Compiled by: Ian Harkin, Kate Cornish, Jenny Sinclair and Katrina Nissen
Current INF World Ranking: 1st
Group Matches: Northern Ireland, Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka
Placing at 2015 NWC: 1st
14 NWC appearances
Team: Caitlin Bassett (capt), April Brandley, Kelsey Browne, Courtney Bruce, Paige Hadley, Sarah Klau, Jamie-Lee Price, Caitlin Thwaites, Gretel Tippett, Liz Watson, Jo Weston, Steph Wood
Australia’s Netball World Cup record is second to none – 11 titles, and three second placings. Going for four titles in a row, the sting of Commonwealth Games silver will add fire to the Diamonds’ campaign. However, the netball world is more evenly poised than ever before, and this squad is one of Australia’s most inexperienced. Recent retirements have taken a lot of test caps out of the playing ranks and this tournament will be a real test.
As usual, Australia’s strength in depth meant some players were unlucky to miss out on selection. There was much conjecture over the midcourt, in particular wing defence, with no player selected who has been playing that position regularly. But Jamie-Lee Price did play well there in the January Quad Series. After being hampered by injuries for part of the year, it’s hoped that Caitlin Bassett and Courtney Bruce will both be back at their absolute peak, while Liz Watson will be looking to dominate the midcourt, either from wing attack or centre.
But the spectre of what happened on the Gold Coast last year looms large. Looking like world beaters in their first six matches at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, the Australians then succumbed by one goal to the English Roses in the gold medal match. The Diamonds’ depth of talent was both a help and a hindrance as it was apparent that come the final, coach Lisa Alexander wasn’t quite sure what her best seven was.
In post tournament reviews, players were unhappy that they hadn’t been settled into a lineup prior to the final. There is a fine line between a settled roster, and managing fatigue across a demanding event. It will be fascinating to watch how Alexander handles her rotation policy this time round. The Diamonds should face no great challenge in their group, and indeed, they’re likely to go into the semi finals, having had just one tough match, against New Zealand.
Current INF World Ranking: 11
Group Matches: New Zealand, Singapore and Malawi
Placing at 2015 NWC: 13th
8 NWC appearances
Team: Shonette Azore-Bruce, Latonia Blackman, Samantha Browne, Damisha Croney (capt) Brianna Holder, Rieah Holder, Amanda Knight, Rhe-Ann Niles-Mapp, Tonisha Rock-Yaw, Shonte Seale, Sheniqua Thomas, Shonica Wharton
The Bajan Gems inspire a host of young female athletes back home in Barbados. The country proudly boasts netball as its most popular sport for young girls and it is the highest ranked team sport in the country. They qualified for Liverpool with strong performances, losing only to Trinidad and Tobago, and amassing an incredible 215 goals in their first two qualifying rounds.
There is no lack of experience in the squad, with several players being familiar names at World Cup and Commonwealth Games level. Latonia Blackman is the most capped player in Barbados netball history, with an impressive international career that has spanned over two decades. She debuted for Barbados as a fresh-faced 15 year old, and is one of the only players in the world to boast such skill and marked natural ability that she has played all seven positions in the national team.
Barbados recently climbed one place in the INF rankings. In this pool they should account for Singapore, but will have sterner opposition from Malawi and New Zealand.
Current INF World Ranking: 3
Group Matches:Uganda, Scotland, Samoa.
Placing at 2015 NWC: 3rd
14 NWC Appearances
Team: Jade Clarke, Rachel Dunn, Layla Guscoth, Serena Guthrie (capt), Jo Harten, Helen Housby, Natalie Haythornthwaite, Geva Mentor, Natalie Panagarry, Chelsea Pitman, Eboni Usoro-Brown, Fran Williams
As reigning Commonwealth Games champions, expectations of a strong home performance are high for England. Everything points to the Roses being right there when the title is being decided. Their recent performances when at full strength, show that there’s no country they should really fear. But will the huge home crowd support get them over the line, or will it place too much pressure on them?
This is an enormously experienced squad, full of big game performers who know how to handle the heat. Geva Mentor and Jade Clarke will be attending their fifth World Cup, while this will be coach Tracey Neville’s fourth, two each as a coach and a player. The incredible Mentor, in particular, will be fiercely determined to achieve World Cup glory, in what might possibly be her last and certainly is her greatest chance of victory.
