Helen Housby has represented England for a decade and was part of the team who won netball gold at the Commonwealth Games in 2018. As she prepares to play in the Netball Nations Cup, which also involves Australia, New Zealand and Uganda, she talks to Telegraph Sport about zoology, rapping and a horse costume.
Who is the one person you would like to meet, dead or alive?
David Attenborough, he’s always been a bit of a hero of mine. I’m obsessed with animals and a big part of that was probably watching his documentaries and reading his books. I actually studied zoology at Manchester for a couple of years before I went out to Sydney to play, and I grew up on a farm. Being outdoors and with animals is a huge part of my life.
Describe yourself in three words.
Fun, passionate and erratic.
If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
Teleportation, just so I could get from Australia to England without having to do the long-haul flight.
What is the best compliment you have ever received?
I like it when people say I haven’t lost my English accent when I’ve lived in Australia for so long, and if people say I’m still down to earth, I guess with my netball and where I’ve been in my career. I’m still a farm girl at heart and that means a lot to me to kind of stay rooted and grounded.
What is your worst habit?
Trying on clothes and then not putting the clothes back on the hanger, they just end up on the bed, then on to the floor. My boyfriend hates it. I’m trying to be better at that in 2024.
What is your most embarrassing moment?
I was playing against a team in Perth and two defenders that I was playing against went to do a high five but I walked in between them and they high-fived the sides of my face. I was kind of embarrassed but wasn’t that embarrassed because I found it so funny. All three of us were laughing. That lives in my head forever.
What is your most prized possession?
The gold medal from 2018 Commonwealth Games. I say that, I don’t actually know where it is because my mum looks after it. But that would definitely be my most prized possession. Just the history of that moment and doing something that an England team has never done before. It’s kind of priceless, really.
What song gets you on the dance floor?
I’ve got a very eclectic music taste so I can listen to anything, from Adele to Drake. But for a dance I like a sing-along so I’ve been into Abba recently. Something like Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! would get me to dance.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
It was Tracey Neville, in an international match. I was about to shoot from midway in the circle but I decided to pass it off. We lost the ball and I didn’t get to take a shot. Then, as I went off to the bench, the TV cameras were like right in my face filming us and Tracey just walked up and like, hairdryer treatment, shouted, “If you don’t want to shoot the ball, don’t be a shooter”, and just walked off. I was probably 19 or 20. The second half I went out and scored all my shots – it worked. The advice was, that’s your job, so do it. Tough love, but I think I needed it.
What is your karaoke song?
I am known for singing Eminem and Dizzee Rascal rap. So the Dizzee song Dance Wiv Me.
What is the most ridiculous thing you have ever bought?
I’ve got a horse costume which I bought for a party. Me and one of my team-mates went as Billy Ray Cyrus when he had that song Old Town Road. She was Billy Ray and I was the horse.
What is your biggest non-sporting achievement?
I adopted my cat Roger this year and I’m now an ambassador for the RSPCA in Australia. I hold that really dear to my heart. It’s really cool to be an ambassador for a charity like that, that I really love. And it was actually an achievement to get my boyfriend to agree to adopt the cat.
What is the best book you have ever read?
I’m a Harry Potter nerd so probably has to be that series. I remember having it on reserve at the bookshop, running to the shop when it opened at 6am and bingeing it for the next couple of days. It’s got such a nostalgic feel and the books are way better than the films.
What is the one rule you would like to change in your sport?
I’d like to be able to launch the ball from the far third to the other end – from goal keeper to goal shooter – without it being called back.
What is the most out-of-character thing you have ever done?
I got shy at Spoty. I love football, Manchester United, and we met a few footballers at the awards. But when we met Harry Kane, even though I’m not a Tottenham fan of course I’m a big England fan, so I got super shy and couldn’t speak to him properly. It was awful. I’m not that person, I’m so outgoing, but Harry Kane made me very shy.
If you were not a sports person, what would you be doing?
My dream was always to work in an animal sanctuary. These days I want to own a doggy day care because they’re everywhere in Sydney. To get to play with dogs and get paid seems great.