TWO of Team England’s Commonwealth Games netball heroes will be back in Superleague action for Wasps Netball this weekend.
Jade Clarke and Natalie Haythornthwaite have returned to their club after securing a historic gold medal for their country at the Gold Coast in Australia.
Wasps take on Team Bath in the Vitality Netball Superleague at the Ricoh Arena on Sunday and netball director Tamsin Greenway has confirmed the pair are available for selection.
The visitors are also expected to have their England Roses’ duo Eboni Beckford-Chambers and Kadeen Corbin available – meaning four of the 12 players who secured the gold medal could play in the clash.
The gold medal match against Australia marked Clarke’s 150th appearance for the national team, with Haythornthwaite making her Commonwealth Games debut.
Greenway believes the success of Wasps’ two gold medallists will push their team on during the second half of the season.
“They are both going to come back on cloud nine,” she said.
“They will be full of confidence and ready to lead us in the second half of the season.
“We are expecting them both to be available, that’s the plan, and as long as they are both fit they will be straight into the squad for Sunday.
“It’s phenomenal what they achieved and to be playing against Team Bath with their two England players too, it should be a really special occasion.
“We’ve been in touch with Jade and Nat the whole time, we’re so proud of them.
“We’ve been saying it all along – the win is not only great for the England players, it’s great for the sport back home, it’s really exciting.”
Unbeaten Wasps come into the game top of the Superleague with Team Bath third and nine points off the pace, but with two games in hand.
Wasps’ goal attack Renske Stoltz also competed at the Gold Coast games for South Africa, but will not be available to face Bath in what Greenway expects to be a tough assignment.
“It’s a big test to come straight back in to, but Bath have been on a break as well,” she added.
“They are always a great side, they’ve got so many big names and we’re expecting one of the most contested matches of the season.
“After Bath we’ve got Manchester Thunder next week – two teams that will be there or thereabouts – so both these games are quite important to us.
“It definitely won’t be easy, but challenging games like this are the reason why you play and it will be interesting as we’ve not played either of them yet this season.”