Clarke and Oyesola named in England squad revealed for Vitality Netball Legends Series

The new Leeds Rhinos netball team. signing Jade Clarke .

Vitality Roses Head Coach, Jess Thirlby has announced the names of 15 players, including one training partner, who will face the Jamaica Sunshine Girls in January 2021 on home soil.

The squad includes Rhinos Netball players Jade Clarke and Vicki Oyesola fr the Vitality Netball Legends Series, which is scheduled for 22, 24, 26 and 28 January, will be aired live across Sky Sports Mix/ Arena and YouTube, so fans of the game can watch their heroes in action.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, the series will be played behind closed doors with strict COVID testing and protocols in place as per Government guidance relating to elite sport, with player and staff safety paramount.

The Vitality Roses, who are currently placed third in the world, will be battling the Sunshine Girls for the Jean Hornsby Cup, named in celebration of the first Black England netball player and all her achievements on the court.

Commenting on the squad, Head Coach Jess Thirlby said: “I am very pleased to be sharing the names of the players selected to compete in the Vitality Netball Legends Series. We have got an exciting team heading into this series, with some big names like Serena Guthrie, Helen Housby, Jade Clarke, Fran Williams and Natalie Haythornthwaite who competed in the Vitality Netball World Cup in 2019 in the lineup, plus we’ll see the return of Layla Guscoth and Beth Cobden on court after overcoming injury.

“This series provides the opportunity to continue to test existing and new combinations as well as create connections between our rising stars and the more experienced players, some, returning for the first time since the World Cup in Liverpool which I know we have been eagerly awaiting.

“Getting to play New Zealand in November was a big opportunity for us and we’re grateful to get another chance to play a top-ranking team, this time on home soil. A Vitality Roses v Jamaica clash never fails to disappoint and has, in the past led to some of the most competitive matches in global netball. It is great to see the strength of the side that forms the touring group from Jamaica, which will demand from us the highest levels of performance needed to win on the international stage. It plays a significant part in our preparations for Birmingham and beyond and we can’t wait to get back on court and to look ahead to 2021 and beyond.”

The leadership structure for the squad will see Serena Guthrie and Natalie Haythornthwaite co-captain the team as they head into the series.

Natalie Haythornthwaite added: “It is an honour to step back on court alongside fellow Vitality Roses teammates and wear the iconic red dress again, not only to get more international experience under our belts as a team, but to also shine a spotlight on our sport and give our fans something to look forward to after the events of the last year.

“The last time we played Jamaica was in the Vitality Netball Nations Cup last January and they didn’t fail to show what a strong and fierce side they are, we’re really looking forward to the opportunity and to stepping out on court against them again. It’s going to be a great chance to test ourselves on the international stage and build towards a home Commonwealth Games in 2022.”

The full squad selected for the series is as follows:

NamePositionsSenior caps
Eleanor CardwellGS, GA30
George FisherGS, GA15
Sophie Drakeford-LewisGA, WA5
Helen HousbyGA, GS66
Laura MalcolmWD, WA, C31
Serena Guthrie (co-captain)C, WD100
Natalie Haythornthwaite (co-captain)WA, GA50
Beth CobdenWD, C26
Jade ClarkeC, WD179
Imogen AllisonC, WD2
Fran WilliamsGD, GK, WD16
Razia QuashieGK, GD15
Vicki OyesolaGD, WD6
Layla GuscothGD, GK WD26
Summer Artman (training partner)GK, GD4