It is a very strong squad, with a number of options all over the court, and will be led by the midcourt excitement machine that is Serena Guthrie. It will be interesting to see what shooting combinations are used, with the form of Rachel Dunn giving Neville a pleasant selection headache. There’s been an injury cloud over Natalie Haythornwaite, who hasn’t made an on court appearance for a number of months. Her flexibility in sliding from goal attack to wing attack is important, so the Roses will be sweating over her match fitness.
England’s best ever World Cup result was in 1975, when they finished second. But there were no finals in the tournament at that stage, so that is one achievement the Roses will be looking to tick off this time. They are in the hardest side of the draw, and will almost certainly come up against Uganda, Jamaica and South Africa, which will be no easy task. But if this team is to go all the way as they hope to do, they will be able to meet those challenges.
Current INF World Ranking: 17
Group Matches: Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago and South Africa
Placing at 2015 NWC: 11th
8 NWC Appearances
Team: Adi Vakaoca Bolakoro, Kaitlyn Fisher, Alisi Galo, Episake Kahatoka, Ema Mualuvu, Kelera Nawai, Lydia Panapasa, Unaisi Rauluni (capt), Asilika Sevutia, Aliti Toribau, Matila Vocea, Laisani Waqa
In January this year the Australian government announced help for Fiji’s Netball World Cup preparations with financial support as part of its Pacific Sports Partnership programme, which has a high performance focus on Netball. It is a great boost to Fiji’s World Cup campaign as it means the national team will be able to include, for example, professionals in their support staff such as a performance analyst and a team doctor.
The head coach of the Fiji Pearls is former Australian captain, Vicki Wilson. With years of elite domestic and international experience, you’d be hard pressed to find someone more competent than Wilson to be charged with taking a team to the World Cup. Fiji finished second in the Oceania qualifiers behind fierce rivals, Samoa.
However, their performances on the world stage have been disappointing in recent years, and at the recent Cadbury invitational series they were soundly beaten by New Zealand, New Zealand A and an invitational mens team. At Liverpool they are in the toughest of all the pools, and will most likely struggle against Jamaica, South Africa and Trinidad & Tobago.
Current INF World Ranking: 2
Preliminary matches: South Africa, Trinidad & Tobago, Fiji.
Placing at 2015 NWC: 4th
14 NWC Appearances
Team: Romelda Aiken, Shanice Beckford, Kadie-Ann Dehaney, Nicole Dixon, Stacian Facey, Jhaniele Fowler (capt), Rebekah Robinson, Shamera Sterling, Adean Thomas, Khadijah Williams, Vangelee Williams, Jodi-Ann Ward
The Sunshine Girls are the enigma of the tournament: they have some of the world’s best players at each end of the court, but injury woes, and little recent international form, makes them hard to judge. As they don’t participate in the Quad Series, they are maybe a little out of sight, out of mind. But with several members of the squad playing at a high level in either Australia or the UK, they are well placed to push for their highest World Cup placing.
The shooting circle has always been their biggest strength, but with injury concerns this year for Romelda Aiken and Jhaniele Fowler, and rising star Shimona Nelson recently ruled out, they are looking a little more vulnerable. That said, Fowler is still a valuable weapon and with Aiken as a backup, they are a scary attacking prospect. They will be looking to get good support from the talented Shanice Beckford at goal attack.
Shamera Sterling is undoubtedly one of the world’s top defenders currently, and has been racking up possession gains for fun. Kadie-Ann Dehaney has also been getting valuable experience, playing and training in Super Netball. In the past, the Jamaican midcourt have struggled somewhat, but this year they have the advantage of a strong and settled line, and will look to continue the good form from the Commonwealth Games where the team showed far greater patience with the ball.
Jamaica have never finished higher than third, but are hoping that this will be their year. They are in the toughest of groups, and will have to fight their way through them. The group match against South Africa will be one of the highlights of the whole tournament, with the winner being advantaged in the race to make the semi finals. With the added confidence of jumping to number two in the latest world rankings, this just might be Jamaica’s year.
