Team Bath’s Serena Guthrie believes the experience of having a home World Cup will benefit England at next summer’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, writes Jack Lacey.
Jess Thirlby’s Vitality Roses are aiming to defend the gold medal they won in the Gold Coast four years ago, which helped increase the profile of netball in this country.
This week, marks one year until the 2022 games get under way in Birmingham, and Guthrie, who has 100 international caps to her name, says that although they did not win the Vitality Netball World Cup back in 2019, it will provide valuable experience for the players involved again next year.
“For me what has been really useful for the team, was having that home World Cup in Liverpool,” said Guthrie, who made her debut for her country against Malawi in 2008, when she had just turned 18.
“Now we know what a major tournament at home looks and feels like, and I think that is really important.
“The expectation we will have, but that also the public will have on the team, won’t be unknown to us either.
“So, it is a great advantage. We can walk out there and see a sea of red, who does not want that?
“At the same time, you will feel the nation’s expectation ever higher closer to home.
“I think there are pros and cons though. In our last Commonwealth journey, we did not have anybody rooting for us on court. We were behind enemy lines in Australia, but that brought a great spirit out.”
Having had success in 2018, with that dramatic 52-51 win over host nation Australia, it could be easy to assume England will automatically only see a gold medal as a success in Birmingham.
But Guthrie, the most experienced player in the England ranks, knows the importance of not taking her eye off the ball.
“I think all we need to focus on is trying to get ourselves into another final, first and foremost,” added Guthrie, whose performances on the court have helped to attract 160,000 women to play netball or more netball following the World Cup in 2019 in Liverpool, with 125,000 women having also now also returned to the sport through England Netball’s highly successful Back to Netball programme.
“That is always the aim, not just to get on the podium, but to put us in a position to win a gold medal.
“That does not change for us, and I think good things will come from that.
“The last Commonwealth games showed what it can do for our sport, so it is up to us to go out there, perform and get people to jump on the bandwagon with us I suppose.
“It isn’t going to be an exact replica (of 2018) it is a whole new challenge for this group and a lot has changed in world netball since then.
“I have been really fortunate that since I first got involved in this team, everything has improved. It is nice to be in a place where you know you can compete.”
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