27 October 2020

England netball head coach Jess Thirlby does not expect her players to play ‘perfectly’ against New Zealand

England netball head coach Jess Thirlby has said, given her players have not been on an international court since January, she isn’t expecting them to play ‘perfectly’ against New Zealand.

The Roses are playing three matches against the Silver Ferns, on October 28, 30 and November 1, on a tour of New Zealand. However, Thirlby has had to take charge virtually after she tested positive for coronavirus.

She told The Telegraph: “Do I except players to perform perfectly? Absolutely not. The backdrop in England and our journey to get here is unique.

“You’re taking on the world champions on their home soil, off the back of not playing a game since March. But as long as I can take assurances that my team is physically ready - which they are - why wouldn’t we take this opportunity of being one of two teams getting some international exposure? 

“We’re an international team so we should always have the intent to go out and compete to win. But we have to be realistic. We’re under no illusions that we go into this as underdogs from a performance point of view. New Zealand are very much the favourites. You expect them to be sharper, match-fit and match-ready. But we have absolutely nothing to lose."

New Zealand v England will tip off at 6am and will be available to watch on Sky Sports Main Event.

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