Blue & Gold stars past and present ready to shine at 2019 Netball World Cup in Liverpool
The long wait for the 2019 Netball World Cup is nearly over and nine days of top-class international sport is about to get under way in Liverpool.
Team Bath Netball co-captains Serena Guthrie and Eboni Usoro-Brown will be key figures in England’s bid to capitalise fully on home advantage and be crowned as World Champions for the first-time ever.
But they aren’t the only familiar faces to Blue & Gold fans who will be taking to the court at the M&S Bank Arena from July 12-21, with nine former Team Bath players representing five different countries on the sport’s biggest stage.
As well as Serena – who is captaining the Roses – and Eboni, the home squad also includes Geva Mentor, Rachel Dunn and Layla Guscoth.
Geva and Rachel were both part of the first-ever Team Bath Superleague squad back in 2005-06, under the guidance of legendary coach Lyn Gunson, and – like many in that team – have enjoyed stellar careers in the sport.
Now with Collingwood Magpies in Melbourne, Geva has been voted as best GK in Suncorp Super Netball for the past two years after leading Sunshine Coast Lightning to successive titles.
University of Bath Biology graduate Rachel spent six years in the Blue & Gold and currently represents Wasps Netball, making her 200th Superleague appearance last season.
Layla is a more recent member of the Team Bath family having forged the strongest defence in the Superleague with Eboni in both 2017 and 2018. After completing her medical training last year, which included a spell at the RUH in Bath, Layla has taken the opportunity to play professionally in Australia with Adelaide Thunderbirds and resume her international career.
England’s Preliminaries Stage One Group D fixtures:
- England v Uganda – Friday, July 12 (7pm).
- England v Scotland – Saturday, July 13 (3pm).
- England v Samoa – Sunday, July 14 (11am).
The Sunshine Girls go into the competition ranked second in the world, having climbed back above England when the latest rankings were released at the end of June.
Hoping to help Jamaica live up to that status is experienced defender Vangelee Williams, who played for Team Bath alongside compatriot Shantel Slater in 2017.
Vangelee made her international debut seven years ago and has gone on to win bronze with Jamaica at both the 2014 and 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Jamaica’s Preliminaries Stage One Group C fixtures:
- Jamaica v Fiji – Friday, July 12 (5pm).
- Jamaica v Trinidad & Tobago – Saturday, July 13 (5pm).
- Jamaica v South Africa – Sunday, July 14 (5pm).
She may have represented England at U17, U19 and U21 level but Shaunagh Craig will be making her senior championship debut for Northern Ireland after being named in their Netball World Cup squad – she made her debut last weekend.
It is a tremendous opportunity for the goal-shooter, who was part of the Blue & Gold’s last Superleague-winning squad in 2013 but suffered from serious injury problems at Team Bath – including an injury two days before the 2011 Netball World Cup after being selected for England.
She made an emotional and popular return to action in the second half of the 2015 season and was voted as Supporters’ Player of the Year before leaving for New Zealand after the 2016 campaign.
As well as her playing career, Shaunagh was also South West Performance Pathway Coach for England Netball and studied Sports Performance at the University of Bath, where she was supported by a Santander Sports Scholarship.
Northern Ireland’s Preliminaries Stage One Group A fixtures:
- Northern Ireland v Australia – Friday, July 12 (11am).
- Northern Ireland v Sri Lanka – Saturday, July 13 (9.25am).
- Northern Ireland v Zimbabwe – Sunday, July 14 (3.25pm).
When England face Scotland on day two of the Netball World Cup, there promises to be Team Bath players past and present leading out the teams.
Claire Maxwell (nee Brownie) will captain the Thistles at the tournament and is on course to win her 100th cap in the group stages. The centre was a popular member of the Team Bath squad in 2015 and 2016 before returning to her native Scotland when Strathclyde Sirens joined the Superleague in 2017.
Scotland’s Preliminaries Stage One Group D fixtures:
- Scotland v Samoa – Friday, July 12 (7.25pm).
- Scotland v England – Saturday, July 13 (3pm).
- Scotland v Uganda – Sunday, July 14 (11.25am).
The SPAR Proteas are currently ranked fifth in the world and feature three faces familiar to Team Bath and Superleague fans in recent years.
Defender Karla Pretorius (nee Mostert) and shooter Lenize Potgieter both shone for the Blue & Gold in 2016, helping Team Bath to a third-placed finish in the Superleague.
Karla’s form in England earned her a nomination for Sky Sports Netball Player of the Season and she went on to forge an outstanding partnership with Geva Mentor for Sunshine Coast Lightning in Australia, winning back-to-back Suncorp Super Netball titles.
Lenize also moved Down Under after her time in Bath and, after spells in the ANZ Premiership, has joined Queensland Firebirds in Suncorp Super Netball for the rest of the 2019 season. She will then move to Adelaide Thunderbirds in 2020.
Defender Zanele Vimbela joined Team Bath early in the 2018 Superleague season as an injury replacement for Josie Janz-Dawson and, during her time in England, was among 30 University-based athletes to compete at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.
South Africa’s Preliminaries Stage One Group C fixtures:
- South Africa v Trinidad & Tobago – Friday, July 12 (5.25pm).
- South Africa v Fiji – Saturday, July 13 (5.25pm).
- South Africa v Jamaica – Sunday, July 14 (5pm).