England Netball’s Vitality Roses are headed for New Zealand, as they prepare to play a three-game series against the Silver Ferns, set to take place in late September.
The Vitality Roses will fly to Christchurch in New Zealand’s South Island, where they will quarantine upon arrival as per the country’s Government restrictions due to the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic.
The squad will exit quarantine on Friday 10 September to allow them to train as a team and prepare for the three planned fixtures against the Silver Ferns on 20, 22 and 24 September at the Christchurch Arena, subject to Government lockdown levels being reduced in the South Island.
The series, a key stage of preparation for the Vitality Roses ahead of next summer’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham as they bid to defend their historic gold from the 2018 Games, will be the first time since the Cadbury Netball Series in 2020 that the two teams have faced each other on court.
The Vitality Roses will then travel to Australia to play the Australian Diamonds in a three-game series in October, with the dates of fixtures and venue to be confirmed. England Netball, alongside Netball Australia and Netball New Zealand are working hard behind the scenes to navigate the changing COVID-19 travel restrictions and quarantine regulations in place between New Zealand and Australia and will update the Netball Family on plans in due course.
David Parsons, Performance Director at England Netball, said: “To organise a tour of this magnitude at this time has been incredibly challenging due to the ongoing global pandemic and the restrictions to travel, testing programmes and quarantine periods as per Government regulations across the world.
“The backroom teams involved have worked tirelessly over a period of many months to enable the tour to get to this point and I’d like to thank everyone at Netball New Zealand and Netball Australia for their continued efforts and partnership throughout. The situation in both countries is changing daily and we are working with both nations to navigate what that means for the fixtures we have planned. As part of operating in elite sport during these times, we know that plans could change – but I don’t doubt that once the games get underway that it will be incredibly rewarding for all involved.
“We want to ensure our athletes have the best possible opportunities to compete against the World’s top teams as we head towards the Commonwealth Games in 2022, however the health and safety of our players is our priority and we will continue to follow all Government guidance in both New Zealand and Australia, putting the wellbeing of all athletes first.”
Jess Thirlby, Vitality Roses Head Coach, said: “This tour provides us with the world-class playing and training opportunities that are so critical to our preparations for the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham next July.
“This series will enable us to test existing and new combinations within this diverse and talented squad, and as a team we are really looking forward to journeying to New Zealand and Australia and taking to the court to match up against some of the world’s highest ranked nations.
“We are excited to have international netball back on court and on screens for fans across the world to enjoy.”
Fifteen Vitality Roses have been selected to play in New Zealand, with Joanne Harten, Helen Housby, Natalie Haythornthwaite and Stacey Francis-Bayman joining the planned Australia leg of the tour.
The full squad selected for the series is as follows:
|GA, GS, WA
|WA, WD, C
|GD, GK, WD
|GD, GK, WD
|Stacey Francis-Bayman (Australia leg only)
|GD, WD, GK
|Joanne Harten (Australia leg only)
|Helen Housby (Australia leg only)
|Natalie Haythornthwaite (Australia leg only)
All fixtures during the tour will be broadcast on Sky Sports in the UK, with exact timings and programming to be confirmed.