Jess Thirlby named new head coach of England netball

Jess Thirlby has been named as the new England netball head coach.

The former England international has replaced Tracey Neville, who stepped down after leading the Roses to a bronze medal at this month’s World Cup.

Thirlby left her role as head coach of Team Bath in January after 20 years as a player and coach.

England Netball chief executive Joanna Adams said Thirlby is the “perfect fit” because of her “thorough understanding of elite netball”.

“This is a great time to be taking on the role as we head into an exciting next chapter and my focus will be to harness and build upon the momentum and solid foundation gained over the past four years,” the new Roses head coach said.

“I expect the look and feel of the team to change as some players may begin to consider hanging up their netball trainers following the World Cup, but I am excited to invest in and develop the amazing new talent that is coming through.”

Thirlby was Team Bath’s first full-time player in 1999 and played in their Superleague winning side in 2005-06, before guiding the club to another four titles as coach.

She also represented England as a player between 1991 and 2006, including an appearance at the Manchester 2002 Commonwealth Games, before moving into coaching with the Celtic Dragons.

Thirlby says her appointment is “surreal” after a disappointing first taste of youth international netball.

“At age 13, on the eve of my first England trial, I had a phone call to say there had been an administration error and I was too young to trial,” Thirlby told BBC Sport. “Twenty six years later, I’m finding myself in the role of Roses coach.”


BBC Sport’s Emily Croydon

The announcement of Jess Thirlby may come as a surprise to many, but she comes with years of experience as a coach at Team Bath and is no stranger to the England set-up.

Significantly she was involved with the Under-21 team at two World Youth Cups, and has brought through many youngsters including the current England captain Serena Guthrie.

It is this skill in developing youth which may have seen her stand out from other, more fancied applicants. The next four-year cycle for England will bring plenty of change as some of the more experienced names are set to retire.

There is no doubting this is a new era for the England Roses, with a home Commonwealth Games in 2022 the next major event. Thirlby will look to bring through the next generation of talent so England are in the best place ever to defend their Commonwealth title in Birmingham.

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