Vitality Netball Word Cup: Vitality Roses will show what they are made of, says Jade Clarke
"Bring it on, this is what we're here for," roars England's record appearance-maker as Roses advance in style
By Emma Thurston
Last Updated: 15/07/19 8:34am
Jade Clarke believes that the Roses' squad are ready to go up a level as they move into the second stage of the 2019 Vitality Netball World Cup at the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool.
The host nation, who have their sights firmly fixed on a first ever Netball World Cup title, have made a perfect start to their campaign with three victories in three days during the Preliminary Group Stage One.
An opening 64-32 win over the Uganda She-Cranes was backed up by a dominant win over Scotland and a comprehensive hammering of Samoa on Sunday.
The only dampener on their tournament so far has been losing defender Layla Guscoth to a ruptured Achilles.
It's an injury that looked serious as soon as it happened and means that she won't play any further part in what was her first World Cup.
"Last night was pretty emotional. It felt like we were grieving in a way for Layla," Clarke told Sky Sports after their win over Samoa.
"But, these situations happen and you can choose whether it makes or breaks you. For me, it adds fuel to the fire. We want to do it for Layla.
"We're not bringing anyone else in now, she's going to be on that podium if we get there. She's very rational, she's a doctor! The first thing that she said when we saw her was, 'It's going to be fine'."
Vitality Roses' Results
|Match One||England 64-32 Uganda|
|Match Two||England 70-34 Scotland|
|Match Three||England 90-24 Samoa|
Clarke is one of two Roses to have been to four previous Netball World Cups and across the board there's experience in spades. However, it's World Cup experience that comes with a recent best-finish of third.
In front of an expectant home crowd, the Vitality Roses' squad has been hailed by many as the strongest in the tournament and now the 11-strong unit must back that up, something that Clarke is acutely aware of.
"It means [without Guscoth] that everyone has to step up that little bit more and can really show what our team is made of," noted the 35-year-old who plies her club trade at Wasps Netball.
"This is what we've been working on for a few years now. Tracey put this full-time programme together to give everyone the experience and I think that we showed that last year at the Commonwealths, in the tightest games we had quite a few changes.
"No one is here for the ride, everyone is here to be a genuine option and that gives you confidence when you look at the team and think about the options that we have to go up against different opponents."
I think it is quite exciting [the combinations available]. Obviously being one player down, we've got to be a little bit more strategic about where we make our changes. But I'm really pleased with where we are at and at the end of the day we just have to win every game to get to the final. That's where we want to be
Tracey Neville on England's options moving forwards
The Roses' options have already been clearly highlighted over the first three days with no starting seven having been the same and all players being used during matches.
On top of that, unforeseen combinations have already been made by head coach Tracey Neville. Most notably a Helen Housby (WA), Jo Harten (GA) and Rachel Dunn (GS) combination which will have given other head coaches something to ponder on.
Following the Preliminary Group Stage the top three teams in each group move together to form Groups F and G and it's here where we will see some of the top-ranked sides meeting each other for the first time.
The Roses' progression will set up a mouthwatering encounter with the second-ranked side in the world, Jamaica, after their 55-52 loss to South Africa on Sunday.
The Sunshine Girls' squad is packed with talent and their aerial style will give England plenty to think about. Without question, it will be a step up in intensity and be their first big test.
Sky Sports expert Tamsin Greenway believes that Jamaica will go into the fixture battle-hardened but have given Neville's Roses some clues as to how to combat them.
"England need to get their tactics right because the reality is that they have not played at this level yet in the competition," noted Greenway.
"That [match] will have helped Jamaica because they have gone out against South Africa and have stepped up to the pace so they will arrive with that same level of intensity.
"England need to look at what was successful about South Africa and it plays into their hands with Serena Guthrie, Jade Clarke and Eboni Usoro-Brown shutting down on the transverse line. Then allowing Mentor to match up against Fowler."
So what of Clarke's thoughts about the competition moving into more testing waters. Is she relishing what's on the way? Like all of these Roses rising to their challenge, of course she is...
"We're all ready for one of those tough games,"
"We want to feel what it feels like playing in front a home crowd when it's a tight game. Just bring it on, this is what we're here for and this is what we have trained for so we'll enjoy it."
Watch every match of the 2019 Vitality Netball World Cup live on Sky Sports. Coverage continues on Sunday with the final matches of the first preliminary stage and stay up to date at SkySports.com/netball and @SkyNetball