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England’s young netball players are ‘scary’ good, says Eleanor Cardwell ahead of South Africa series

England face South Africa in home December series without captain Natalie Metcalf and goal shooter Helen Housby but players drafted into squad should be feared; Watch Game One on Sky Sports Arena and Sky Sports YouTube on Tuesday from 6.45pm

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England's Fran Williams, Eleanor Cardwell and Sasha Glasgow look ahead to the three-match series against South Africa in December with added excitement around the squad after the Netball World Cup in the summer

Eleanor Cardwell is convinced England’s ‘scary raw talent’ will be an exciting prospect when they face South Africa on Tuesday. 

The Vitality Roses welcome South Africa in their first home series since winning a Netball World Cup silver medal with the three-match tournament starting in Manchester before heading to Nottingham for back-to-back weekend games.

Captain Natalie Metcalf and goal shooter Helen Housby announced in November they will be taking extended breaks from netball.

"I think these young guns have got something to prove," said Cardwell.

"I've been impressed with them for years. I've been watching the Super League and I've played with Berri [Neil] with Manchester Thunder. I've been raving about them.

"They've all got such raw talent and to be put into this competitive environment they're having to develop their game in that situation as well.

"It's very exciting for the country and for netball. The more experience they get on the international stage then the more confident they're going to feel in that space as well, so that's going to make them grow and it's quite scary actually."

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Eleanor Cardwell was part of the Vitality Roses that won silver medals at the Netball World Cup in South Africa earlier this year
Image: Cardwell was part of the Vitality Roses that finished runners-up at the Netball World Cup in South Africa earlier this year

England were beaten 59-52 by New Zealand in a series decider as the Silver Ferns retained the Taini Jamison Trophy in Hamilton in September.

However, the squad remains excited about facing South Africa and are heading into the clash with a blended team.

"We've got people who were involved in the World Cup, reserves, girls who have just come off the Test series in New Zealand," said team-mate Fran Williams.

"There's such a range of experience and also match readiness within the squad. We're raring to go and it's a new style of play.

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Relive some of the best moments between England and South Africa as the two sides go head to head for a three-match series starting on December 5, live on Sky Sports

"South Africa are always a challenge and I think if you look at the history of English and South African battles in netball, it's very competitive. We've even had some draws against them in the past so they're always up for the challenge and so will we be."

Cardwell added: "We've built in some experience with some inexperience which is amazing because it's like we've got fight and passion. We've got a mixture of everything.

"So, if you can get that balance right I think we'll attack South Africa in an aggressive way and put it to them. The camp is full of excitement."

The Vitality Roses did not come up against South Africa in the World Cup but Cardwell remains aware of the threat they pose and the squad will be using video analysis to plot out their tactics.

England team celebrate their silver medals at the final of the Netball World Cup against Australia in Cape Town
Image: England team celebrate their silver medals at the final of the Netball World Cup against Australia in Cape Town

"They're also full of experience and inexperience. They've got a lot of talent that they've had there for years but also a lot of talent that is new and I've not played against them before," Cardwell said.

"They have now got a lot more players over in the Super League so that's great for them and for international netball.

"It's going to be a lot of video analysis and looking at what they can do and what their strengths and weaknesses are and how we can combat them. It's going to be a challenge especially because they can throw anyone on."

Cardwell added: "It's going to be exciting to watch because there's a lot to show on both sides and it's not just going to be one-sided. Both teams will be battling it out and see where they are at that moment in time."

The 29-year-old featured in the Sky Sports documentary 'Fit for Purpose' where she spoke about the importance of the sports bra and the reaction she got to speaking about it openly on social media.

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Cardwell talks about the importance of the sports bra and the reaction to her openly talking about it on social media

Reflecting on the success of World Cup, Cardwell said it was a proud moment when she realised how much outreach and interaction there was.

"I was loving the amount of people jumping on to netball. It reached a lot more people and showed just how proud everyone was of us, especially after the previous year, I don't think people were expecting us to get on to the podium," Cardwell reflected.

"We got a lot of messages saying the hard work was worth it and a lot of fans were getting on board too. We were disappointed not winning the gold but getting a silver medal around the neck was very rewarding. It was a proud moment."

Despite all the success Cardwell has accumulated since making her debut in a Home Nations clash against Northern Ireland in 2016, the mornings are still often filled with nerves.

"I definitely get nervous, it tends to be in the morning when I wake up. When we're together in the changing room there's a little bit of anticipation," she said.

"The opposition doesn't matter, we've got each other so the nerves settle and as soon as the whistle goes, you're doing your job and playing a sport that you love. So, it's no different to every other day in your life and I think the nerves just go."

England Netball's 14-player squad for South Africa series

Halimat Adio, Imogen Allison, Eleanor Cardwell, Amy Carter, Funmi Fadoju, Sasha Glasgow, Hannah Joseph, Berri Neil, Jayda Pechova, Razia Quashie, Ellie Rattu, Alicia Scholes, Olivia Tchine, Fran Williams

England vs South Africa series:

December 5: Manchester, 7pm

December 9: Nottingham, 5pm

December 10: Nottingham, 2pm

You can watch England take on South Africa in their home series between December 5-10, live on Sky Sports. Stream the netball and more with NOW I Get Sky Sports


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