Jo Harten and Geva Mentor have both announced that they will be taking six-month breaks away from England’s Vitality Roses programme.

Harten, who celebrated her 100th appearance for the international side in Liverpool, has been at the top of the world game for 12 years, while Mentor was first selected for England back in 2000 and made her debut the following year.

As both players’ immediate futures are announced, Harten spoke exclusively to Sky Sports about her reasons behind stepping back from the international arena – for now.

During some open and honest conversations with Jess Thirlby, Harten shared her decision in the weeks that followed the World Cup and as a result, consciously took a step away from all aspects of the Roses’ recent tour to the Southern Hemisphere.

“I’m trying to stay out of it because part of having a little break from the international game for probably this six-month period is about mentally detaching yourself from the England programme,” Harten shared exclusively with Sky Sports.

“We have so many WhatsApp groups and you’ve got so much information when you’re in that system and in that programme, that it’s really hard to keep up with that all-year around.

“So, I’ve tried to take a little step back from the netball information and just try and be ‘normal Jo’ for a few weeks and a few months.”

I’m taking this break mentally and physically for six months from the international game and then once I go back out to GIANTS, I’ll assess the year ahead in 2020 and see what happens.

Jo Harten, about her conversions with Jess Thirlby

Harten made her international debut back in 2007 and ever since, the very top of the world game has been her home. Like fellow professionals, both in netball and in other sports, she feels that a sabbatical is now required.

“You can’t maintain the pressure and that level of professionalism year after year, cycle after cycle,” the shooter noted.

“I’ve been doing it for 12 years now so there had to be a little bit of give and it’s probably going to be good for my body as well. A little less training and see what happens in 2020…”

Serena Guthrie will be taking a full year out from netball whilst Harten and Mentor still play Suncorp Super Netball Serena Guthrie will be taking a full year out from netball whilst Harten and Mentor still play Suncorp Super Netball Serena Guthrie will be taking a full year out from netball whilst Harten and Mentor still play Suncorp Super Netball

With both Harten and Serena Guthrie taking international breaks (a full break for a year for Guthrie) and the decisions of others yet to be known, the stage is set for a different group of individuals to step up over the coming weeks and months. The shooter believes that this will be positive for the international programme as a whole.

“We [Serena and I] were very fortunate that when we were 21 and 22-years-old, we got opportunities as starting players,” said Harten.

“We were obviously talented but we had to go through that process of getting smashed by Australia and New Zealand, touring the world and learning how to be an England athlete.

“I think that’s what’s happening now, so I think that it’s great when players do take a little step back from the game and youngsters take the opportunity that they’ve worked for and they’ve earned.

“But, they have to learn how hard it is as well and I’m sure the group that toured out to Australia and New Zealand will have experienced some hard times as well.”