Current INF World Ranking: 9
Group Matches: New Zealand, Singapore and Barbados
Placing at 2015 NWC: 6th
5 NWC Appearances
Team: Jane Chimaliro, Thandie Galeta, Joana Kachilika, Alinafe Kamwala, Bridget Kumwenda, Takondwa Lwazi, Carol Mtukule, Joyce Mvula, Grace Mwafirlirwa, Loreen Ngwira, Sindi Simtowe, Towera Vinkhumbo
In 2007 the Malawi Queens finished in 5th place at the Netball World Cup in New Zealand. It’s their best placing at a World Cup, and following a shock win over the Silver Ferns at the 2018 Commonwealth Games they’ll have their sights set on claiming a few more scalps in Liverpool. But they’ll have to do it without their star shooter, Mwai Kumwenda, who is still out of action following major knee surgery last year.
They certainly don’t lack flair in their line-up though. Joyce Mvula was recently voted ‘Fans Player of the Season’ in the UK Vitality Super League for her role in Manchester Thunder’s premiership winning season, while Loreen Ngwira (London Pulse) will add much needed experience to the group.
With automatic qualification into the tournament, this incredibly athletic squad will be a handful for their Group B opponents, New Zealand, Singapore and Barbados. After recently slipping to 9th in the INF rankings, the Queens will be desperate to perform well at this tournament to show that they are still one of the teams to fear.
Current INF World Ranking: 4
Group Matches: Malawi, Barbados and Singapore.
Placing at 2015 NWC: 2nd
14 NWC Appearances
Team: Karin Burger, Gina Crampton, Ameliaranne Ekenasio, Maria Folau, Phoenix Karaka, Casey Kopua, Laura Langman (capt), Bailey Mes, Katrina Rore, Shannon Saunders, Te Paea Selby-Rickit, Jane Watson
After finishing fourth at the Commonwealth Games, New Zealand’s first ever slip out of the medals, incoming coach Noeline Taurua drew a line in the sand. To be selected, her players have had to meet stringent criteria, particularly around conditioning to meet the demands of a Netball World Cup. This raised some eyebrows when the team was selected, but Taurua has now had long enough in control to stamp her authority on the team and the signs are good.
In recent match play against a men’s invitational side, the group looked sharp and the shooters accurate. Maria Folau in particular was in sparkling form, despite all the controversy swirling around her husband. The shooting circle is the big question mark with the New Zealand team as that’s where they have struggled in recent years. Folau and Ameliaranne Ekenasio can both be a bit hit and miss at times, but when they are on, they are almost impossible to contain.
Having been out of the Silver Ferns for several years Laura Langman (omission, NNZ policy) and Casey Kopua (maternity leave, injury) will add physical and mental strength to the group. Together with Folau they are three of New Zealand’s most inspirational players, and as the trio are unlikely to see another World Cup, the team will be looking forward to making their campaign a memorable one.
There are injury concerns over returning former skipper, Katrina Rore, and Michaela Sokolich-Beatson is travelling with the group in case she’s needed. But all things considered, the future looks bright for New Zealand under Taurua, and it would be foolish to write them off on the basis of their previous form. This is an event that the Silver Ferns have won on four occasions, and they will be looking to return to the podium in 2019.
Current INF World Ranking: 8
Group Matches: Australia, Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka
Placing at 2015 NWC: Didn’t Qualify
11 NWC Appearances
Team: Noleen Armstrong, Shaunagh Craig, Niamh Cooper, Ciara Crosbie, Michelle Drayne, Gemma Lawlor, Emma Magee, Michelle Magee, Lisa McCaffrey, Caroline O’Hanlon (capt), Fionnuala Toner, Neamh Woods
Under the guidance of new coach, Australian Dan Ryan, Northern Ireland will be looking to make their mark in the World Cup, after a heartbreaking non-qualification in 2015. Their World Cup squad has retained nine of the 12 players who took part in the 2018 Commonwealth Games, where they finished in 8th place; and while they have lost some experienced players due to retirement, they have recently had a boost to their team with 26 year old Shaunagh Craig, who will make her Netball World Cup Debut for Northern Ireland.
