Vitality Nations Cup: England, South Africa, New Zealand and Jamaica set to duel
Watch every match live on Sky Sports from January 19-26 and via our streams on the Sky Sports YouTube channel
By Emma Thurston
Last Updated: 17/01/20 10:53am
The Vitality Nations Cup begins this week with England, South Africa, New Zealand and Jamaica all taking to court over four match-days in three cities across England.
The four-nation tournament marks the first Test netball being played on English soil since last year's Netball World Cup and all eight matches will be shown live on Sky Sports.
The competition commences in Nottingham before moving to Birmingham for the second match-day. The final weekend, including the placing matches on January 26, will be held at the iconic Copper Box Arena in London.
With a wealth of netball news since the culmination of last July's World Cup competition, we run the rule over every nation involved...
England's Vitality Roses
Fixtures: New Zealand (Jan 19), South Africa (Jan 22) and Jamaica (Jan 25)
What's New: After tours to Australia and Zealand, plus their Tests in South Africa, new head coach Jess Thirlby is preparing to lead a Roses side on English soil for the first time.
As was the case for their previous Tests, they will be without the likes of Jo Harten, Serena Guthrie, Helen Housby and Geva Mentor, but the highly-experienced Chelsea Pitman returns to their attack-end.
Prior to each match-day, the head coach will slim down her 14-player squad to 12 and all will know they must hit the ground running due to a meeting with the world champions on day one.
Coach's Comments: "I can't wait. I think it's a privilege to play in front of a home crowd. I'm sure that we will all embrace that and really feel the support from the crowd. I think we're going to see the best of this group to close this initial international period before we build again. I've got tonnes of information to go on and this is just another opportunity to see a slightly different group again."
Player to Watch: In England's defensive end during their three-Test tour of South Africa, Stacey Francis was a ball of energy. With the shooting line-ups in this competition, Thirlby will be looking for Francis' experience and knowledge to come to the fore. Also, keep a watchful eye on captain Natalie Haythornthwaite. She led by example in South Africa and will be inspired to add another 10 or 20 per cent to her game back on home soil.
Squad: Eleanor Cardwell, George Fisher, Sophie Drakeford-Lewis, Kadeen Corbin, Natalie Haythornthwaite (Captain), Laura Malcolm (Vice-Captain), Amy Carter, Natalie Panagarry, Jade Clarke, Chelsea Pitman, Fran Williams, Razia Quashie, Kate Shimmin and Stacey Francis.
Vitality Nations Cup 2020 - All live on Sky Sports & streamed on YouTube
|January 19||England vs New Zealand||Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham|
|Jamaica vs South Africa|
|January 22||England vs South Africa||Arena Birmingham|
|Jamaica vs New Zealand|
|January 25||England vs Jamaica||Copper Box Arena, London|
|New Zealand vs South Africa|
|January 26||1st vs 2nd place match||Copper Box Arena, London|
|3rd vs 4th place match|
New Zealand's Silver Ferns
Fixtures: England (Jan 19), Jamaica (Jan 22) and South Africa (Jan 25)
What's New: Positively the world champions are entering this competition safe in the knowledge that Noeline Taurua, who has just been awarded a Damehood, will be at the helm until the end of February 2021.
The World Cup-winning coach signed a one-year commitment just before Christmas and for this tour, Gail Parata will be her assistant coach.
Out on court, Maria Folau's presence will be missed after her retirement from all forms of netball, while Laura Langman and Katrina Rore being left back in New Zealand will also leave gaps for the side to fill.
Coach's Comments: "I want the emphasis to be on continuing momentum. It is a shift in thinking but it's that challenge that I'm really excited about. We are losing a lot of experience without Laura, Katrina and Maria, but it is a great chance to see what this next wave of Silver Ferns can bring to our game in the spotlight of International Test Netball."
Player to Watch: According to head coach Taurua, Karin Burger has 'a lot in her toolbox' and has slotted seamlessly back into the Silver Ferns' defensive circle. She's driven, hungry for work and looks well-placed to have an impactful competition after shining in the Constellation Cup series last year.
Squad: Bailey Mes, Ameliaranne Ekenasio, Te Paea Selby-Rickit, Maia Wilson, Gina Crampton, Shannon Saunders, Kimiora Poi, Whitney Souness, Karin Burger, Phoenix Karaka, Michaela Sokolich-Beatson, Jane Watson and Samantha Sinclair (Reserve).
South Africa's SPAR Proteas
Fixtures: Jamaica (Jan 19), England (Jan 22) and New Zealand (Jan 25)
What's New: The SPAR Proteas are moving forwards in a post-Norma Plummer era and now have Dorette Badenhorst as their head coach. She is assisted by Dumisani Chauke and together they will be looking to carry on the momentum that the outfit gained during the third Test against England at the start of December.
Coach's Comments: "We are going into this tournament with one thing in mind which is to win it. The spirit and mood in the camp are very high. As the coaching team we are happy with our combinations and delighted to have the world's best goal defender Karla Pretorius back in the team. Her experience and that of others will make all the difference in the world."
Player to Watch: Despite Shadine van der Merwe showing what an exceptional player she is during the recent Test series with England, we can't look any further than Pretorius. The returning defender, who was the Player of the 2019 Netball World Cup, is world-class in her field. She is one of the best intercept defenders on the planet and adds greatly to an already strong defensive end.
Squad: Ine-Marí Venter, Lenize Potgieter, Lefébre Rademan, Sigi Burger, Bongi Msomi (Captain), Izette Griesel, Romé Dreyer, Khanyisa Chawane, Phumza Maweni, Shadine van der Merwe, Zanele Vimbela and Karla Pretorius.
Jamaica's Sunshine Girls
Fixtures: South Africa (Jan 19), New Zealand (Jan 22) and England (Jan 25)
What's New: Well, it's been a slightly turbulent time for the Sunshine Girls since the culmination of the Netball World Cup.
Reports of discord between the players that represented them in Liverpool and the governing body were widespread. Tensions appear to have settled and been resolved now, however none of us will know the full impact of them until the team take to court.
Across the squad the talent is there, the question is will the new head coach Connie Francis and her players be on the same page?
Coach's Comments: "I'm very satisfied with the group that we have. It creates a very nice balance because we have the youthful players who are ambitious and want to go out there to show the world that they can play. I like how they gel with the senior players."
Player to Watch: At Super Club in New Zealand, Shimona Nelson finished with a 91 per cent average shooting percentage. At 1.95m, the 21-year-old has great natural height and she couples that with exceptional elevation too.
Squad: Jhaniele Fowler, Shimona Nelson, Shanice Beckford, Gezelle Allison, Jodi-Ann Ward, Nicole Dixon, Khadijah Williams, Shadian Hemmings, Shamera Sterling, Kadie-Ann Dehaney, Latanya Wilson and Shannika Johnson.
Sky Sports is your home of netball and live action returns on air and streamed on YouTube, with the Vitality Nations Cup. The four-nation competition starts on January 19 with England taking on the world champions New Zealand.