Laura Malcolm (centre) played for England against Jamaica in January.
After a flight of 30 hours, two weeks of isolation in a hotel, head coach Jess Tirlbee, five Covid 19 tests and nine months without international net, the English rose is ready to play with the world champion in New Zealand.
The roses will meet the silver fern in Hamilton in a series of three tests that began Wednesday after the government gave them the green light to enter the country under strict coronavirus protocols.
The unit arrived on the 9th. October in New Zealand and immediately isolated itself.
They were given a bike to train in their room, access to sports TV channels and time to train outside so they could spend the time and stay in good shape.
It was so professional – the government told us exactly what to do and did an incredible job to take the games to the next level, said co-captain Laura Malcolm of England.
We passed all the Covid tests, everything went well and we could slowly grow our bladders in larger groups and train as a whole group for a week.
The preparation of the world’s number three team was in the limelight before the start, and head coach Terleby had to remain positive after his coronavirus test.
Tirlbee, who is symptom-free, says it’s a shame to miss the tour, but she relies on her local coaches – Kat Ratnapala and her assistant Colette Thomson – to make decisions during a live match.
Malcolm, 29, says it wouldn’t be perfect without Tirlbee, but coaches Ratnapala and Thomson made sure the extra challenge didn’t hit the team too hard.
Malcolm said he felt Jess was still with us. We feel her presence. She was in session all night last night.
Regarding the way the coach works on match days, Malcolm is interested in a high-tech solution that would enable Thirlby to enter the field.
I hope it’s a Star Wars hologram. She was joking.
This is a young English national team with seven players with less than 10 caps, and one of them is missing several experienced Australian players, including Jo Harten and Geva Mentor.
They also lost to New Zealand in their last two games – the Nations Cup in their country in January and the semi-finals of the 2019 World Cup – and turned out to be hard losers.
We’re losers, but it’s a great opportunity to compete with the best and reach the benchmark, said Tirlbee live on Radio 5.
No other country knows when it will be possible to play international netball.
Malcolm (left) and Rosa’s team travelled to New Zealand without Jess Tirlbee’s head coach after passing the Covid 19 test with a positive result.
And Malcolm added: We’re here to compete – we’re here to accept a series of tests.
We can’t even have a nice workout together without wanting to fight.
Most New Zealand players were able to play a full but slightly humid season at home, while the English Super League was abandoned in May after less than four rounds due to the coronavirus.
Malcolm explains that the few months of isolation in the UK have helped the team prepare for quarantine abroad and brought them closer together.
This unexpected downtime also allowed injured players to recover longer. Defender Jody Gibson, who won the Commonwealth gold in 2018, was selected after overcoming a severe knee injury that excluded her from the World Cup.
The lack of a full season in England means that we have not had to play by little niggers, which is usually not the case, according to Malcolm of the 28-member Central Court.
And unlike most sports in England, the tests take place in the presence of spectators – an opportunity that the team benefits from and enjoys.
You have to respect the fact that New Zealand had a normal season and we didn’t have one, but we prepared them as well as we could, Malcolm said.
It’s a great opportunity to soak up the atmosphere of the competition and build these Rosa tyres – some old, some new.
We really want to get back to the game we love and back to the game.
- Wednesday the 28th. October, Claudlands Arena, Hamilton, 6:00 GMT.
- Friday the 30th. October, Claudlands Arena, Hamilton, 6:00 GMT.
- Sunday the 1st. November, Claudlands Arena, Hamilton, 6:00 GMT.
England: Eleanor Cardwell, George Fisher, Caden Corbin, Sophie Drakeford-Lewis, Yasmine Parsons, Laura Malcolm, Serena Guthrie, Gabriella Marshall, Jade Clarke, Imogen Allison, Amy Carter, Fran Williams, Razia Quaashi, Vicki Oyesola, Jody Gibson, Halimat Adio…
New Zealand : Amelioranne Ekenacio, Monica Falkner, Maya Wilson, Gina Crampton, Claire Kersten, Shannon Sanders, Whitney Sauness, Sam Winders, Karin Burger, Sulu Fitzpatrick, Kelly Yuri, Jane Watson.