Jess Thirbly to take charge of England netball team

England Netball have named Jess Thirlby as their new head coach following the departure of Tracey Neville in the wake of last week’s World Cup bronze medal.

Thirlby, who played for England for 15 years and has experience coaching a number of under-age national teams, says she is unafraid to make changes in order to maintain their status among the world’s best.

A number of players who formed the backbone of both the Commonwealth Games gold medal-winning side and the squad in Liverpool are expected to announce their retirements.

Describing the role as “an absolute honour”, Thirlby said:  “I have a huge amount of respect for Tracey, the Roses and the team behind them that have led this wonderful sport to where it is today.

“This is a great time to be taking on the role as we head into Netball‘s exciting next chapter. My focus will be to harness and build upon the momentum and solid foundation gained over the past four years.

“I expect the look and feel of the team to change as some players may begin to consider hanging up their netball trainers following the World Cup, but I am excited to invest in and develop the amazing new talent that is coming through.”

Serena Guthrie
Captain Serena Guthrie is expected to take a break from the national squad (Nigel French/PA)

It is a mark of the raised expectations which followed England’s historic Commonwealth triumph that their semi-final loss to eventual winners New Zealand last week was met with disappointment.

England rebounded with a comprehensive win over South Africa to take bronze, after which Neville, who was parachuted into the role at short notice in 2015, confirmed her decision to stand down.

Thirlby, who competed alongside Neville at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, has three years before England defend their title in high-profile circumstances in Birmingham.

England Netball chief executive Joanna Adams said: “Jess’ thorough understanding of the elite netball landscape and experience of working with some of the Vitality Roses, both past and present, makes her the perfect fit for this role.”

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