Nat revels in England experience

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HAVING tasted life with the senior England squad, Barrowford’s Natalie Haythornthwaite is hungry for more.

The 20-year-old was called up to the 15-strong squad for the three-Test series with world champions Australia, stepping up from Under 21 level, and she has thoroughly enjoyed the experience so far.

Anna Mayes’ side inflicted a 58-53 defeat on the world champions on Sunday at the University of Bath - only England’s third victory over the Diamonds - ahead of the second Test on Wednesday night at Wembley Arena, which saw them clinch a series victory with a 51-49 success in a thrilling contest.

The sold-out series comes to an end on Sunday at the NIA in Birmingham, and Natalie has relished rubbing shoulders with the best in the business: “I didn’t make the 12 for the first two Tests, the starting seven or the five on the bench, but it felt like we were part of the wins, all the girls are together, and have been amazing.

“England hadn’t beaten Australia for some time, so it was so good to get the wins, and I think we deserved it.”

The Yorkshire Jets wing attack was thrilled to get the call for the full squad, as one of the most promising youngsters in the country, having last summer captained the Great Britain squad to gold at the World University Games in Cape Town, and leading the England Under 21 squad to a 2-1 Test series victory over South Africa, before helping England finish third in the Constellation Cup Under 21 International Netball Series in Ballarat, Victoria.

And she spoke of her time with the squad: “Training has been hard, but I’m feeling really good and everything is positive.

“I’m just glad to be part of the squad, and we’ve done really well so far. It’s been an amazing couple of weeks, but after this, I’ll be getting ready for the new Superleague season, and preparing for the World Youth Championships with the Under 21s.

“If I get asked back to the full squad, I’ll take it with both hands, but it’s about getting ready for August in Glasgow.”

Natalie hopes now to make the senior squad for the Commonwealth Games next year in Glasgow, when England look to better their bronze medal from Delhi in 2010: “That has to be my long-term goal. I’ve really enjoyed being part of the squad and it would be great to be at the Commonwealth Games.

“But obviously preparing for the World Youth Games is now the priority.”

However, she would love to get that first senior cap on Sunday as England look for a clean sweep in the series: “My family are coming to Birmingham on Sunday, and fingers crossed I can get on the court. But I’ve done really well to be in the 15 in the first place.

“It’s been great, I’ve seen the thought-process at this level, the decision-making - you have less time on the ball, so where to pass the ball and move - and how intense the games are, so it’s been good for me.”