England Netball apologetic after blindsiding Netball NZ
None of England’s World Cup players have been named in the side to meet the Silver Ferns in the three test series in New Zealand.
Following England’s silver medal at last month’s Netball World Cup, their best ever finish at the event, members of the World Cup playing group and staff are taking a “planned break” as England look to give exposure to a new crop of players.
Amongst the Roses’ squad are seven players in line to make their England debuts.
Former Silver Fern Liana Leota is stepping in to temporarily lead the side as coach for the series, in place of the Roses head coach Jess Thirlby.
Netball New Zealand spoke with England Netball’s chief executive and head of high performance on Friday morning.
CEO Jennie Wyllie said they were very apologetic, but it didn’t go too far to rectify the situation Netball New Zealand was left in.
“They talked through what’s going on with their squads so we got some insight there and they are very much positioning this as it’s about the future, looking to the 2027 World Cup.
“Some of them are players that will be transitioning out of their programme, you know imminent retirements and then there are athletes with surgeries and injuries that are getting treated, along with some extended leave with some other members,” Wyllie said.
As is normal practice Netball New Zealand had a terms of agreement with England Netball for the tour.
One of the stipulations is that both countries will field a “senior representative team”.
“Obviously you don’t mandate who that team might be or how that team might be selected. That remains a matter for the national body so there are terms like that that are held within those agreements.”
But by “senior representative team”, Netball New Zealand “absolutely” expected the Roses would send some of their World Cup players.
“There was never any indication to us that there would be a wholesale swap out of athletes.”
Wyllie said it was a reciprocal agreement for the Silver Ferns’ January 2022 tour to the Northern Hemisphere for the Quad Series.
“I’ve expressed my view to England Netball that at no time did we send a team that was largely a development team. We sent our best available and it’s that kind of work in good faith and always send your best team that you can.”
Both countries agreed to the terms of agreement at the end of 2021 and the series this month falls within the window for when the reciprocal tour needs to take place.
Wyllie said once their counterparts knew their intentions, they failed to subsequently tell Netball New Zealand.
“It’s that sort of common courtesy of keeping those lines of communication in place, being transparent. It’s both the squad and also their coaching line up that was also a surprise.”
Wyllie hoped it would not affect ticket sales.
“Our fans are expecting a lot from us. We understand we’ve got a bit of work to do coming off the back of the Netball World Cup and this was intended to be a series that demonstrated that to them.
“We’ve put a lot of effort into this programme, being able to present a quality product to our fans and that’s all we can do, make sure that we put the netball out on court that is going to deliver to that.”
Netball New Zealand has been burnt twice in the space of a year by touring countries.
New Zealand thrashed Jamaica 2-0 in last September’s Taini Jamison series after only three players from the side that won silver at the Commonwealth Games arrived.
The team’s arrival was delayed before only seven players landed in New Zealand as a result of visa issues.
Lost tickets sales, the changing of venues, and travel assistance cost Netball New Zealand a significant amount of money, prompting World Netball to launch an investigation.
The world governing body eventually imposed the maximum fine of NZ $10,000 on Netball Jamaica.
“On the back of Jamaica we’ve been waiting for World Netball to change a lot of their definitions and some of their policies and processes.
“I believe that went to their board in July, so we’re nine months on, we’re ready for change and we had anticipated that they would move more quickly than they have so will be taking this up with World Netball also.”
Silver Ferns coach Dame Noeline Taurua will name the team for the Taini Jamison series next week.
“I would imagine Noels will be looking to the future but she will certainly be selecting experienced players because we take delivering our product really seriously and what our fans want to see is the very best out there.
“It’s about bringing them through in a staggered way, it’s not about developing them on the court all at once in front of the bright lights.”
Leading NZ netball commentator Jenny Woods also shared her thoughts on this
Disappointing. For "new look" side read England B. This is not what netball needs right now. https://t.co/ssZF5kdVpc
— Jenny Woods (@waihue) August 31, 2023