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Women’s Netball England benefit from sharing hotel with Australia’s men’s rugby squad

ENGLAND’S netball team have discovered 14 days’ isolation in a New Zealand hotel is not so bad when the Australian rugby union side have been using the same facility.

The Wallabies were ending their quarantine ahead of matches against the All Blacks just as the England squad arrived.

It meant the gym was already set up for professional athletes and, even after the Aussies’ departure, the hotel continued to provide rugby-sized room service meals.

“I thought it was going to be a lot worse than it is, but I’m not bored or lonely yet as we are able to go out for socially distanced walks with masks on around the premises,” newly named vice-captain Fran Williams said ahead of their three-match series.

“We have bikes in our rooms, so that is keeping us fit, and now we’ve passed our first round of Covid testing — we have three in the 14-day period — it allows us to do more training in two separate bubbles.

“I thought it would feel a lot more different than what it does from a normal tour.

“I guess what’s different is a lot of our meetings are online rather than in a team room together.”

The presence of the Wallabies was fleeting but their presence is still being felt.

“There were one or two nights where we overlapped, but the hotel is really well controlled so you don’t really see other guests — we were coming off a bus when we got here and they were going to training,” added Williams.

“It has been quite good because the gym has been set up for having sports teams and I think they haven’t rationed down our food portions since they left, so they keep coming with these mountains of food in the morning!”

England play on October 28 and 30 and November 1 in the absence of coach Jess Thirlby, who tested positive for Covid before the squad’s departure.

She will continue to coach online from home, but Williams said players have to assume more responsibility as they play their first netball since March.

“Everyone is pulling their weight in making sure things run smoothly, supporting Jess while Jess is supporting us,” she said.

“So far it has not been an issue at all — if anything it has raised our game as we are learning more and having to be more adaptable.”

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