England netball head coach Jess Thirlby says squad are ‘on the right track’ ahead of New Zealand Tour
England netball head coach Jess Thirlby says her squad are ‘on the right track’ ahead of their three-Test series against New Zealand later this month.
The 40 year-old will lead her squad onto the international court for the first time since January.
She announced her 16-player squad earlier this week which features the return of midcourter Serena Guthrie, who is set to earn her 100th cap.
The Vitality Netball Superleague was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
However, the ANZ Premiership went ahead in the summer which means the Roses players will be looking to make up for lost time.
She said: “We're on the right track, I couldn't have asked for much more in terms of our preparation but we're also very realistic. We haven't run out in a competitive match since March and we looked on with envy at the ANZ Premiership season.”
Thirlby believes the squad have prepared well and added that she doesn’t feel threatened by the ‘favourites’ New Zealand.
“It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand who goes into this series most probably as favourites, but I don't want to get too distracted by that,” she told Sky Sports.
“I feel very duty bound as the Roses head coach to seek out opportunities and it just wouldn't have made any sense in the short and long term, not to have grabbed this opportunity with both hands and get these players out there.”
Ten of the 16 Roses players have 15 caps or fewer and players such as Imogen Allison and Halimat Adio are yet to pick up their first cap.
She added: "I'm a big believer in that we need to get better at really understanding the New Zealand way.
“That's why it's perfect that we aren't taking a ready-made squad which are perfect right now.”
The series is due to take place from October 28-November 1.