New England head coach Jess Thirlby speaks exclusively to Sky Sports from her first training camp as Vitality Roses head coach and discusses their immediate steps forwards and why she is so inspired by the group around her.
For all of the sides that took to the court at July’s Netball World Cup, the final day marked the end of a four-year cycle and for the Roses it marked the end of the Tracey Neville era.
Shortly afterwards Thirlby was announced as Neville’s successor, and now the former international player’s tenure has commenced with a maiden camp that is taking place on the border of the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District.
The camp marks the first time that, in Thirlby’s words, England’s “new cohort” and “next generation” of players are coming together, and as a group they are taking the first steps on a new and exciting journey.
Sky Sports caught up with the Roses’ head coach after a day-and-a-half in camp and she started by being incredibly open and honest about her own emotions, as she embarks on the biggest journey of her coaching career.
“It’s been great to get going to be honest. I feel almost at home once we’re in camp and in this environment, but obviously it’s all still very new as well,” Thirlby told Sky Sports.
“It’s quite a conflict. I feel very much at home in my coaching skin but obviously I am really appreciating the freshness of it and the opportunity to work with this group.
“I appreciate that we’re in year one of this cycle but, for me, it’s like every moment is really special. I’ve just enjoyed the first 36 hours of being in camp and seeing the characters coming together. They’ve had a real energy about them which has been really good to see.”
The group of players that are in camp contains a dichotomy of individuals, from those that were present in Liverpool to those that are experiencing the programme for the first time. Regardless of players’ previous experience levels, Thirlby is pleased with what she is seeing.
“We’ve obviously got the likes of Nat Panagarry and Fran Williams here who have just finished that World Cup journey and to have them in camp, with players that have been on the fringes, is really valuable. They’re as energised as any of the other players here too,” said the head coach.
“There’s a really good atmosphere with a bit of everything. It’s important for me to step back and observe the group as they will be doing to me, it works both ways. I can’t fault their efforts so far and it bodes well.”