England’s absent international netball schedule got a big boost after it was announced they would travel to New Zealand next month to tour against world champions Silver Ferns.
The Vitality Roses will play three Tests against New Zealand in Hamilton starting October 28, all of which will be broadcast on Sky Sports. Their first competitive stunt since the January Africa Cup of Nations, the tour was a major development and a positive step for a sport that has been dormant in England since March, after a domestic season had to be abandoned due to Covid-19.
The Taini Jamison trophy will be at stake, but before competing, the squad must be quarantined for two weeks. The England squad returned to training in July, while New Zealand’s domestic league, ANZ Premier League, continued throughout the summer and ended last month, so the Silver Fern will likely be closer to fit.
Vitality Roses Head Coach, Jess Thirlby, said: “We are very excited about the prospect of a tie with Silver Fern. This will be the first time Vitality Roses have played together since January, which feels like an old memory now.
“Neither of us is prepared to deal with the impact of COVID-19, that means the international calendar has been affected and Roses will have to adapt to a new way of training in the meantime. However, as a team they have worked together through these difficult times and I am delighted that they will now have the opportunity to gain more international exposure after a troubling year and as we build towards the home of the Commonwealth Games.
“We realize things are still very uncertain around the world because of the pandemic and we have taken every precaution to keep our players and coaching staff safe, which we will continue to do as we depart and return from New Zealand. I hope the fans will be excited to see Vitality Roses on their screens again after a long time, we will be there representing the netball family and proudly say we will bring our athletes back to the international stage. “
England last played New Zealand in January, losing a landslide 64-48, so will go into the game as underdogs. The Roses squad will be announced early next week, and will likely include players currently in Australia and New Zealand, who play their domestic netball in the Southern Hemisphere.
“Credit must go to the two respective netball countries for working together to make this happen,” said Silver Ferns coach Dame Noeline Taurua. “I know it has not been an easy season for England but this series really marks the beginning of the next four-year cycle for both countries heading into the next World Cup. This series will be great for netball games. “