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Geva Mentor on her 'nostalgic' return to the Netball Super League after 13 years away

Geva Mentor makes her first return to the Netball Super League since 2010; She played in Australia for 13 years but returns after retiring from international netball; Watch all five games from the opening round live this Saturday on Sky Sports Mix

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Geva Mentor discusses why she decided to move to the Netball Super League from Australia and also why exactly Leeds Rhinos was the perfect team for her

Geva Mentor has done it all in netball, and now the England legend makes her return to the Netball Super League with the Leeds Rhinos.

Mentor has not played in the Super League since 2010, playing in Australia for the Melbourne Vixens, Sunshine Coast Lightning, and Collingwood Magpies over the last 13 seasons.

After retiring from international duty, Mentor has made the decision to go back to her roots and has found a team in Leeds Rhinos that she believes she can "contribute" to.

Geva Mentor makes her return to the Netball Super League in 2024 for Leeds Rhinos
Image: Geva Mentor makes her return to the Netball Super League in 2024 for Leeds Rhinos

The pay dispute in Australia plus her desire to play back where it all started led to a link up with Leeds coach Liana Leota and a chance to bring "stability" to an ever-changing Rhinos side as her career edges closer to its end.

"It really is and it's a bit nostalgic as well. I'm excited for so many reasons," she told Sky Sports. "Obviously to come back and play on English soil, to experience a new city. Leeds is amazing, has such a good vibe about it but to be able to come back to the Super League where there are some familiar faces and also some very new faces.

"It's going to be a really exciting year and one I am very much looking forward to.

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"I'm really organised and I like to know what's happening. When I could see all the dramas kicking off in Australia, I was like 'look, I know I'm coming towards the end of my career, how many more years do I want to be playing out here, how many more years do I want to be playing.'

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"It would be really nice to come back and play on English soil and just connect to where it all started for me. I wanted a team I feel I can contribute to and really add value to. As soon as I sat down with Liana (Leota) literally in the first five minutes I knew I was sold.

"It's where I wanted to be and we were just very much on the same page with what we wanted to do and where she wanted to take the club, the legacy she wanted to leave and instil in those players around.

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"We come from the ethos you want to leave a place better than where you come in. I think for me it was a no-brainer. Obviously I'd worked closely with her under The Roses and knew she wanted build this new team.

"There had been a lot of player movement over the off-season and hoping I can bring some stability in and just really just share my experience."

'I want to empower and inspire'

When someone of Mentor's stature comes into a team, the depth of wisdom and experience she brings is unparalleled.

Geva Mentor will provide a wealth of experience on her return to the Netball Super League
Image: Geva Mentor will provide a wealth of experience on her return to the Netball Super League

For the England stalwart, that is a key component of what she wants do while with Leeds, building a strong "foundation" for the club while also enjoying her netball.

"I want to be part of a group that I hopefully empower and inspire, but I also want to make sure that we've got a really strong foundation below us, and that foundation is the community and making sure you reach every part of that," she added.

"I think we've probably got the widest area to cover in Leeds with the Leeds Rhinos - our home games could end up being a two-hour drive away. I think that's great that we're able to touch so much of the north.

"There will definitely be a lot of emotions around feeling nervous, feeling anxious, the unknown, what to expect but also making sure I'm that calm, level headed person that the team needs. Excited to be able to get out on court.

"I think it's going to be a really good opportunity to see where we really fare against Super League sides. And also be able to see the teams that will follow us throughout that day, and see where we're at.

"I am very excited to be able to step out on court. So many new things, so much going on, I think it will just be about trying to control that and channel it in to what we need to execute."

What does the future look like for Mentor?

With a career spanning as long as Mentor's has, it is often asked what is next when her netball career on the domestic stage finally comes to an end.

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For Mentor, helping towards a smooth transition towards professional netball in England, plus potentially starting a family, are both things she is often thinking about.

"It was a big move in terms of retiring from international netball last year, that I didn't go teetotal and stop netball completely," Mentor said. "I think to do justice to myself and my well-being I think it was important that I transition out. I've been part of the Netball fraternity since I was a 14-15-year-old and I'm now nearing 40.

"I think that smooth transition into being able to still give back and contribute, and play in a league that has provided me so many opportunities was important. I think it's really to be able to enjoy my netball this year, see how much I can do and what change I can bring, not just within the club but within netball up north.

"And then see what the future holds, whether I continue playing. I think as soon as you retire completely and you're done and dusted, it's very hard to get back into it all.

"So eventually I would love to be able to start a family of my own. Whether I'm able to do that alongside still playing, who knows? But I think now from someone whose very regimented and being organised, and knowing what I want to do from month to month, year to year - now once the season finishes and concludes, it will just be about what happens next and being very open to rolling and going with the flow, as I like to say.

"Netball is in a great place and I'm happy to be part of it, and hopefully I'll be able to be a part of it as well in the future years to come."

Watch the netball super league throughout the season live on Sky Sports. Live coverage begins on Saturday with Seven Stars vs Leeds Rhinos Netball from 11am on Sky Sports Arena and the Sky Sports YouTube channel. Stream netball and more on NOW.

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