Natalie Haythonthwaite waving and smiling

Commonwealth Games gold medalist and Vitality Netball World Cup star Natalie Haythornthwaite has been named England captain for an upcoming three match test series with South Africa.

Vitality Roses Head Coach Jess Thirlby today announced her decision to have the 26 year old lead the team as they prepare to fly to South Africa this Saturday.

Haythornthwaite, who made her Vitality Roses debut against Trinidad & Tobago in 2015, has accumulated 43 caps for England and was a part of the team that made history in the Gold Coast by winning gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

The netball star who won back to back Vitality Netball Superleague titles with Wasps Netball before making a move to Australian club New South Wales Swifts last year, follows in the footsteps of Serena Guthrie who previously captained the team at the Vitality Netball World Cup in Liverpool, before announcing that she would be taking a year away from the court.

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Haythornthwaite said: “It’s a huge honour to be named captain of the Vitality Roses for the upcoming series with South Africa. I am really excited about representing my country again for the first time since the Vitality Netball World Cup in July. I can’t wait to stand on court next to the other amazing athletes that make up this squad and I hope that the country will be watching and supporting us throughout it.”

Vitality Roses Head Coach Jess Thirlby commented: “It’s a really proud moment for Natalie to be named captain, she’s been on an incredible journey with England Netball so far from age group to senior international, plus over the course of this last year she’s been really challenged with overcoming injury and winning the Suncorp Super Netball league and has developed both on and off the court.

“Natalie is well liked and a respected member of the team. She’s approachable, positive and knows what it takes to win. I believe she has developed more of the grit, robustness and resilience needed to lead on some of the biggest stages and there is more depth to her leadership now. She represents the values and behaviours we care about most as a Roses team and leads by example out on court.

“It’s important we have a captain going into this test series that has the experience and exposure that Natalie has and that there are others around her that can support her as captain. We’re in a great position as we have a very leaderful team and that is important as a squad shouldn’t just rely on one or two people. We are continuing to invest in all of our players and really embracing the mix of leaders we have and I think now’s a great time to give Natalie the responsibility and privilege of leading her team as captain.”

Haythornthwaite will don the red dress alongside vice-captain Laura Malcolm, who has 25 caps under her belt and plies her trade for Vitality Netball Superleague team Manchester Thunder.

Laura said: “We’ve got an exciting few weeks ahead of us and I’m delighted that I can support my teammates in the lead up and during this series as vice-captain. We have a lot of leaders amongst our group so I’m honoured that I’ve been given this opportunity for what is set to be an unmissable competition.”

The Vitality Roses will be facing the South Africa SPAR Proteas from 29 November – 1 December, you can follow all of the action live on Sky Sports and via the official England Netball Twitter account.

After the exciting series with South Africa the Vitality Roses will then play on home soil during the Vitality Netball Nations Cup in January 2020.

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