Quad Series 2023: England head coach Jess Thirlby calls for more ‘maturity’ ahead of Netball World Cup

England finished third in the 2023 Quad Series after defeating hosts South Africa in Wednesday’s third-place play-off; the Roses lost to Australia and New Zealand to miss out on a place in the final. England head coach Jess Thirlby praised her team for showing “grit” to finish third in the Quad Series 2023 but admitted more “maturity” is required ahead of this summer’s Netball World Cup.

Quad Series 2023

Quad Series 2023 England head coach Jess Thirlby calls for more 'maturity' ahead of Netball World Cup-1
Quad Series 2023

The Roses defeated hosts South Africa in a close third-place play-off to record their first victory in four matches at the event. England had drawn South Africa in the tournament’s first round, after losses to champions Australia and runners-up New Zealand. The tournament was England’s – and their opponents’ – penultimate chance to prepare for the World Cup, which starts on July 28 in Cape Town. “It wasn’t the nicest of victories,” Thirlby told Sky Sports.

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“But, considering our trip through the Quad Series, I felt it was a fantastic way for us to conclude and demonstrate the fortitude, in particular, that I believe this team has become renowned for.” It’s been an enjoyable adventure. We simply have to keep finding ways to compete with people that are rated higher than us. “We respect New Zealand and Australia, but we’ve discovered ways to create a footing against them, which is a little bit of new ground for us, and we’ve had to acquire a maturity around how to finish those games and punish them more.”

The Quad Series came immediately after England’s three-match home series against Jamaica, which Thirlby’s team won 2-1. England is third in the world, one spot ahead of Jamaica. Australia is first, followed by New Zealand, while South Africa is fifth. There will be a lot of information for us to digest in the next weeks, and it’s vital to recognize that,” Thirlby added. “These games have a purpose. We put ourselves out there in two back-to-back series; it was a huge ask of the club, but it was exactly what we needed before the summer.”

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The Quad Series concludes a busy season for England, which saw them lose out on a medal at a home Commonwealth Games in the summer, then defeat Uganda at home before losing 3-0 on a tour of Australia in October and November. “I don’t believe I can deal with all of the noise and criticism, but I will certainly protect this group,” Thirlby added. “Their unity, closeness, and commitment to one another are undeniable. They evaluate victories and defeats in the same manner, which is precisely what every championship-winning team that wants to learn to win more consistently should do.

“For me, this team is the most cohesive group I’ve worked with, and it’s an amazing thrill to witness their team resilience increase over the course of January.” The steady development of Funmi Fadoju, who has established herself as a crucial player ahead of the World Cup, was perhaps the most promising part of England’s performances throughout the Quad Series. The 20-year-old defender made her senior international debut against Uganda in October and seems ready to become one of the sport’s top stars. Her skill was on display against South Africa, as a succession of turnovers helped England win.

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“You can’t ignore Funmi Fadoju,” Thirlby stated. “If there’s somebody to give a little bit more credit to, I believe it’s Funmi today. “She truly selects her moments, with such maturity, to detect that intuition when we need it the most in the game. “I really believe her participation was amazing, but her surroundings truly enable her to thrive.” Former England star Pamela Cookey agreed with Thirlby that the Roses had created the right environment for Fadoju to develop.

“This was the defense we know and love,” Cookey remarked on FoxCric. “That assistance that Fadoju got from Geva (Mentor) at the back lets her to go and play out the front – she had Jade (Clarke) at center and Layla (Guscoth) at wing defense. “That combination is safe, it’s been tried and proven, and we’ve seen them get so much ball it once you put that on there, she can fly.”

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