‘No excuses’ for England, says Guthrie, despite Covid concerns

SERENA GUTHRIE says she holds no concern over the potential effects of a lost season and continued postponements on England’s Commonwealth Games title defence.

Serena Guthrie and her England Netball colleagues met in Loughborough for an international training camp, despite the postponement of their four-game series against Jamaica Picture: NIGEL FRENCH/PA WIRE
Serena Guthrie and her England Netball colleagues met in Loughborough for an international training camp, despite the postponement of their four-game series against Jamaica Picture: NIGEL FRENCH/PA WIRE

The Roses were due to host Jamaica in a four-match international series later this month as distant plans for Birmingham 2022 become more pressing, but Covid-19 border restrictions imposed by the UK government left organisers with little choice but to call it off.

England did travel to New Zealand for a three-Test clash in November 2020, although that came off the back of a cancelled Vitality Superleague season while the Silver Ferns – and their Australian counterparts – were able to continue their domestic campaigns thanks to their governments’ better handling of the pandemic.

Guthrie and Co are now likely to be without competitive fixtures until much later in 2021 as border-restriction uncertainty continues, although the Islander has still travelled to Loughborough for an international training camp.

‘We’re not really in a position to talk about excuses,’ said Guthrie, who captained her country to bronze at the 2019 Netball World Cup, after helping them claim Commonwealth Games gold in Australia a year earlier.

‘I’m not too worried about it. We play together as best we can as a group and we put together some good performances against New Zealand with a very young team. We’re yet to come together as a full-strength unit and that’s a positive when you look at what we’ve got to add for the Commonwealth Games.

‘It’s great that New Zealand and Australia can carry on and continue forward but I don’t think they’ll be further ahead. It might be natural to assume that but I don’t think anyone should underestimate the position we’re in and how hard we’re prepared to work.

‘If we haven’t played netball for another year, maybe I’ll be concerned, but we’ve got the Superleague season lined up now and everyone will be working hard behind the scenes to make sure that definitely goes ahead. Because of that we can get back on track fairly quickly, when we’re getting a touch of the ball a bit more regularly.’

Guthrie is set to return to Team Bath for the start of the 2021 Superleague season on 6 February, with players and coaches taking weekly Covid-19 lateral-flow tests as part of their elite sport exemption from lockdown.

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