capital side are the dark horses in the race to lift the title, facing Loughborough Lightning semi-finals on Friday followed by the Grand Final at the Copper Box on Sunday.

Bird and team are far from satisfied just to be invited to the Jubilee weekend party - they want to spoil the celebrations for the established order.

“We’ve made history in terms of it’s the first time our club has qualified for play-offs and the players have a sense of that, but equally for us this is the business end of the season,” she said.

“We want to really shine in the play-offs and nobody can deny, whatever the results are in the play-offs, that this is a team that is going to continue to grow and improve, and we’re still improving now.

“If we get our timing right, we might just cause a couple of surprises.”

Pulse finished eighth in the Covid-impacted 2021 season and found a new level in the first full season with fans since the pandemic.

They won 14 of their 20 regular-season games, comfortably fending off the likes of Saracens Mavericks, Leeds Rhinos and Surrey Storm to make the semi-finals.

Pulse has been a unique platform for young players to break into the full-time Vitality Roses programme ahead of the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Star defenders Funmi Fadoju and Zara Everitt were given their first senior Roses contracts in May, along with sharp shooter Olivia Tchine.

“I came in as head coach and I said if we’re going to come last, we need to come last with young talent so that they can learn,” said Bird.

“We deliberately recruited some of the country’s best talent and the reason I’m not surprised they’ve done so well is that they are genuinely so exciting to work with.

“They have absolutely worked their socks off in training and the club giving them the confidence to believe they are good enough to become Roses and Future Roses, and we have lots of England players on our pathway as well.

“They are so driven, they are absorbed in netball, they want to represent England, they want to give their very best.”

Who will be crowned champions? Vitality Netball Grand Final 2022 takes place at London’s Copper Box Arena this Sunday 5 June. Get your tickets here

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