Thirlby gives young hopefuls a chance as World Cup players opt out of tour
Jess Thirlby, the new England head coach, has named a youthful squad for her first tour in charge, with a “new generation” of players eager to stake their claim as the future of the national side. Thirlby took over from Tracey Neville after a World Cup campaign in Liverpool in which England won bronze, but fell short of their stated aim of making a first final.
Just two members of that World Cup squad, Fran Williams and Nat Panagarry, have made themselves immediately available for selection, with England’s most senior players taking time out and, in some cases, considering their international future.
That presents an opportunity for a number of youngsters to prove themselves in a developmental, behind-closed-doors tour of Australia and New Zealand this month. Williams and Panagarry were yesterday both named in a squad of 15, with former Australia defender Kate Shimmin another notable inclusion after switching allegiance last month.
“Jess is not naive and knows it’s going to be really hard,” Williams said. “She knows it’s going to be hard to even sustain what’s happened before under Tracey.”
Panagarry said winning her first international medal at the World Cup was “monumental”, with the tournament heralding a “new era for netball” in this country.
But she admitted the entire England set-up was determined not to repeat the “devastation” of missing the final at the next World Cup in Cape Town in 2023.