England netball: Jess Thirlby to miss NZ series after positive coronavirus test

Jess Thirlby
Jess Thirlby has won four Superleague titles as head coach of Team Bath

England head coach Jess Thirlby has not travelled to New Zealand for the three-Test series after testing positive for coronavirus.

Thirlby is asymptomatic and self-isolating. The team will instead be led by Saracens Mavericks' Kat Ratnapala.

"We cannot take any risks," said Thirlby, who will continue to work remotely with the team.

The England team flew out to New Zealand on Wednesday and will quarantine for two weeks on arrival.

Thirlby added: "The safety of all involved is the priority. I am extremely disappointed to not be travelling.

"Every precaution has been taken; remaining in small bubbles during training, having staff wear masks at all times, as well as players wearing masks when not on court.

"We have also been social distancing, doing temperature checks on arrival, plus self-isolating at home and undergoing a pre-flight testing plan prior to travelling."

England face world champions New Zealand on 28 October, 30 October and 1 November.

Kathryn Ratnapala
Saracens Mavericks head coach Kat Ratnapala (centre) will take charge of England for the three-Test series in New Zealand

Ratnapala, who has assisted Thirlby at a number of competitions in the past 12 months, will be helped by Colette Thomson for the New Zealand series.

"This, of course, is not the outcome that any of us wanted," said Ratnapala. "Jess has been doing tremendous work in preparing the Vitality Roses for international competition in these unusual times.

"I will do all I can to support the Vitality Roses during this period, with the help of Colette and Jess, who I know will continue to have a strong presence in the lead up to the games, albeit virtually."

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