Commonwealth Games gold medallist Serena Guthrie captained England Roses to second place in the International Quad Series. England narrowly lost out on goal percentage to Australia, despitebeating the Diamonds 52-49. Earlier in the week, the Roses suffered ashock 48-45 lossto South Africa andbeat New Zealand 54-41. England will now prepare for theWorld Cup, which begins in Liverpool on 12 July.
The Quad Series has been really good preparation for the World Cup – we’ve had all the things we need.
In a way, it’s good to lose if you learn from it. We want results, every team wants results, but you have to look at the bigger picture and what we’re aiming for.
We’ve only recently broken through the glass ceiling to compete with and win against the world’s best sides. It’s important we don’t lose sight of that.
It would be really easy to get caught up in the expectation that England should always win just because we’ve won aCommonwealth gold medal.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t have those expectations, but these competitions make you step back and look at the process, where you’re at and what the other teams are doing.
The Quad Series allowed us to do that and here’s what we’ve learned with six months to go until the World Cup.
1. World Cup so close to call
It’s been the most competitive Quad Series yet if you look at the results, which sets us up well for the summer.
It did hurt to lose to South Africa but, if I look at world netball as a whole, it’s amazing to have these countries stepping up and competing.
We can’t just have Australia and New Zealand. We need everybody to be up there lifting our game.
It lifts interest, people don’t just want to know about two teams, they want to know about five teams.
The margins between teams are so small and that’s exciting for us as players. It’s a real sport now. It’s so competitive.
The World Cup is going to be great because spectators are not going to know who will win and that is what makes sport special.
2. We no longer put Australia on a pedestal
The fact we’ve learned to win against Australia outside a major championships is massive for us.
Yes, the series eluded us and we can’t get away from that. The reality was that we weren’t going to win every game; we were always going to have ups and downs.
For a long time with the Australians, we did put them on a pedestal. They are the world champions and you get that title for a reason.
But for us now, we have to approach opposition as consistently as possible – whether they’re number one or number five.
We’re not quite there yet with that so the Quad Series has been the best preparation we could have had.
3. Riding the wave of the home crowd
The atmosphere and passion that a home crowd brings – you can really feel it. When you’re the away team, you know people are not backing you. There’s not that expectation on you.
Playing in front of people who expect you to win and who are really behind you is amazing but tough.
Our fans are on every pass, they’re riding the wave all the way and that’s a special experience.
For the first time, we’ve got a really solid fan base which consists of our day one supporters and brand new fans. That can only play in our favour come July.
I know the girls really enjoyed the last couple of days at the Copper Box because the atmosphere was phenomenal.
In the Australia game, we spoke about thriving on that because you don’t get it often and you have to learn to love it.
You have to soak it up so you can perform in those pressure moments.
4. We have to keep things fun
We definitely make time for fun. We have to stay true to ourselves.
You’re in camp for a long time and if you’re not having fun, it’s going to be a long, hard slog.
You don’t want it to be like that. You want people to wake up and want to train as hard as they can, but to also have fun and be themselves.
We’re constantly trying to create an environment that will allow for that.
5. We’re confident in our whole squad
We need our whole bench ready to go in and make an impact at any time.
For an example of that, you can’t look further than players like Rachel Dunn and Fran Williams in the game against Australia.
Nat Haythornthwaite didn’t start in the South Africa game, but she also came on in the Australia game and it was seamless.
That’s exactly what we need. It puts a lot of confidence in the coaches to use their bench. We’re building so that our changes are seamless and have an impact.
Serena Guthrie was talking to BBC Sport’s Becky Grey.
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