Commonwealth Games gold medalist Serena Guthrie and Vitality Rose Laura Malcolm have been named as Vitality Roses co-captains for an upcoming three match test series against the Silver Ferns in New Zealand.
Guthrie and Malcolm will don the red dress for the Cadbury Netball Series, set to take place on 28 October, 30 October and 1 November, alongside vice-captain Fran Williams.
After taking a short break from the international scene having led the Vitality Roses to bronze at the Vitality Netball World Cup last year, Guthrie is back and set to gain her 100th cap during the England side’s first international series following lockdown.
The netball icon, who made her debut against Malawi in 2008, will be working hand in hand with co-captain Malcolm in a bid to secure victory. Malcolm, who was a part of the Manchester Thunder team that secured the 2019 Vitality Netball Superleague title, has plenty of experience leading the England side having been vice-captain during a 2019 test series in South Africa and the Vitality Netball Nations Cup in January 2020.
The Vitality Roses Head Coach Jess Thirlby, who will be leading the squad virtually with Kat Ratnapala taking on additional coaching responsibilities on the ground due to a positive COVID-19 test result, revealed her leadership team selection following the team’s arrival in New Zealand.
She commented: “Serena and Laura are well respected members of the team and I’m really proud to name them co-captains. Serena has a wealth of international knowledge and exposure, which is important for a captain to have going into a series against the current world champions and after such an unsettling year for all. It’s brilliant to have her back in the mix and back in the red dress, the players really look up to her and I know she’ll do an outstanding job.
“Laura is a positive, hardworking and highly motivated member of the team and has a natural ability in knowing how to get the best out of those around her. Over the last 12 months she’s proved her ability to be a leader throughout training and previous international competitions. The great thing about this squad is we have a very leaderful team, with many players ready and raring to step up whenever the time requires it and Laura leads by example both on and off the court.”
Vice-captain Fran Williams, who plies her trade for Wasps Netball in the Vitality Netball Superleague, has 13 caps to her name and played a key role in the Vitality Roses’ journey to the podium at the 2019 Vitality Netball World Cup.
Thirlby added: “This is a really exciting and important opportunity for Fran, she’s been on a phenomenal journey with the Vitality Roses to date and has really made a name for herself on the netball scene. The whole team has been tested due to the pandemic; being forced to train from home and then in a different environment when returning to camp, however Fran has shown resilience and a positive attitude throughout. I couldn’t be more proud of Fran and the team.
“Despite not being able to fly to New Zealand with the squad due to a positive COVID-19 test result, I have complete confidence in knowing we have such a great leadership team in Serena, Laura and Fran. I will be working closely with them, albeit virtually, throughout the series and can’t wait to see them back on the international stage.”
The Cadbury Netball Series, which will see the Vitality Roses face the Silver Ferns for the first time since January, will be aired live via Sky Sports.