Current INF World Ranking: 3rd
Jade Clarke, Rachel Dunn, Layla Guscoth, Serena Guthrie, Jo Harten, Helen Housby, Natalie Haythornthwaite, Geva Mentor, Natalie Panagarry, Chelsea Pitman, Eboni Usoro-Brown, Fran Williams
Captain: Serena Guthrie
Median age: 29
Player with the most caps: Jade Clarke (161 caps)
Player with the least caps: Francesca Williams (3 caps)
The 2019 Vitality Roses are the strongest squad England has ever produced for a Netball World Cup. Despite only having eight of the twelve athletes who brought home Commonwealth gold, the Roses still have 827 international caps between them which includes seven athletes who have competed at one or more World Cups.
On the front line for the Roses will likely be Helen Housby and Jo Harten. Both athletes have supremely safe hands and are capable of turning and shooting from anywhere in the circle. They are playmakers, great defenders when they need to be and composed under pressure. They will be supported by Rachel Dunn who has 86 caps and is another athlete who is more than capable of holding her own on the international stage. However, Dunn will likely be utilised as an impact player or gain most of her court time in the matches against the less competitive nations.
Nat Haythornthwaite will be making her netball return at the World Cup. She is listed on the team sheet as a wing attack and goal attack. She is capable in both roles, however, spends most of her club netball time out of the circle. Fighting Haythornthwaite for the wing attack bib is Chelsea Pitman, the only specialist midcourt player in the Roses lineup. Pitman is another dynamic playmaker and was a solid performer throughout the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
The rest of the Roses midcourt is very defence heavy with Serena Guthrie, Jade Clarke and Natalie Panagarry. Each of these athletes is comfortable in either the centre or wing defence. Of these players, only Guthrie is versatile enough to play wing attack effectively for England. But what they lack in attacking prowess they will certainly make up for with strong midcourt pressure. And with Pitman and Housby they should have no problems transitioning down court.
The Roses backline is also full of familiar faces with Geva Mentor, Eboni Usoro-Brown (nee Beckford-Chambers) and Layla Guscoth. Again, the Roses have another wing defence option in Guscoth however, her combination with Mentor during recent international matches has been particularly effective, so she is unlikely to feature at wing defence much throughout the tournament.
If there is a chink in the Roses armour, it will be the inexperience of Francesca Williams who is named as a goal defence and wing defence. Williams only made her debut for England late last year and had minimal court time in the January Quad series. But Williams reads the play well so expect to see her utilised as an impact player or feature more in the pool rounds.
The Roses will have sentimental reasons to play for gold in this tournament. Not only is it hosted in their home country for the first time in 24 years but will also be Tracey Neville’s last run as head coach, after she announced she will be stepping down at the end of the World Cup. The Roses are known to feed off passion and play with their hearts on their metaphorical sleeves so these reasons will give them fire in their bellies. That and the rowdy home crowd.
Predicted 2019 World Cup Placing: Gold medal playoff