Commonwealth Games gold medallist Serena Guthrie has been named as captain for the now underway Vitality Roses tour, which will see the squad take on the Silver Ferns in New Zealand before heading to Australia to face the Australian Diamonds.
Guthrie will lead the squad just as she did when England last faced the Silver Ferns in 2020 as part of the Cadbury Netball Series. The 31-year-old earned her 100th cap during the series last year having been an integral part of the international set-up since making her debut against Malawi in 2008.
The mid-court star has represented her country in several major tournaments including Netball World Cups and Commonwealth Games, winning the latter in 2018 and captaining the squad to a bronze medal at the 2019 Vitality Netball World Cup on home soil.
On her captaincy, Guthrie said: “I am absolutely honoured to be given this role, this group are incredible, and they inspire the country, they inspire me, and they inspire the fans back home and we are looking forward to putting some great performances out on the court.
“We appreciate your [the fans] support; we can feel you across the water. I’m just looking forward to getting out there with the girls.”
Guthrie – who represented Team Bath in the 2021 Vitality Netball Superleague season – spearheads a four-player leadership group. Laura Malcolm, Fran Williams and Natalie Haythornthwaite will be supporting Guthrie in her captaincy duties during the series.
All three have recently been involved in leadership roles. Malcolm was co-captain and Williams was named vice-captain for the aforementioned Cadbury Netball Series. Haythornthwaite, meanwhile, captained the Vitality Roses for their series with South Africa in 2019.
On the selected leadership group, Head Coach Jess Thirlby said: “Serena embodies all of what being a Rose means and the values that the group work hard to uphold. Not only is she able to inspire people by the way she expresses herself on court but her energy off it motivates the team to go on the journey with her too. She is a proven force and well respected on the international stage and is restless in wanting the team to be better day in, day out.
“I am a big believer in shared and collaborative leadership and am proud of the growth the team have shown in this area over the last two years. Serena is well supported by the leadership group of Nat, Fran and Laura and also by a Roses team with an abundance of leadership experience. The trio that makes up the leadership group have been outstanding over the past two years in navigating some challenging times and have done so with humility, passion and drive.”
Thirlby, who led the Vitality Roses to success in the Vitality Netball Legends Series in January 2021, will be watching on from the side-lines in New Zealand for what is set to be an exciting and vital clash for the squad ahead of the Commonwealth Games in 2022.
She is joined on tour by Liana Leota who was appointed as a Vitality Roses Technical Coach earlier this year.
On the coaching set-up, Thirlby said: “Liana is a real asset to the coaching team and it’s great to have her working with us for this tour. The team and I really value her insights, made even more valuable by her time playing on the international stage.
“Liana has a real eye for detail and can see things through the lens of both a player and coach, which her obvious knowledge of how to beat the best defensive units in the world with her creativity and flair is something we continue to benefit from but equally as valued is her humility and selflessness towards the task at hand.
“Appointed as a Roses Technical Coach, with a specialism in attack, Liana will act as the Assistant Coach for this tour with some additional roles and I’m enjoying developing and strengthening our coaching relationship through this experience.”
All fixtures during the tour will be broadcast on Sky Sports in the UK, with exact timings and programming to be confirmed.