In this week’s column, Tamsin Greenway takes a look at the Vitality Roses three-test series against New Zealand, which begins live on Wednesday Sky Sports.
Excited? I am. It is absolutely amazing to have Northern Hemisphere netball on the horizon and to talk about the English players preparing to take on an international court.
That’s not to say we didn’t enjoy watching and discussing the ANZ Premiership and Suncorp Super Netball, but it will be really good to see the talent prevail in this part of the world and how they stack up against the world champions claim.
The fact that this tour is in the current environment has taken so much work and so much has happened.
Jess Thirlby, unable to date the team, is an incredibly unique and strange situation for her and the team. The quarantine process that the English players went through was very strange for all of them too.
Overall, everyone is very grateful to those who have managed to realize this international series on the world stage. The past few months have really shown how adaptable people can be. I have certainly learned that in my role as head coach in Scotland and in my future I know that we must all continue to be as adaptable as possible.
On the new series of From the court I asked Jess about her goals for this show and it was really interesting to hear her thoughts and goals. She announced that this will be a performance and development tour for the Vitality Roses.
At first glance, performance and development don’t go hand in hand, but the reality is that eight Roses players are missing to play Super Netball in Suncorp. This group of players has a huge focus on development. In international netball, however, you never get away from this performance element.
New Zealand v England’s Vitality Roses – Live on Sky Sports
|First test||Wednesday October 28th||Live from 6 a.m. at the Sky Sports Main Event and Mix|
|Second test||Friday October 30th||Live from 6 a.m. at the Sky Sports Main Event and Mix|
|Third test||Sunday 1st November||Live from 6 a.m. at the Sky Sports Main Event, in the arena and in the mix|
For England, the days are over when it is acceptable to lose 15 or 20 goals. You have to watch your performance all the time and win every game. I’ve toured in the past and I knew the squad we took on was more about scoreboard damage control.
Jess talks about England going out and winning, and her team surprises everyone. When you look at the Silver Ferns roster and add that they are at home and have had a full ANZ Premiership season, that is a huge challenge for the English roster. However, with the talent available, they have to believe that they can.
England Vitality Roses Squad for New Zealand tour
|Eleanor Cardwell||27||George Fisher||12|
|Kadeen Corbin||70||Sophie Drakeford-Lewis||2|
|Yasmin Parsons||3||Laura Malcolm||28|
|Serena Guthrie||98||Gabriella Marshall||6|
|Jade Clarke||176||Imogen Allison||0|
|Amy Carter||4th||Fran Williams||13|
|Raids Quashie||12||Vicki Oyesola||4th|
|Jodie Gibson||25th||Halimat Adio||3|
There are a number of different players on both teams that I would really like to see in court. Starting with England’s Vitality Roses and the defensive circle I want to focus on.
Back at the Vitality Nations Cup, there was always an experienced defender in the circle, be it Kate Shimmin or Stacey Francis, who excelled. This time Razia Quashie, Fran Williams, Halimat Adio and Vicki Oyesola will do it alone. Also, to some extent, Jodie Gibson for having returned from the game from a long time due to an injury.
I am so excited to see what you can do. As a defensive unit, and especially as a younger defensive unit, you enter the international netball arena under much less pressure than a young attacking unit. I want to see if these players have done their homework to face a Kiwi squad and if they go to court with a fearless demeanor.
One area that worries me about Vitality Roses is the WA position. Looking at the roster, I suspect Laura Malcolm will take over that bib and I’m just not sure if I can move forward, that’s her best position in international netball.
I love Laura as a C / WD and I think that’s where she thrives. I hope they have given her lots of opportunities in training and helped her develop the role since they got back together. Building the connections and having the confidence to achieve that goal are vital in this position, especially against New Zealand. If anyone is up to the challenge, it’s Laura.
During the series, I’d also like to see Yasmin Parsons stay in the WA bib for some time to see if she’ll be a real contender to make this point her own trailblazer. Chelsea Pitman won’t be there forever, and Nat Haythornthwaite plays in both positions. So I think England needs to find another WA who can step up and challenge.
When it comes to the silver ferns, I was quite surprised by Dame Noeline Taurua’s roster, but in a great way because it showed me how much work they have done to improve their depth of talent.
We all know that some really important players retired over the last year – Maria Folau, Casey Kopua and Laura Langman – and in this series they miss others too, either due to injury or other reasons, like Phoenix Karaka, the she is expecting first child and Kimiora Poi are not selected.
Silver Ferns’ Squad
|Karin Burger||Gina Crampton|
|Ameliaranne Ekenasio (captain)||Monica Falkner|
|Sulu Fitzpatrick||Kelly Jury|
|Claire Kersten||Shannon Saunders|
|Whitney Souness||Jane Watson|
|Sam Winders||Maia Wilson|
I’m so excited to see Monica play Falkner, I heard on The Grapevine that she will get time in court during this series, and I love watching new young shooters. I’ve heard so many good things about her game so I’m excited to see how she’ll do when she comes on the pitch.
I also want to see what Noeline is up to with Jane Watson. where she decides to play her on the defensive and who has her as a partner. Since Karaka has been out for a while and Katrina Rore isn’t in that mix, it will be so interesting to see how her head coach shapes her defensive end.
When it comes to winning and losing the tests myself, there are a few key areas that I will focus on as I watch with my morning cup of tea. First, I’ll take a closer look at New Zealand’s shooting range.
It’s an area that England really needs to bother and we’ll see how much homework they’ve done to do that. I want England’s defenders to hold on to the task from the first minute to the last. It’s all very good to talk about New Zealand’s style, but it’s a whole different perspective to face and counteract.
England are now falling into a great pattern of play against Australia and Jamaica, they are fast. However, against New Zealand it took them a little bit of time to get started as it’s a unique way of playing the game.
On the other end, I want to see England’s WA-GA combo and how effective it can be. You can’t take a moment not to think about it. The way they defend themselves keeps you wondering if you can throw the ball.
The key will be how Serena Guthrie can support them and how strong England’s archer is under the post. As I said earlier, I hope the Roses have done a lot of work to cement this WA-GA combo no matter which route they choose.
Another thing that Jess mentioned during From the court was that she’s going to make changes to her lineup and that people should be expected to get chances.
I really hope that happens and that the players out there get a chance to prove whether or not they can cut the mustard on the big stage. As a coach, it’s not always easy to be under pressure in a friendly. However, there is no better time to try these players out.
Of course, things will be even more difficult when Jess is in England and can’t stand trial in New Zealand, but I’m sure she will have a clear process with Kat Ratnapala and Colette Thomson on how to approach both games -day and the 60- Minutes game.
I look forward to seeing how Noeline handles her changes too. What goals will she achieve in the games? Like the Vitality Nations Cup and roll combinations, will it turn on and off until the last game? Will she tactically stick to a line-up and take them to England? I don’t think we’ll know until the games are over.
As you can see, I’m very excited to see this series of tests for so many different reasons. I think England have enough talent in their squad to bring the game to New Zealand.
Whether or not they can make it when they have so little gaming experience and don’t do it at home is a massive question. There are ways to mine the silver ferns, but this is less and less under Noeline’s guidance. It’s going to be tough for England … but certainly not impossible, bring it up.
Live netball returns to Sky Sports with the Vitality Roses against the Silver Ferns in a three-test series in Hamilton. Join us for the first test on Wednesday from 6 a.m. Sky Sports Main Event and Mix.