England Roses coming home from South Africa with confidence, says Jess Thirlby

"The squad are going to take huge confidence from being able to arrive on an international stage, away from home and get a win as we have done."


Last Updated: 02/12/19 10:24am

A less experienced Roses squad secured the series after the first two Tests

Jess Thirlby believes her England Roses squad will take great confidence away from their series victory in South Africa and may well keep a largely similar player group for the Vitality Nations Cup in January.

The new head coach formally commenced her tenure by leading the team to a 2-1 series victory in Cape Town at the weekend.

The side went into the final Test with an unassailable lead following an extra-time 63-58 thriller and a 59-53 result. The final Test saw the Roses fall to a six-goal defeat however Thirlby believes that they will all take great lessons away with them from South Africa.

"The squad are going to take huge confidence from being able to arrive on an international stage, away from home and get a win as we have done," the head coach to Sky Sports in South Africa.

"To have had a broader base of players out here that achieved that is incredible. With all due respect to those that aren't with us or who are taking rests, it's actually a great thing because these guys know that they have done it without some of those players.

"Can you imagine if we come back together, what a luxury of a position that will be, to be able to blend people back?"

With a new four-year international cycle starting after the summer's Netball World Cup,Thirlby named a 14-player squad for this series which contained just four individuals who were part of the Roses' bronze medal campaign in Liverpool.

In total, six of the players in South Africa were under the age of 24 with Kate Shimmin gaining her first cap and Sophie Drakeford-Lewis adding a second to her tally during the series.

Of course, Thirlby and her players would have wanted to have returned home with a clean sweep of victories, however the head coach realises that their loss on Sunday will prove to be useful.

"I know that this sounds strange but it's also really important that we lose," Thirlby reflected.

"We need to win together and lose together to understand how we're going to operate as a group.

"I think that the difference between the third match and the first two was just that we weren't quite as composed and as clinical in those pressure moments," she added.

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

The next stop for the whole squad is the Vitality Nations Cup at the turn of the year - the four-team tournament will be live on Sky Sports and will be played across four match days in Nottingham, Birmingham and London.

England's Roses will be joined by South Africa, the world champions New Zealand and Jamaica and Thirlby has already hinted that selection may remain fairly consistent as they continue to build.

"Wholesale changes [in selection], I wouldn't say that, otherwise we undo the work that we've been doing in the first three months," the head coach noted.

"But, there may be athletes that want to put their name in the hat for selection who didn't do so for the South Africa series. Also, there are athletes who didn't make the cut that are really working hard back home.

"I have huge faith in the fact that everybody is really going for it and are really pushing to be a part of an experience like this."

Sky Sports is your home of netball and live action returns with the Vitality Nations Cup in January 2020. The four-nation competition starts on January 19 with England taking on the world champions New Zealand.