England head coach Jess Thirlby calls on his team to be careful before the World Netball Championship. Her team didn't look so ideal in the Quad Series, but they ended up finishing third after a win against South Africa. However, there is a lot of positivity in the team, and Thirlby expects positive things.
"It was scrappy, it wasn't the prettiest of wins," Thirlby told Sky Sports. "But I think given the journey through the Quad Series that we've had, I thought it was a good way for us to finish and show the grit, in particular, that I think this team have become known for.
It's been a good journey. We've just got to keep finding away to compete with those ranked above us. We're respectful of the likes of New Zealand and Australia, but we've actually found ways to get a foothold against them, which is a little bit of new territory for us that we've got to grow a maturity around how to finish those games and punish them more." Such matches are a great test for her team.
The strengths and weaknesses of the team should be determined well. "In the couple of weeks after this, there's going to be so much information for us to take, and it's important to acknowledge that," Thirlby said. "These games are here for a purpose.
We put ourselves out in two back-to-back series, it's a big ask of the group but it's exactly what we needed ahead of the summer."
She emphasized that there is unity in the team. A large number of criticisms can damage team spirit, but the coach is there to restore self-confidence to the team.
"I don't think I can combat all of the noise and the criticisms, but I will absolutely defend this group to the hilt," Thirlby said. "Their cohesion, togetherness and loyalty to one and other is unquestionable. They review wins and losses exactly the same way, which is exactly what any championship winning side that's on track to try to learn to win more consistently should be doing.
So this team for me, they're the most together group that I've worked with and it's an absolute joy to see their team resilience grow over the course of January."