Natalie Medhurst of the Firebirds reaches for the ball during the round 13 ANZ Championship match between the Firebirds and the Fever at Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre on June 24, 2012 in Brisbane, Australia.
Natalie Medhurst of the Firebirds reaches for the ball during the round 13 ANZ Championship match between the Firebirds and the Fever at Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre on June 24, 2012 in Brisbane, Australia. Chris Hyde - Getty Images

Medhurst stays zen about clash with her old team

AFTER growing up in country pubs, but never being a big drinker, star Firebirds goal attacker Natalie Medhurst knows how to block out distractions.

And there will be plenty of them against the Thunderbirds in tomorrow's ANZ Championship grand final at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre - Medhurst left the club in 2009 after spending six years there.

The Australian Diamonds stalwart still receives the odd barb from former fans, but the 29-year-old knows how to block negative thoughts from her mind pretty well.

"I grew up in country Victoria and South Australia, in Warracknabeal and Millicent, living in pubs for 13 years which my parents owned. We learnt to make our own fun, but I've never been a big drinker funnily enough," she said.

"I learnt how to say no from an early age."

With that positive attitude, Medhurst will deal with any insults thrown her way, with over 9000 fans expected to cheer the Thunderbirds on in their efforts to win their second ANZ Championship title.

"Most of the Adelaide supporters have been really great. They understand why I left the club," she said.

"There was a difference in personalities between me and the coach, and I just thought we weren't being encouraged to enjoy the sport - which is something I've always done since I was little growing up in the country.

"I wanted to be a one-club player, but I'm so happy at the Firebirds now."

Medhurst, who won a premiership with the Firebirds in 2011, believes she will have her work cut out by Thunderbirds defenders Rebecca Bulley and Sharni Layton.

But fellow attacking star Romelda Aiken's height advantage could be a deciding factor on the game's outcome.

"Bulley and Layton are both international players, and Sharni's so tenacious, but Romelda's height advantage will help us a lot," Medhurst said.

"It's absolutely going to be close - we've played two games against the Thunderbirds this season and lost by one and two points.

"The grand final will be on a totally different level, and they'll be going for history (the first team to win two ANZ titles) and 13 straight wins.

"But we're a team that never gives up, and we have such tight bonds."



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