Vitality Roses Head Coach Jess Thirlby has named the player leadership group to lead the Roses squad at the Vitality Netball World Cup which takes place from 28 July until 6 August in South Africa.
With a change of approach, this summer the Roses will have two co-captains in Natalie Metcalf and Layla Guscoth. The two stalwarts of the English game will work together to play a pivotal role in leading the team on and off the court.
To support them, Jade Clarke has been selected as vice-captain. This summer’s Netball World Cup will be a world-record equalling sixth for Clarke, alongside teammate Geva Mentor.
Supporting the co-captains and the vice-captain will be a wider leadership group featuring Eleanor Cardwell, Helen Housby and Fran Williams.
Vitality Roses Head Coach Jess Thirlby said: “Nat and Layla are great leaders within their own right but together they are a force for good in ensuring we leave no stone unturned in our pursuit for success in Cape Town. They will both challenge the group and show huge compassion for their teammates in equal measure. They are respected by the team as both world class players but also for how they lead, and I am confident they will help get the best from the team during our World Cup campaign.
“Jade is well placed to support Nat and Layla and brings direct experience of knowing how to lead Roses teams in major tournaments having taken on multiple leadership roles during her time in the squad. Whilst Jade quietly goes about her work, when she speaks, we all listen, such is the magnitude and value of her contributions. An incredible role model and I can trust Nat and Layla will feel more than supported by Jade.
“We have invested and focussed attention over the last few years on strengthening and celebrating our leadership across the team both on and away from the court and we have seen the benefits of that with a clear shared leadership model. The wider leadership team is a reflection of that with Eleanor, Helen and Fran all stepping up and playing a key role in supporting Nat, Layla and Jade as well the wider team. All three have demonstrated their growth and impact in this space across both the international and domestic seasons.”
For Nat Metcalf, this will be her second successive major tournament as captain after leading out her country at last year’s Commonwealth Games. With 74 caps to her name, she has represented the Roses since 2015.
Speaking about her appointment, she said: “To be asked to step into a leadership role is something I never thought about as a youngster or even when I first stepped into the England set up so to get given that honour is huge and I want to be able to give my best to the team.
“I’m really honoured to be co-captain next to Layla. Me and Layla have grown up through the programme together and I have a lot of respect for her. I think we’ll really challenge and balance each other out.
“For me, I’m really big on relationships and empowering those around me to believe how good they are; that really drives me as a player and a leader. Layla is so respected in the squad and she is the one who will challenge us, call us out when we need to work harder and celebrate when we’re doing things really well. I think it’s about that balance of competitiveness, celebrating the good things and being those ones who can push the group to challenge themselves. And to have Jade as vice-captain is incredible. She’s such a driver for England and so to have her included in the leadership group is amazing for the girls.”
Layla Guscoth is preparing for her third major tournament and comes into the role with a wealth of experience having represented England more than 50 times over the last ten years.
Guscoth added: “Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would ever be asked to co-captain the national side at a World Cup. It is a huge privilege and honour to line up beside Nat and Jade heading into Cape Town.
“I hope to bring energy, determination and support to the team to maximise our potential in this tournament. I’m excited to be alongside Nat who has led the team well over the last year, bringing real drive and professionalism into the game. There aren’t enough words to describe the example Jade sets for all of us – I will learn a lot from working with her in this leadership space.”