With the news of Serena Guthrie not putting her netball shoes back on due to her pregnancy and surprise retirement announcement back in March this year, the question of who will take her place in the starting 7 lineup is a conversation many of us have had. Now, we may not be Jess Thirlby and have no real say on the matter, but we’ve listed our top three favourite options and reasons below on who should play centre. Do you think the England Coach would agree with our choices?
Jade Clarke – She maybe one of the older players in the squad but that only means she brings a lot of experience with her to play centre. Jade has appeared in four Commonwealth Games and five Netball World Cups during her time in the red dress. She’s currently vice captain but was captain for the Vitality Roses back in 2011, captaining them to their first ever gold in the 2011 World Netball Series. Even after her record holding appearances she still loves to run away and play Centre. “I have always played centre, I always loved it. You can go in the most space on the court and I like running”. Centre court sounds like it was designed around Jade!
Beth Cobden – Making her debut with England Netball back in 2016, this will be her second Commonwealth Games for the Vitality Roses. Beth started her VNSL career with Manchester Thunder before moving to Loughborough Lightning, where she was named in the Vitality Netball Superleague All Star VII for both 2017 and 2018. She has established herself as a specialist Wing Defence, but we feel her defensive tactic can be used as an advantage when achieving turnovers whilst running up and down the court.
Natalie Panagarry – A popular and energetic member of the squad, she was nominated Vitality Player of the Year and the Fans’ Player of the Year in 2019. Alongside Beth, she is a member for Loughborough Lightning, joining the team back in 2015 and captained the squad to victory in the Grand Final of the 2021 season. Although her other typical position is Wing Defence, she can offer an attacking option too, propelling the ball down the court and using her speed to work her way through the midcourt to attack. We view her as a hefty contributor for the Vitality Roses which is why she’s placed as our final choice to play Centre for this year’s Commonwealth Games.
Overall, we think all three of our choices are great options and we hope to see all three them contribute to England’s success at the Commonwealth Games which takes place this summer at the NEC. England’s first game is against Trinidad & Tobago on the 29th July, so don’t forget to put the date in your diary!