Netball: Harlow’s Jo Harten made Vice-Captain as England announce squad to defend Commonwealth Game title
Sport / Mon 20th Jun 2022 am30 11:53am
DEFENDING Commonwealth Games champions Team England haS today announced the names of the 12 players who have been selected as part of the squad to take part in the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games this summer.
In addition to naming the squad, Head Coach Jess Thirlby has also confirmed the appointment of Natalie Metcalf as Captain, with Jo Harten as Vice-Captain.
Supporting the squad of 12 will be four additional reserve players.
Jess Thirlby commented: “No longer is it as easy to predict an England 12 such is the competition for places and depth in quality within our programme. We have worked hard over the last few years to ensure that the internal competition is high in order to drive the intensity needed in our environment to best prepare the team for big stages such as Birmingham 2022. The player group have been outstanding in embracing this challenge and the final 12 represents that hard work. I want to both congratulate and thank all the athletes that have been a part of this journey so far.
“With 925 caps between them and 21 Commonwealth Games appearances we can take real confidence from the experience in the team. What’s even more exciting is to see Commonwealth Games debutants such as Layla, Laura, Eleanor and Sophie who I know will add great energy to the team and have benefitted from increased international exposure in recent seasons readying them for the task at hand.
“The squad allows us the positional coverage and diversity to be able to counteract any of our toughest opposition and as important a consideration is ensuring we have the robustness both physically and mentally to sustain and elevate our performance levels over a 10-day tournament and the unique conditions that presents. Every single player knows what finals netball looks like and what’s required with many coming off the back of those within their domestic seasons both home and overseas which is invaluable. With those experiences we can continue to build momentum in our final prep and the collective leadership across this 12 is outstanding and one of our greatest strengths.
“We look forward to playing in another big tournament and representing our fans on home soil so soon after Liverpool in 2019, something unlikely to happen again in our lifetimes and one which we are not taking for granted.”
The squad features seven players who were victorious at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, whilst Eleanor Cardwell, Sophie Drakeford-Lewis, Layla Guscoth and Laura Malcolm all make their Commonwealth Games debuts.
Newly appointed Captain Natalie Metcalf said: “It’s a huge honour to be selected for the upcoming Commonwealth Games. To get the chance to represent Team England at home in front of our amazing fans is so exciting. Having the opportunity to wear the red dress for England is always an honour and I can’t wait to see what we can do as a team together in Birmingham.
“Growing up I always wanted to play for England and being asked to captain the team is more than I ever could have imagined. I feel truly honoured to have been asked and I hope to do everyone proud.”
Jade Clarke, England’s most capped player having secured 185 caps across a 20-year career who has featured in four previous Commonwealth Games, said: “It’s a huge honour to be selected for the Commonwealth Games. Being part of Team England with all the other sports as one, as well as it being a home game makes it so special. I can’t wait to put on the red dress in front of a home crowd with this team and to represent England with pride.”
The netball schedule commences on Friday 29th July, with the Final being staged on Sunday 7th August.
David Parsons, Performance Director at England Netball, added: “To have the opportunity, on home soil to defend the title that was won so memorably on the Gold Coast is hugely exciting for everyone involved. The four years since 2018 has seen the introduction of some very talented young athletes alongside their more experienced and celebrated teammates to give a really balanced squad going into the Games. And with an impressive set of results and performances in recent months, there’s a confidence and a belief that the team can compete with the best in the world.”
Team England’s Chef de Mission, Mark England OBE, welcomed the players to the team: “After Team England’s success at the 2018 Games, I know the Birmingham crowd will be excited to see the 2022 team in action this summer. I am delighted to welcome the athletes to Team England and wish them every success as they aim to ‘Bring It Home’.”