NSW Swifts recruit Sharni Layton made the switch from Adelaide in the off-season. Photo: Brendan EspositoNSW Swifts recruit Sharni Layton is happy to admit she suffers from white-line fever.
Nanjing Night Net

“I’m a bit left of centre, personality wise, so I think I bring that edge to the Swifts,” the Australian Diamonds defender said. “People come up against me in a game situation and probably think I’m a bit of a bitch, but I’m completely different off the court to who I am on the court.”

There have been several changes in the off-season at the Swifts, with former assistant coach Rob Wright taking over as head coach after Lisa Beehag stood down at the end of 2013 following the team’s failure to make the finals for the second successive season.

Despite winning the ANZ Championship with the Adelaide Thunderbirds, Layton said she decided to make the move to the Swifts at the end of last season after discussions with Wright about “taking things to the next level”.

“I’d been at Adelaide for four years and they had fantastic coaches, but I have a lot more that I want to bring out in my game, and I felt I needed to be in a new environment to do that,” the 26-year-old said. “Rob is a defence specialist coach and I asked him what he could do to help me improve and he said ‘everything’, which was awesome.”

Layton said after taking some time to adjust, she is relishing the new environment in Sydney, on and off the court. “It’s been a challenge to come to the big smoke, but sometimes you have step out of your comfort zone if you want to take your game to the next level. It would have been too easy to stay in Adelaide,” Layton said.

With 55 ANZ Championship caps, two Championship wins, and 12 appearances for the national team under her belt, Layton’s signing has added a much-needed injection of experience into the Swifts, who start their 2014 campaign against the West Coast Fever at home on Sunday.

The former Thunderbirds co-captain has been inducted into the Swifts leadership group. “I’m passionate about having a strong team culture and I really admire teams like the Sydney Swans, the work Adam Goodes does with the team and the respect they all have for the leadership group. To be considered a part of that is definitely an honour,” Layton said.

While now happily settled in Sydney, major life decisions and injuries have meant the journey to the Swifts has been a challenging one. A lifelong horse-lover, as a teenager she was forced to make an agonising decision over whether to further her Olympic equestrian dreams or pursue netball full-time. Layton delayed making the decision until a netball scholarship offer from the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra in 2007 proved the catalyst.

“That is still the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make. I always wanted to make it to the Olympics, once you’re a horse-lover it’s in your blood, and I knew I had talent with netball but I didn’t think I could go the whole way,” Layton said. “After I got the offer from the AIS I thought it was now-or-never with netball, so I decided to put my all into that.”

Layton played one season with the Melbourne Vixens in 2008 before spending 2009 at the AIS as part of the gold medal-winning Australian World Youth Cup team. She was then snapped up by the Thunderbirds in 2010, playing a key part in the championship-winning 2010 and 2013 campaigns. Layton won her first international cap in 2011, helping the Diamonds win gold at the world championships in Singapore.

Layton’s career has also been plagued by injuries, including a dislocated elbow, a slipped disc, a torn rotator cuff in 2012 which required surgery, and an ankle injury suffered while recovering from the surgery.

Awesome 1st hit out in the @TheNSWswifts dress today!! Getting super excited for the season to start #hurryupplease#swifterstrongertogether— Sharni Layton (@Sharni_Layton) February 9, 2014

“The rotator cuff injury hurt a lot, because when I first made the Australian team I told myself I didn’t want to be a player who came in and out of the team, and it was at the Australian camp that I found out I needed surgery and that it would put me out of action for three months,” Layton said. “No one likes to be injured, but it does give you more character and makes you appreciate what you’ve got. My body is feeling awesome now, and you realise how much being out there on the court means to you. I can’t wait for the season to start.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.