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No pressure!

Veteran goalshooter Fowler says Sunshine Girls will not be distracted by World ranking

Sanjay Myers
Sport Reporter
@ The Netball World Cup
In Liverpool, England

Thursday, July 11, 2019

LIVERPOOL, England — Jamaica's captain Jhaniele Fowler insists that the recent climb to number two in the world rankings will not burden medal expectations heading into the 2019 Netball World Cup.

“We are not watching what everybody else is talking around us. We are making sure we are maintaining our calm and being humble, [though] we are very proud of ourselves for reaching where we are now,” the star goal shooter told journalists yesterday.

“We've just gone to number two, we put in a lot of hard work and we've continued that hard work, so [there is] no pressure going into it. We just need to maintain what we've been doing, and put it even a step above that.”

Their rise has not occurred overnight.

At the Commonwealth Games in April last year, the Sunshine Girls won bronze, and months later they swept a 3-0 home series win against an under-strength England side.

On tomorrow's opening day, the Sunshine Girls are scheduled to face Fiji. Encounters versus Trinidad and Tobago and South Africa follow on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, capping off stage one of the preliminaries.

The Jamaicans won the bronze medal in 2003 and 2007, but have never been to the gold medal match at the World Cup. They claimed the fourth spot in 2011 and 2015.

“I know it's going to be a lot of work. It's not going to be easy but I know we have the capability to come out on the podium for this trip. It's just to work towards that,” Fowler, 29, said after the team's first training session in Liverpool, since arriving from a pre-tournament camp in Manchester.

Reigning three-time champions Australia start the World Cup as favourites, but Fowler said all teams will be treated with respect.

“We have to beat every team, we have to come through both preliminary [stages] and win the semi-finals and win the final as well.

“Every team is a big threat at the moment. If we go out there and play Fiji and don't play at our best, Fiji can beat us. Every team is a threat…I'm not looking at England or New Zealand or Australia, I'm just looking at everybody,” she stressed.

The matches are slated for courts inside the Arena and Convention Centre (ACC) Liverpool, and the July 12-21 tournament promises to be a hectic one.

The current format, which comprises two preliminary stages before the play-offs, means teams could play every day over the 10 days of competition.

Fowler said psychological strength will be as important as anything else, while acknowledging that physical endurance has been a concern in the past.

“I feel that one of the major things is to be mentally fit, and we are mentally tough at the moment, [and] we know what we have to look forward to. We're putting it out on court to see how much we can assimilate going into 10 games.

“We have the management staff around as well, to help us to cope and to be ready for each game. The coaching staff has identified that [fatigue concern] and what we have done is to work on the ending of our games and making sure we are able to cross the line or to pull through and to finish off a game,” she explained.

The towering shooter, who plays professionally in Australia, accepts that a lot rests on her shoulders, but appears unperturbed by it.

“A lot is expected of me, but as I just always take it a game at a time, one day at a time and just do my best. I just have to do my best to support my teammates and the management staff.

“I'm very elated and I'm happy that I've been given this responsibility [to captain]. The girls have been helping me out a lot, so it hasn't been a hard task,” Fowler said