A former England Under 21 player, Craig (who is eligible to play through her mother) brings a wealth of experience and standing at over 6ft, she is a welcome addition to the shooting circle. In contrast Northern Ireland netball and football star Caroline O’Hanlon will line up for an impressive third World Cup, her first was back in 2003 in Jamaica. O’Hanlon will once again captain the team, and will be in the mood to continue her winning form after celebrating a recent victory with Manchester Thunder in the Vitality Superleague final in the UK.
Unfortunately, Lisa Bowman recently suffered a severe ankle injury and was ruled out of the tournament. Her replacement is Noleen Armstrong who brings some great experience to the team, previously featuring in two World Cups (2003, 2011). She’s come out of retirement to line up for one last time.
Current INF World Ranking: 14
Group Matches: Uganda, Scotland and England
Placing at 2015 NWC: 10th
7 NWC Appearances
Team: Eseta Autagavaia, Afi Lafaiali’i-Sapolu, Ariana Luamanu, Lenora Misa, Ann Helen Nu’uali’itia, Rachel Rasmussen, Soli Ropati, Tee Salanoa, Gerardine Solia-Gibb, Toa Tanimo, Sanita To’o, Brooke Amber Williams
Heading into their eighth Netball World Cup, the Samoan Netball team conquered all four of the Oceania teams in their division including Tonga, Papua New Guinea, Fjii and the Cook Islands on their way to qualifying top of their region.
Samoa’s head coach and former team captain is Frances Solia, who netball fans will know well from her days playing in the ANZ Netball Championship, where she was the captain of the Central Pulse and later represented Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic. Solia brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to her team, who now sit 14th in the current rankings.
Samoa made their World Cup debut in 1991, when the games were held in Sydney and it was in that tournament that they recorded their highest ever finish of sixth place. In recent years, their ranking has been on the slide after Netball New Zealand toughened its stance on player eligibility, meaning that Samoa now has a smaller pool of players to pick from.
They will face tough matches against England and Uganda, but will be hoping to hold Scotland to a closer scoreline.
Current INF World Ranking: 7
Group Matches: Samoa, Uganda and England
Placing at 2015 NWC: 12th
13 NWC Appearances
Team: Emma Barrie, Kelly Boyle, Lynsey Gallagher, Ella Gibbons, Bethan Goodwin, Sarah MacPhail, Claire Maxwell (capt), Niamh McCall, Nicola McCleery, Hayley Mulheron, Emily Nicholl, Lauren Tait
Under New Zealand born coach Gail Parata, the Scottish Thistles have unobtrusively and consistently been working their way up the world rankings. They will arrive in Liverpool ranked seventh in the world, their highest ever placing. They’ll have many Netball World Cup debutants in their side, including 17 year old Emma Barrie; but team captain Claire Maxwell, who is set to reach 100 test matches for her country during the tournament, believes the team has been working hard in training and will be looking to cement combinations all over the court in the lead up to the first whistle.
The Scottish Thistles have had good preparation leading into the World Cup with 11 out of the 12 players representing the Strathclyde Sirens in the intense environment of the UK Vitality Netball Superleague. They are the only country to compete as an entity in a domestic competition, and although they finished ninth out of 10 teams it will provide them with invaluable experience for Liverpool.
As a by-product of their England Roses neighbours winning gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Scottish netball has seen unparalleled and remarkable growth. They will look to consolidate this momentum with a strong performance at the tournament, leading to further development of the sport and strengthening the future of netball in Scotland.
Current INF World Ranking: 26
Group Matches: Malawi, Barbados and New Zealand
Placing at 2015 NWC: 15th
11 NWC Appearances
Team: Aqilah Andin, Carmen Goh, Kimberley Lim, Sindhu Nair, Shawallah Rashid, Lee Pei Shan, Kwok Shuyi, Charmaine Soh (capt), Melody Teo, Joanna Toh, Toh Kai Wei, Tan Xin Yi.
Captained by Chamaine Soh in her third Netball World Cup appearance, the Singapore national netball team will take on Barbados in their opening match in Liverpool. Having experienced nine World Cup tournaments already, their first being in Perth, Australia in 1967, Singapore are not strangers to the competitive nature of international netball. Their best finish at a World Cup was 12th out of 26 nations in 1999, but they’ve slowly slipped down the world rankings since that time.
