The coach of the England team who will be one of the favourites for the World Cup in July, has spoken of her excitement at the tournament being staged in South Africa.

“I am not going to lie. South Africa, Cape Town is one of my favourite locations,” Jess Thirlby said on the day that England’s 12-strong squad was announced. England are the first country to name their final squad for the tournament. Hosts South Africa will name theirs on Friday night.

“I have been fortunate enough to go across my career both playing and coaching, and it is definitely a favourite of mine so I am hoping that bodes well and that our results can continue to make sure that it is a favourite place that I can return to with fond memories.

“I think South Africa in particular are going to be great hosts, they are always so welcoming, but they know how to celebrate, and I think it will be a fantastic festival both full of colour, life and energy and it is just what every team deserves to be a part of,” Thirlby said.

The 43-year-old Thirlby represented England on court from 2000-2006, including at the 2002 Commonwealth Games,. She was appointed England coach in 2019, and will oversee a team with some 800 international caps, including the experience of Jade Clarke and Geva Mentor. The pair will be in their sixth World Cup, equalling the record of Rhona John-Davis of Trinidad & Tobago.

“For them it is incredibly special,” Thirly said. “You would most probably assume that when I made those phone calls it gets a bit boring for them having six calls saying the same thing, but actually both of them were very humble and very emotional.

“Those performances (at the last Netball World Cup) probably wouldn’t quite stack up with the way the game has moved again. For Geva and Jade to live with those changing times is incredible really. They just love the game, and that clearly speaks to the fact that they are heading towards their sixth Netball World Cup, and Geva’s 12th major tournament which is just crazy.”

Click on the below link to see England’s VNWC2023 squad

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