Biggar netball star Emily Nicholl is looking forward to stepping into the unknown by playing against non European teams for the first time.
The trainee lawyer (23), who plays domestically for UWS Sirens, is confident she can help Scotland qualify from their group to secure a last eight spot at this month’s Commonwealth Games in Australia’s Gold Coast.
“We’re definitely aiming for that top eight position,” Emily said.
“We’ve got a tough pool but if we play to our full potential I think that’s definitely achievable.
“We’ve got New Zealand and England and they’ll probably be our toughest matches based on world rankings.
“But it will be a good opportunity to test ourselves against those teams.
“And then our must win games will be Wales – the last twice we’ve beaten them so we’re feeling confident about that match – and we’ve also got Uganda. I’ve never played against a country that’s not in Europe so that’ll be a good challenge.
“And then we’ve also got Malawi.
“They could be quite an interesting style, very different to what we’re used to, but on a good day I think we can challenge them and take the win.
“I think we can take three wins going forward. There’s nothing that can stop us.
“We’re playing well, feeling confident and we’ve got each others’ backs.
“So it’s good in the camp.”
Emily, who plays in goal defence or wing defence for the Scotland team, has arrived later into the squad than her team-mates.
She was scouted while representing the Scottish Student Sport (SSS) national team, and was brought into the Scottish Thistles.
Emily achieved her first cap during the Celtic Clash series against Northern Ireland in August 2016 and has been part of the team ever since.
Four years on from Glasgow 2014, when the then hosts came ninth out of 12 participants, there has been hefty investment, primarily through the costly establishment of a franchise in the Netball Superleague.
It has raised the profile but, Nicholl argues, also helped to close the skills gap between her compatriots and the elite quartet.
Nicholl did not expect to be involved in this ascent.
Growing up, she had no pretensions of advancement, slipping through the net of the talent scouts.
“I’m from Biggar so it’s very much a rugby town and everyone always said to me that I should play rugby,” she confirmed. “But I didn’t because I was always too scared of getting injured.”
The netball will run from April 5 to 11, with Scotland’s Pool B opener against England tomorrow (Thursday).