Tracey Neville looks to bury the past as England take on New Zealand in the Netball World Cup semi-finals
- Tracey Neville wants to rid England of their unfortunate semi-final hang-up
- The Roses have never made it beyond the last four at any Netball World Cup
- Saturday is the chance for Neville and her record-breaking team to change that
Tracey Neville is well aware of England’s unfortunate hang-up when it comes to World Cup semi-finals.
The Roses have never made it beyond the last four and have finished third at the last two World Cups. But on Saturday is the chance for Neville and her record-breaking team to change that.
‘My four-year plan was always building up to this World Cup and winning that gold medal,’ she told Sportsmail before the tournament.
Tracey Neville wants to rid England of their unfortunate World Cup semi-final hang-up
And with six wins from six over the last eight days — helped by Jo Harten and Helen Housby’s formidable shooting — they are two matches away from it.
Last year’s Commonwealth Games victory certainly gives them confidence they will not fall at the final-four stage again.
The sell-out home crowd, which has provided the intimidating red-and-white amphitheatre Neville so desperately craved, has also provided a boost to the squad.
However, while New Zealand look an easier opponent than holders and favourites Australia would have done at this stage, Saturday’s semi-final clash will not be easy.
Four years ago, at this very stage, the Silver Ferns dashed England’s hopes with a 50-39 victory, and they are bidding to make a sixth straight final.
The Roses finished third at the 2015 Netball World Cup and third four years before that
Their head-to-head at World Cups also makes uncomfortable reading for home fans — with 13 wins for New Zealand to just one for England.
‘I am not thinking about a final, I am taking the game and the squad day by day and they have succeeded for me,’ Neville told Sky Sports.
‘We have been through losses and wins, but all I can ask for is the heart, soul and passion they have shown so far and the result will speak for itself.’
New Zealand captain Laura Langman is one of the best mid-court players in the world, and it will be up to England captain Serena Guthrie to match her.
Guthrie told Sportsmail before the World Cup began that the team had drawn extra motivation from Neville’s announcement that she will step down as head coach after the tournament.
England captain Serena Guthrie insists she and her team-mates want to give Neville a send off
‘Not that we need any extra motivation, but to be able to send Tracey off on a high would be amazing,’ Guthrie said.
‘No matter what happens out there, we will have put netball on the map.’
Neville’s side have received a good luck message from her twin brother Phil’s Lionesses, who urged them to ‘bring it home’ and go further than they were able to do at their own World Cup.
And now they have the backing of the victorious England cricket team as well.
Eoin Morgan sent a video message saying: ‘We managed to win the World Cup and what a feeling it was. Very best of luck, we’re all watching. Good luck girls.’