England's Rachel Dunn relives Netball World Cup magic with Sky Sports watchalong
Dunn: "You prepare with the psychology for shooting the winning goal and going on at the crucial moments, but this took me from left field really!"
By Emma Thurston
Last Updated: 29/05/20 10:56am
The M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool has a capacity of 11,000 people, imagine hearing all of them chanting your name and willing you to take to the stage...
Of course, that's a usual occurrence for the music artists who, under normal times, hold concerts there throughout the year. However, for England's shooter Rachel Dunn it is far from the norm.
With just over two minutes to go in England's bronze medal play-off against South Africa, captain Serena Guthrie left the court to a huge ovation. The crowd knew that with a 16-goal cushion, their side had the bronze medal in the bag, and they were in fine voice.
It was around that point, or perhaps even slightly before, when the first chants flew around the arena. On court, the Roses' focus remained and the crowd tried their hand again, screaming the words which have now become iconic: "We want Dunn".
While sitting on the bench, the focus of their attention didn't know quite how to react.
"To start with you don't quite hear it because you're that focused on the game. The girls on court were saying that they didn't really know what was happening because they were so focused," Dunn said during the bronze play-off watchalong on Sky Sports.
"It's always hard on the bench, you can't enjoy it like a member of the crowd because you might have to go on at any point.
"I wasn't entirely sure what to do. I think that you can see me mouth to Layla (Guscoth) at one point, 'what do I do?'
"It's not the sort of thing that you prepare for really, is it? You prepare with the psychology to shoot the winning goal and for going on at the crucial moments, but this sort of thing took me from left field!"
I’m more prepared to shoot the winning shot than I am for that circumstance! A massively proud moment and just honoured to have been in that situation as a player.
Dunn is one of the longest-serving members of the Vitality Roses and this Netball World Cup was her third. She missed out on selection for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, something she described as being "massively tough", and yet didn't give up on her quest to take to court in at a home Netball World Cup.
She seized the day during the 2019 Quad Series against the Aussie Diamonds, taking to court for the second quarter and being instrumental in turning the game with a 18-10 quarter in the Roses' favour.
There's no doubt that it was a performance which to prove to head coach Tracey Neville that her experience would be essential in Liverpool.
However, crowds don't just chant players' names because of their experience. When it comes to Dunn, what captures netball fans' hearts is her personality and that's something Tamsin Greenway knows all about.
"She's a great person and off the court as well. A lot of England girls have always said that having someone like Rach in the team is crucial.
"She's happy to sit on the bench, yes she wants to be on the court, but she is a team player and not many players are like that. She will literally look after the team on and off the court and just loves the game."
Dunn, like her captain Serena Guthrie who also joined for the watchalong, was reliving the match in Liverpool for the first time and recalled the magnitude of it.
"I've not really seen it back since and it's bringing all of the emotions back," Dunn said.
"We wanted the gold and we wanted to be in that final in our home World Cup. But, I think it was the best end [possible] after the day before.
Back to the chants and Dunn recalled exactly what she was thinking after she realised what was happening.
"I thought there's not a lot I can do here, I'm just going to sit here and it's nothing to do with me who plays.
"I had a little look down [the bench] and thought, Okay there's no movement. We'll just carry on. Then, Jo Harten made eye-contact and that was it. Jo's called time!
"I went on at GA and I hadn't played there for a while, so I ran around like a headless chicken," she said with a smile. "I dropped back into the circle as soon as I could because I'm at home there."
Everyone is mad that I missed the shot. If I could have had any control over my arm at that point, that would have been amazing.
"You do prepare yourself to come on and have an impact, but this was not quite what I was expecting. It was amazing and something that I didn't see coming.
"For the whole event the fans were amazing, and it was an honour to be able to play for and represent the country in a home World Cup.
"It was a massively proud moment and just honoured to have been in that situation as a player."