After a 17-year career, Collingwood and former Australian goal-attack Natalie Medhurst has announced her retirement from netball.
Collingwood and former Australian goal-attack Natalie Medhurst has announced her retirement from netball.
The 36-year-old has stepped away from her domestic and international netball duties, drawing to a close a decorated 17-year career.
Medhurst earned 86 test caps for the Australian Diamonds and joined Collingwood last year as one of the nation’s all-time most capped players.
Medhurst broke into the international netball scene in 2005, winning three world championships and a Commonwealth Games gold over 12 years of international selection.
Medhurst played 15 matches for the Pies, after crossing from West Coast Fever at the end of the 2018 season. She has played a total of 235 domestic matches which places her third on the list of most national league games, behind Cath Cox (254) and Bianca Chatfield (244).
In January Medhurst placed her netball career on hold as she prepared to become a mother for the first time. In July, Medhurst and her partner welcomed a boy, Edison Butler.
Medhurst had been pushing for a 2020 netball return but due to current COVID-19 state border restrictions and a condensed season she was unable to re-join Collingwood’s squad.
Medhurst’s performance in Collingwood’s 2019 minor semi-final match against the Melbourne Vixens proved to be her last.
The shooter started her netball career with the Adelaide Thunderbirds, where she spent six years before joining the Queensland Firebirds for four seasons.
In 2014 Medhurst made the move to Perth to play with the West Coast Fever, where she became a dual MVP and captain for two years.
Medhurst is widely regarded as one of the great goal attacks of her time and a force for change off the court.
“I’d like to thank Collingwood for the last two years, which allowed me to finish off my career, as well as the West Coast Fever, the Queensland Firebirds and the Adelaide Thunderbirds,” Medhurst said.
“I never dreamt that I would play netball at the elite level and I have achieved so much more than I ever thought I could be capable of.
“There was a glimmer of light to play this season and whilst I worked so hard to get myself fit and ready to take the court, it unfortunately did not come to fruition. In the end despite being cleared to play, the possibility of having an exemption to travel and separating my family was not something I was okay with doing.
“The decision to retire is not one I take lightly but it’s certainly the right time. I have a beautiful family and I am in a very happy place. I know that I am leaving the sport having given it my absolute all throughout the years.
“In terms of what is next, I have accepted a role with Commonwealth Games Australia as a community engagement manager. I will work in the lead up and throughout the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
“Stepping away from netball is daunting but I am very excited to have this opportunity to continue to work within sport at the elite level and play a role in making the 2022 Commonwealth Games a memorable one for all Australians.”
Collingwood head coach Rob Wright paid tribute to Medhurst for a remarkable sporting career.
“Nat will go down as one of the all-time greats of Australian netball. She is one of the very few athletes who are a triple world champion,” Wright said.
“Although it was only one season, it’s humbling to have coached one of the very best of our game.
“I believe her retirement comes at a fitting time. Aside from her last Super Netball performance, Nat’s true last game was Collingwood’s premiership winning match at the Super Cup tournament in New Zealand. I think this is a superb way to go out.
“Her on-court presence will be greatly missed. I would love to see her continue with the sport in some capacity in the future and I wish her all the best.”
Collingwood co-captain Madi Browne congratulated Medhurst on her years of service. Browne also called time on her Super Netball career last week.
“I feel privileged to have shared my career playing alongside Nat Medhurst. One of my fondest memories was as teammates in the 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medal match,” Browne said.
“The best thing about Nat is she strives for excellence and challenges you to push yourself. She has a genuine heart to make the people around her better at everything they do.
“Nat was so smart and creative with a ball in hand. She could create something from nothing with her signature ‘Medhurst foot pivot and twist’, as a teammate you always wanted the ball with her in clutch moments.
“It is sad we didn’t get to have one final hurrah together in the black and white, but I believe we will have many more in our next phase of life as friends. She will always and forever be my favourite ‘BOP’ girl.
“She has always wanted to be a mother and will do an incredible job of it. Nat has excelled on the netball court and I know she will excel in this next chapter of her life.”