Leeds Rhinos youngster Sienna Rushton working hard to bridge gap

Teenage shooter Sienna Rushton says the step up to first-team Superleague action with Leeds Rhinos was a lot harder than expected – even if she has taken to it quickly.

Monday, 22nd March 2021, 6:00 am
Learning on the job: Leeds Rhinos' Sienna Rushton is making the most of her unexpected starting chance. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images for Vitality Netball Superleague)

The 19-year-old joined the fledgling Superleague outfit as a squad player but was thrust into action when star shooter Donnell Wallam went down injured in just the second game. Rushton – an England Under-21s player – has had to learn fast but as she proved last Monday night as Rhinos claimed a third win from six games by beating Strathclyde Sirens, she is more than capable of meeting the challenge.

“It’s harder than I expected, just because I’ve always played netball in a carefree manner,” says Rushton, who was on a youth contract at Wasps last season before turning pro with the Rhinos this term.

“I came to Leeds determined not to be the baby anymore and really step up and be professional about it.

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“That’s not something that can happen overnight, you have to work hard at it. So I’m working on the mental side of the game because it’s such a huge step up.”

That mental development has taken on some unique tasks.

“I tried some hypnotherapy which was cool,” says Rushton, who is combining netball with her studies at Leeds Beckett University. “Getting you to envisage success, envisage how you want to be.

“The vibe and ethos of the team is so supportive, there’s always someone to pick you up.

“That’s the great thing about being a new team, we’ve all come from different places, no one is established, we’ve come together at the same time and really bonded.”

Rhinos look to win back-to-back games for the first time this season when they take on Severn Stars in Wakefield tonight (7.15pm).

It has been a strong start by the Rhinos, one Rushton attributes to the positivity of their head coach Dan Ryan.

“He has one of the most incredible mindsets I’ve come across,” says Rushton. “In training it’s never a case of ‘you must win’, it’s ‘you must do your best and achieve your best’.

“If he sees something in training that’s really high quality he’s empowering us to do it in a game.

“He’s constantly striving for improvement but never striving for perfection, which for an athlete is an awesome mindset. It makes him a great coach.”

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