This year Singapore finished second behind Sri Lanka in regional qualifiers, but have only two players who remain from the Netball World Cup squad of 2015, captain Charmine Soh and mid-courter, Kimberly Lin.
In Liverpool, the team’s aspiration is to finish in the top 12; to make that a reality they need to finish in the top three of Group B, which includes New Zealand, Malawi and their first round rivals, Barbados. It will be a challenging feat, given that Singapore are traditionally a shorter team, and Malawi and Barbados in particular play more of an aerial game.
Current INF World Ranking: 5
Group Matches: Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago and Fiji.
Placing at 2015 NWC: 5th
8 NWC Appearances
Team: Erin Burger, Sigrid Burger, Khanyisa Chawane, Izette Griesel, Maryka Holtzhausen, Phumza Maweni, Bongiwe Msomi (capt), Lenize Potgieter, Karla Pretorius, Renske Stoltz, Shadine van der Merwe, Zanele Vimbela
South Africa should go into the 2019 Netball World Cup brimming with confidence. After several years sitting just outside the top four, this Proteas team is well placed to change that in Liverpool. With legendary Australian coach Norma Plummer in charge, there is a settled and controlled look to the team and they should have no fears, no matter who they come up against.
South Africa has a well balanced squad, but their greatest strength is probably in defence. This is particularly the case now with their combination of Phumza Maweni and Karla Pretorius getting the chance to play together each week in Super Netball for the Sunshine Coast Lightning. Pretorius is surely the best goal defence in world netball currently, with reflexes that make even the most competent opposition wary in attack.
The midcourt is led by the vastly experienced Erin Burger and Bongiwe Msomi, while Lenize Potgieter is the star of the shooting circle. She wasn’t part of the Commonwealth Games team due to injury, so it is a bonus for South Africa to have her back now. How she combines with first choice goal attack Maryka Holtzhausen will go a long way to deciding South Africa’s fate. Shooter Ine-Mari Venter had to pull out of the squad late due to injury, and she’s been replaced by Sigi Burger, who was somewhat controversially left out initially.
The Proteas are in the hardest group and in the hardest half of the draw, but that shouldn’t faze them. There’s no reason they can’t match up well to Jamaica in what looms as the most decisive group game of Stage One. They also have a good recent record against England, so while it will certainly be tough to qualify for the semi finals, this team will give it a good shake.
Current INF World Ranking: 18
Group Matches: Northern Ireland, Zimbabwe and Australia
Placing at 2015 NWC: 16th
9 NWC Appearances
Team: Darshika Abeywickrama, Gayanjali Amarawansa, Deepika Abeykoon, Dulanga Ambeygoda, Gayani Dissanayake, Chathurangi Jayasooriya (capt), Hasitha Mendis, Nauchalee Rajapakse, Elilenthini Sethukavalar, Tharjini Sivalingam, Dulangi Wannithilake, Thilini Waththegedara
Liverpool will be the 10th Netball World Cup appearance for the Sri Lankan national team. Their World Cup journey started in 1963, where they finished the tournament in ninth place, and it remains their best placing at this pinnacle event. Sri Lanka has a proud history competing in the annual Asian Championships, and in 2018 they were named champions of the tournament for the fifth time since its inception in 1985, defeating the home side Singapore in a tightly contested match 72-70.
They have the world’s tallest netball player in their team; standing at 2.08m, 36 year old Tharjini Sivalingam is also Sri Lanka’s most capped player. Sivalingam made her international debut in 2009 and was awarded the Best Shooter at the 2011 Netball World Cup. Due to political reasons she was stood down from the national team for two years, which included the 2015 Netball World Cup.
With just one new player, Deepika Darshani, the squad that were crowned Asian Champions will be the ones tasked with putting in a strong performance at this tournament and bettering their 2015 Netball World Cup placing of 16th. With Sivalingam back in the mix, that looks achievable.
