Natalie ready for Aussie series

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BARROWFORD’S England netball prospect Natalie Haythornthwaite will further her international experience over the next fortnight as the Under 21 squad travel to Australia for a five-match tour.

The 20-year-old, who has already represented her country at youth and Under 21 level, earned a place in the senior squad for their historic Test series win against Australia on home turf in January.

And having enjoyed her first taste of life with the full England squad, the Yorkshire Jets wing attack is back with the Under 21s as part of the preparations for the World Youth Netball Championships in Glasgow in August.

The squad fly Down Under from Heathrow on Monday morning, before what England Netball describe as “an ultra-competitive week of action which will allow the team to experience playing against high class opposition and various styles of play.”

Competing at the Australian Institite of Sport against a combined Under 21 and Institute squad, Natalie is looking forward to pitting her wits against the Aussies, having already captaining the Great Britain squad to gold at the World University Games in Cape Town last summer.

She has also led England Under 21s to a 2-1 Test series victory over South Africa, and helped England finish third in the Constellation Cup Under 21 International Netball Series in Ballarat, Victoria behind hosts Australia and New Zealand.

Natalie, described as “a clever player, with plenty of flair in attack, who can make an impact on the global stage in the coming years”, is looking forward to taking on the Australians again: “It should be another good experience.

“Winning the Test series with the senior England squad was a big thing, and this is a great opportunity for us to go and try and do the same in Australia.

“It’s another great experience which will help us get ready for the World Youth Championships.”

The former Fisher-More pupil is combining her burgeoning netball career with her studies, making for a busy time for the youngster: “I handed in my last essay this week, which was great, but our coach has been really good with us all on this tour, as we have been set aside work hours as well as training and the games themselves.”

All the while, the framework is being put in place to make sure England’s first-ever series win over Australia isn’t a one-off.

England Netball have identified locations to host their network of Intensive Netball Training Centres, which will be based in Bath and Manchester, with a search underway for a London centre,

The Intensive Netball Training Centre network is intended to improve the standard of the country’s best netballers and to help achieve the aim of becoming World Netball champions by 2019.

There will be programmes of regular coached training and supervised strength and conditioning, on-site physiotherapy, performance lifestyle and medical services.

That means players like Natalie will continue to develop, with the Manchester centre ideally located, and she said: “That is great news, setting up special areas for us to train together on a more regular basis.

“I think it will be a very good thing for England Netball.”