Netball Nations Cup: England prepare to host inaugural tournament

By Denise EvansBBC Sport
England v New Zealand
New Zealand beat England to reach the final of July's World Cup in Liverpool - they meet again on 19 January

England are preparing to host the inaugural Netball Nations Cup - their first matches on home soil since the 2019 World Cup in Liverpool.

The Roses, who won bronze at that tournament, face world champions New Zealand in their opening game of the four-team competition on Sunday.

The match in Nottingham will be the first time the sides have met since the World Cup semi-finals.

South Africa play Jamaica in the first match of the event on the same day.

Matches also take place in Birmingham and London between 19 January and 26 January.

What is the Netball Nations Cup?

The event brings together four of the world's top five teams as an alternative to January's traditional Quad Series format, with Jamaica - replacing top-ranked Australia (who opted not to take part) - joining hosts England, South Africa and New Zealand.

Each team will play each other once, before a third-fourth play-off and a final to decide the winner on the last day of competition.

Tell me about the teams (world ranking in brackets)

England (3)

The Roses squad is a blend of youth and experience. Most-capped player Jade Clarke (167) is included, while Manchester Thunder centre and medical student Amy Carter is in line to make her first senior appearance.

Regular starters Helen Housby, Jo Harten, Geva Mentor and Serena Guthrie have all opted to take time out from international netball.

"Jade has been and done everything, and she's great for helping me to develop," Carter said.

Defender Kate Shimmin, who is expected to make her home debut during the series, added: "Every team we're playing has a different style, so we'll have a different gameplan for each.

"We will thrive, it's exciting."

Squad: Eleanor Cardwell, George Fisher, Sophie Drakeford-Lewis, Kadeen Corbin, Natalie Haythornthwaite (captain) Laura Malcolm, Amy Carter, Natalie Panagarry, Jade Clarke, Chelsea Pitman, Fran Williams, Razia Quashie, Kate Shimmin, Stacey Francis.

New Zealand (2)

Maria Folau
Experienced shooter Maria Folau has retired from netball

The Kiwis return to England without a number of World Cup-winning players. Shooter Maria Folau, 32, announced her retirement from netball in December, while regular captain Laura Langman, 33, and 32-year-old defender Katrina Rore - who have 284 international caps between them - are rested.

Head coach Noeline Taurua has drafted in Maia Wilson and mid-courters Whitney Souness and Kimiora Poi as replacements, and named shooter Ameliaranne Ekenasio as captain.

"We are losing a lot of experience," said Taurua. "But it is a great chance to see what this next wave of Silver Ferns can bring to our game in the spotlight of international Test netball."

Squad: Bailey Mes, Te Paea Selby-Rickit, Gina Crampton, Kimiora Poi, Karin Burger, Michaela Sokolich-Beatson, Ameliaranne Ekenasio (captain), Maia Wilson, Shannon Saunders, Whitney Souness, Phoenix Karaka, Jane Watson. Samantha Sinclair (reserve).

South Africa (5)

The Proteas head into 2020 following a history-making 2019 in which they finished fourth at the World Cup - their highest position in the tournament.

It is a familiar squad to the one beaten 2-1 by England in a Test series in Cape Town in December, but head coach Dorette Badenhorst has been able to strengthen her side and select World Cup Most Valuable Player Karla Pretorius, who was injured for those matches.

"I am looking forward to an exciting competition between top countries in the world. There are no easy games here‚ just challenges‚" Badenhorst told the South Africa Herald.external-link

Squad: Ine-Mari Venter; Lenize Potgieter; Lefebre Rademan and Sigi Burger, Bongi Msomi (captain)‚ Izette Griesel‚ Rome Dreyer‚ Khanyisa Chawane, Phumza Mawen, Shadine van der Merwe‚ Zanele Vimbela‚ Karla Pretorius.

South Africa and Jamaica
South Africa beat Jamaica 55-52 the last time the sides faced each other, at the 2019 World Cup

Jamaica (4)

It's been a turbulent time for Jamaica since they finished a disappointing fifth at the World Cup and missed the semi-finals of the tournament for the first time since 1995.

There have been reports of unrest after senior players, including Shamera Sterling and Jhaniele Fowler-Reid, were frozen out of international selection after missing training camps.external-link

Now head coach Connie Francis, who began her second term in charge of the Sunshine Girls in October, has settled any differences and says her squad, which includes seven players who played at the World Cup and five who are uncapped, will be "a threat" in the competition.

"I can tell you that we will be a force to be reckoned with because the world will be saying that Jamaica is on the right track," Francis said in an interview with The Jamaica Gleaner.

Squad: Jhaniele Fowler-Reid (captain), Shanice Beckford, Gezelle Allison, Jodi-Ann Ward, Nicole Dixon, Khadijah Williams, Shadian Hemmings, Shamera Sterling, Kadie-Ann Dehaney, Latanya Wilson, Shannika Johnson.

Netball Nations Cup fixtures

Sun, 19 January, Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham:

South Africa v Jamaica, 14:30 GMT

England v New Zealand, 17:00

Wed, 22 January, Arena Birmingham:

Jamaica v New Zealand, 17:30

England v South Africa, 20:00

Sat 25-26 January, Copper Box Arena, London:

New Zealand v South Africa, Sat, 14:30

England v Jamaica, Sat, 17:00

Third v Fourth (TBA), Sun, 14:30

First v Second (TBA), Sun, 17:00