Trinidad and Tobago
Current INF World Ranking: 10
Group Matches: Fiji, South Africa and Jamaica
Placing at 2015 NWC: 9th
13 NWC Appearances
Team: Aniecia Baptiste, Candice Gueteto, Tahirah Hollingsworth, Onella Jack Hill, Rhonda John-Davis, Jameela McCarthy, Kalifa MCollin, Shaquanda Queena, Daystar Swift, Samantha Wallace, Shantel Seemungal, Shernece Seemungal
An incredibly dominant force in the netball world throughout the mid 1970’s and 1980’s, Trinidad and Tobago, also known as the Calypso Girls, jointly won the Netball World Cup in 1979. They have finished on the podium three times, claiming 3rd place in 1983 and 2nd place in 1987. They fell away in the 1990’s and have a current World Ranking of 10, something the Calypso Girls will look to improve on in Liverpool.
They are placed in Group C, so have some formidable opponents in Jamaica and South Africa, but with players the calibre of Samantha Wallace, whose NSW Swifts sit on top of the Suncorp Super Netball ladder, and Kalifa McCollin who has just finished her season with the Celtic Dragons in the UK Super League, they will not go down without a fight. Their team also includes stalwart Rhonda John-Davis, who will set a record when she takes the court for her country. John-Davis will have an incredible six world cups to her name, spanning two decades.
Trinidad and Tobago were in fine form on their road to qualify for the World Cup, winning all 6 of their matches. A nation with a strong and proud netball history, Trinidad and Tobago can boast that they are the only other country aside from Australia and New Zealand to have ever won a Netball World Cup.
Current INF World Ranking: 6
Group Matches: Scotland, England and Samoa
Placing at 2015 NWC: 8th
2 NWC Appearances
Team: Jesca Achan, Lilian Ajio, Mary Cholhok, Betty Kizza, Ruth Meeme, Joan Nampungu, Muhayimina Namuwaya, Stella Nanfuka, Rachael Nanyonga, Sylivia Nanyonga, Stella Oyella, Peace Proscovia (capt)
A dynamic and athletic team, the Uganda She Cranes have made great strides in the netball world in the last few years. They not long ago sat in 15th place in the world rankings; but with hard work and dedication, they will enter this Netball World Cup ranked sixth. They have some experience on the elite netball stage, and this is formally their second World Cup appearance. They are one of four African teams to qualify for the event, and have been drawn in Group D which will see them face England, Scotland and Samoa.
At the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Uganda finished in sixth place, beaten 53-42 by South Africa. One of the stars of that campaign, Peace Proscovia has won the hearts of fans around the world and she is now a formidable talent in the Sunshine Coast Lightning line up. Proscovia, who has been named team captain for the Netball World Cup, has been in top form in 2019. The She Cranes will look to capitalise on her ability under the post, through the clever playmaking of Rachael Nanyonga at goal attack. It will also be interesting to see how much game time another shooter, the towering Mary Cholhok gets after a tremendous season in the UK Superleague.
Current INF World Ranking: 13
Group Matches: Australia, Sri Lanka and Northern Ireland
Placing at 2015 NWC: Didn’t Qualify
No World Cup appearances (Making their NWC debut)
Team: Sharon T. Bwanali, Pauline Jani, Rudo Karume, Felisitus Kwangwa, Claris Kwaramba, Ndaizivei Madzikangava, Sharleen Makusha, Patricia Mauladi, Adelaide Muskwe, Ursula Ndlovu, Perpetua Siyachitema, Joice Takaidza
Zimbabwe will make history in Liverpool as they compete in their first Netball World Cup, the fortieth ever nation to do so. They qualified for the Netball World Cup finishing in second place behind Uganda in Zambia, at the African Netball Championship in 2018. The team named the ‘Gems’ see themselves in an extremely tough group stage pool, where they will face defending champions Australia, Northern Ireland and Sri Lanka.
Despite their incredible achievement of qualifying for the event, the team has been struggling to collect the financial aid that their government had promised. Though it was promised that their preparation camp would be fully-funded, they recently had to cancel two practice matches in Uganda in the lead up to the event, as they simply could not get there.
Once the Gems arrive in Liverpool the Zimbabwe diaspora and business community will welcome the players and provide them with goods to make their transition into the global sporting community smoother.
A pretty good form guide
Great read and accurate and realistic expectations for all the teams. Good to get some insight into the lesser known teams.