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UK News Desk

Serena Guthrie column: England Quad Series win can set tone for World Cup

Serena Guthrie

2019 Quad Series
Venues: Matches in Liverpool and London Dates: 13, 19 & 20 January
Coverage: Live radio commentary and text updates of England’s matches on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, BBC Sounds, the BBC Sport website and app.

Commonwealth gold medallist Serena Guthrie will captain England Roses in the upcoming International Quad Series against New Zealand, South Africa and Australia.

It is vital England do well in the Quad Series. It will be a huge factor in who is going to go on and win gold at the World Cup in Liverpool in July.

There is pressure, but we’re doing all right in handling it. We’re a good bunch and we’re excited to play in a home series.

We’ve been working hard in training and we will stick together as a unit. New Zealand have Laura Langman back and we have shooter Jo Harten returning – but one player doesn’t make a team, all 12 players do.

There is no getting away from the fact we have never won a Quad Series. We’ve won one or two games but never gone that step further.

And to really stamp our intentions for the summer, we need to play well over the next month and win it on home soil.

Of course, we would love to win it before the World Cup – that would be the ideal scenario.

All four teams will want to win and come out with the bragging rights heading into the summer, but we know it’s also going to be about how we win.

For us, it’s about playing netball we and our fans can be proud of.

We want to go out there strong and deliver a brand of netball that can win us a gold medal in Liverpool.

Three different styles

We’ve learned over the past few years that consistency is key and it is what we will need to make sure we are capable of beating the big teams.

New Zealand’s Silver Ferns are a new-look team and we will come up against some new faces.

With Noeline Taurua at the helm, having been appointed head coach in August 2018, I expect they’ll play a traditional zone defence style and will want us to play cross-court balls, to play to their strengths. We need to find a way through their system so we can penetrate and get the ball to our shooters at the other end.

You then compare them to Australia, playing against whom feels like you’re wearing a human backpack – those girls running around on court, they don’t give you an inch to breathe.

South Africa are a mix of the Kiwis and the Aussies. They play a really great off-marking game with range and athleticism – and they have Karla Pretorius, who can mark someone out of the game.

They have this flair about them and they are exciting to watch. But we don’t want to give them too many things to feel good about!

For us it’s about adapting to what those three teams put out against us – three different styles.

England netball team

Enjoying the journey and riding the wave

We’re known for being a fun team – we’re a high-energy group. A big part of who we are is the need to have downtime and have fun – we want to enjoy the journey and we like to hang out with each other.

But we do take things seriously when it comes to game time. We’re protective of our culture and who comes into it.

And what is great is the fans looking in are seeing that – a group of athletes that train hard and love what they do. That’s who we are.

You never know how long you will be riding this incredible wave, in front of our incredible fans, so you have to enjoy it. Otherwise, what are you doing it for?

There are so many great. genuine people in our team who want to do the best for each other. That’s rare to find in team sport. To have everybody working to achieve so highly and do whatever it takes to be the best they can be – it’s a really positive environment.

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Serena Guthrie was talking to BBC Sport’s Denise Evans.

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