EXCLUSIVE: Netballer Jade Clarke previews England vs. Jamaica
England Netball face Jamaica in the first of their three-match Vitality Netball International Series at a sold-out Copper Box Arena on Tuesday 29th November.
Sports Gazette spoke exclusively to England’s most-capped player, Jade Clarke, who revealed that she doesn’t get nervous and instead thrives off a lively atmosphere.
She said: "I think we’re all show-offs at heart when you do an elite sport so the bigger the crowd, the better.
"I just love that home crowd and when we score, hearing them really cheer. It’s really like having that eighth player with you so I really appreciate it."
England boss Tracey Neville has been putting her side through their paces for the past week at the Olympic Park and Clarke admits she can’t wait to take to the court.
She said: "It’s been going really well. It’s nice to be as the 14 and training all together – we’ve a good mix of experience and youth.
"It feels like we’ve been training really hard for a long time so now’s the time we can freshen up and really enjoy that first game."
History was made in June 2016, when England Netball began their first ever full-time training programme at Loughborough University.
And Clarke believes that now the side are getting increased time to train together, they’re continuing to improve and develop.
However, she acknowledges that Jamaica will provide tough opposition and the Roses will have to be at the top of their game.
She said: "Well we definitely want to win the series. Last time we played Jamaica it was at the World Cup so we’ve got a point to prove – we’re third in the world and they’re fourth so we want to make sure that we’re staying above them in the rankings.
"They’re very skilful, very athletic, obviously got that real height in the front end in the goal shooter but in defence they’re also really rangy and physical.
"We’ve played Australia and New Zealand this year but it’s going to be a different style again so we’re going to need to adapt really quickly."I think our biggest strength though is the diversity we have. ”
"We’ve got people like Stacey Francis, who’ll go out and hunt those balls, Jo with her flair and everyone brings something different so Tracey’s job is to try and make that all work together."
Every player prepares and psyches themselves up differently before stepping out onto the court – and Clarke is no different.
She said: "I like to wear new socks so it’s getting a bit of an expensive habit now! I usually go to a supermarket to buy them.
"And then in the changing room, I’m a bit of a watcher. I just like to take it all in and let everyone dance and sing around me and I enjoy that."
The match is available to watch on Sky Sports Mix and @SportsGazette will also be reporting live from the Copper Box.