Natalie tests herself against world’s best

England's Natalie Haythornthwaite (right) and Australia's Elizabeth Watson during the third international series match at The Copper Box, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday January 24, 2016. See PA story NETBALL England. Photo credit should read: Nigel French/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
England's Natalie Haythornthwaite (right) and Australia's Elizabeth Watson during the third international series match at The Copper Box, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday January 24, 2016. See PA story NETBALL England. Photo credit should read: Nigel French/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.

Barrowford’s Natalie Haythornthwaite hopes the experience of facing the world’s best will stand her in good stead in her burgeoning international career.

The 22-year-old – named 2015 Superleague Player of the Season – featured in the second and third Tests as Australia claimed a 3-0 series whitewash.

Natalie, who won her first three caps in the summer series with Trinidad and Tobago, was thrilled to test herself against the top-ranked side in the world: “They are the number one team and we are ranked third, and we went in 100% with the intention of performing well, and with performances, you hope you get results.

“We would have loved to beat them, so were disappointed, but the exposure to that level was good for a young squad, with some players taking time out or retiring recently.”

Coach Tracey Neville handed Natalie her debut in the summer, and called on her again in front of two sell-out crowds at the Copper Box against the Diamonds.

Natalie added: “It was hard, but it they are a brilliant team. The coach said to me that you can train all you want, but until you play against the best, you won’t know what it feels like, and it was a fantastic experience.

“My heart was racing when I first went on court, but opportunities like that don’t come around too often and I was grateful for the chance.

“Hopefully I can continue to develop, learn and improve, and establish myself at this level.”

Tomorrow, Natalie turns her attentions to domestic matters, as the Vitality Super league season opens with Super Saturday, with four games live on Sky at Genting Arena, Birmingham.