Wasps' stars world ambitions

England is preparing to host the Netball World Cup for the first time since 1995 – and three Wasps Netball stars are hopeful of selection.

The 15th Netball World Cup will take place in Liverpool from Friday 12 July to Sunday 21 July.

The last England Vitality Roses squad which competed in the Quad Series saw Fran Williams, Jade Clarke and Rachel Dunn all selected.

Bongi Msomi will also be hoping to play at the tournament with South Africa. Jade Clarke is targeting a fifth successive World Cup, after bursting on to the world stage in 2003.

The mid-court maestro has won two bronze medals, in 2011 and 2015, and is hoping to strike gold if selected this year, but she is most excited about the prospect of playing in a home World Cup.

“There is nothing like playing at home,” said Clarke. “You get goosebumps when you sing the national anthem in front of your home crowd.

“It would be incredible to play in a home World Cup. It’s going to have a huge impact on the

country in terms of different generations getting out there and playing netball, which can add to the legacy of the tournament.”

Clarke, who is England’s record appearance holder, believes the level of quality in the national squad at the moment is as high as it has ever been.

“The England squad is so competitive now,” she said. “We have great youngsters coming

through pushing for places and that is only going to push our standards higher.

“The World Cup is a chance for teams to prove they are the best in the world at that time and is the pinnacle of our sport.”

Goal Shooter Rachel Dunn came away from the Quad Series as one of England’s most talked about stars, securing Player of the Match honours in the clash against Australia.

With players such as Helen Housby, Jo Harten and ex-Wasp Natalie Haythornthwaite all vying for

selection, competition for the shooting positions is stiff.

Dunn missed out on selection for the Gold Medal-winning Commonwealth Games squad but has since returned to the fold and put herself in the shop window for selection.

Only just starting her senior netball career, 21-year-old Fran Williams is also hoping to get the call-up for her first World Cup.

The defensive star was given her Roses debut in the 2018 test series against Uganda and again featured in the Quad Series.

Williams is aware of the competition for spots in the squad but believes she has made the most of the opportunities presented to her.

“I’m realistic about my situation in terms of only having three senior caps, but I fitted well into

the team and made my mark.

“I just want to know that I’ve done everything I can to put myself in the best position for selection. It would make my year.”

*Originally published in the match-day programme v London Pulse on 31 March