Netball

Pure As: Jane Watson

Dynamic Silver Ferns defender Jane Watson shares her heartrending and brave story in the final episode of the Pure As documentary series.

The fading scar just below Jane Watson's left shoulder is the only clue to her until-now untold story, of the challenges that have tormented the netball world champion.

The dynamic, tenacious Silver Ferns defender battled with heart problems, the death of her partner, and a rare infectious disease which could have ended her netball career before it truly began.

Watson shares her emotional story in the final episode of Pure As, a mini documentary series made by Netball NZ, following six of the Silver Ferns on their different paths to winning the 2019 Netball World Cup. 

In her final year at St Kevin's College in Oamaru, Watson began experiencing blackouts and dizzy spells. Doctors found her heart was stopping for up to eight seconds at a time, and she needed surgery to implant a pacemaker.

"It was a big shock," Watson admits. "But it didn't stop me doing anything."

Then in 2010, Watson's partner died, and she escorted him back to his family in Samoa. In the days after she returned home, she fell ill and was put in isolation at Timaru Hospital.

Tests showed she had diphtheria, a serious bacterial infection of the nose and throat. When her health deteriorated, as the infection moved to her heart, she was rushed to Christchurch for surgery to remove her pacemaker.

"It was very scary," says Watson, breaking down in tears. "Having everything come at once was a massive shock. It was a very challenging time."

Today, the Tactix captain is happy and healthy and grateful for her family - and the netball family that has grown around her - and the support they continue to give her.

The weekly Pure As series, shown on www.silverfans.co.nz and LockerRoom every Saturday, has given a rare insight into the Ferns' individual journeys towards uplifting the World Cup in Liverpool. The first in the series featured Ameliaranne Ekenasiofollowed by Casey Kopua, coach Dame Noeline Taurua, captain Laura Langman and Katrina Rore.

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