Netball: England star Sasha Corbin targets Tri-Series glory in London
Sasha Corbin says England are ready to build on the finest year in their history, ahead of January's Tri-Series.
By Kate Burlaga
Last Updated: 10/02/14 12:47pm
Corbin, a bustling wing attack who plays for Hertfordshire Mavericks at club level, was part of the side that last year went unbeaten until a late blip against South Africa, whitewashing world champions Australia along the way.
A Tri-Series against New Zealand and Jamaica - sides that sandwich third-placed England in the world rankings - is the next challenge for players belatedly enjoying the spotlight, their success earning them the title 'Team of the Year' at December's Sunday Times and Sky Sports Sportswomen of the Year Awards.
Three matches over four days at London's Wembley Arena and the Olympic Park's Copper Box - live on Sky Sports - will make for a final workout on home soil before this summer's Glasgow Games and Corbin hopes the crowds will come.
"We're really looking forward to it," the Londoner told skysports.com. "We know it's going to be challenging, we're playing the second and fourth best sides in the world, but it's going to be great preparation for the Commonwealths.
"We're playing in two massive arenas. In January, when we beat Australia at Wembley, the crowds were electric. We just want more and more people to turn up, be entertained and cheer us on because the support so far has really got us through."
England could need it: reigning Commonwealth champions eased to a 3-0 series win here three years ago, while Jamaica edged a tight 2-1 victory when the sides met in 2012. Both, says Corbin, will pose different threats.
"Jamaica have really tall shooters. They're explosive, powerful athletes and we don't come across that all the time so we'll need to stay composed under pressure. New Zealand are renowned for their defence; they space-mark, so it will be all about how our attackers can get through. It'll take teamwork and communication on court to break them down. They're going to come out hard so we need to come out harder."
Corbin, who will travel with the squad for a recce in Glasgow before the series opener against Jamaica on 18 January, talks boldly about maintaining momentum. Coach Anna Mayes, who took the job back in 2011 and wants world championship glory in five years, has stuck unwaveringly to her belief that this side still has much more to achieve. Her mantra has sunk in.
"Last year was amazing but now it's about pushing on," Corbin says firmly. "We're always trying to do better; we come together as a team, we do our video analysis. We want to continue that upwards spiral and if we do have a blip, it's how we learn from it.
"Anna has instilled so much belief in us. I don't think any other coach has done that before. She understands her players, talks to us individually and sets us goals. That's been the difference."
Netball stayed in the shade as London 2012 cast its glow but increased publicity - Sky Sports will show all 12 rounds of the new Superleague season, as well as all home internationals, for the next three years - could help secure professional status for women who must fit training around jobs and study.
"We've never had this much attention before. The dream is to become professional so we can train and play every day. We didn't go to the Olympics but hopefully we'll have that feelgood factor in Glasgow. We know we can sell out arenas and now we have to take that next step."
One urge Corbin might have to put on hold is that for a showboat celebration. Her post-match backflips with fellow international and younger sister Kadeen have become legendary.
"Anna has told us to save the backflips, for now at least," she laughs. "But if we win a Commonwealth Games, if we win a World Championships, we'll go all out!"
The ZEO International Netball Tri-Series is live on Sky Sports 3 from 17-21 January. England's first game is against Jamaica on Saturday, 18 January (6pm).