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CARDIFF, WALES - MARCH 25: during the Vitality Netball Superleague match between Celtic Dragons and London Pulse at the Sport Wales National Centre on March 25, 2019 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images for England Netball)

All ten Vitality Netball Superleague sides are being represented at the Vitality Netball World Cup in Liverpool this July. When Jamaica face Fiji at the M&S Bank Arena, Liverpool, on the opening day, three players who were involved in the 2019 VNSL season will hope to star.

The Lowdown

This opening day encounter represents the start of the tournament for both sides and each will be looking for a fast start. Jamaica will be the favourites courtesy of their INF World Ranking of second compared to Fiji’s position of 17th.

The Sunshine Girls will provide a tough test for Vicki Wilson’s side due to their world-class squad. They have appeared at every World Cup since its inception in 1963 and have won bronze three times. As one of the top five teams in the world, they automatically qualified for the competition.

Fiji, meanwhile, have qualified for the last five editions of World Cup but this will be their first in England. Their greatest finish was sixth in 1999 and they managed to finish seventh at the 2002 Commonwealth Games. They are not unfamiliar to tangible success, however, winning at the South Pacific Games every year since 1995.

VNSL Players Involved

  • Stacian Facey (Jamaica Sunshine Girls & Celtic Dragons)

Celtic Dragons goal keeper Stacian Facey, 25, has been selected to appear at the 2019 World Cup by Marvette Anderson after a hugely successful period in her career, winning silver at Fast5 and bronze in the Commonwealth Games last year. Facey finished in the top ten for Vitality Netball Superleague interceptions last season with 27, justifying her World Cup inclusion.

  • Jodi-Ann Ward (Jamaica Sunshine Girls & Severn Stars)

Making her World Cup debut in Liverpool, Jodi-Ann Ward has enjoyed a stellar season for Severn Stars. Ward, who can play as wing defence and goal defence, was instrumental for Stars as they qualified for the British Fast5 Netball All-Stars Championship. The 24-year-old was also among the top ten for Superleague interceptions last term with an impressive 29.

  • Dee Bolakoro (Fiji Pearls & Celtic Dragons)

Despite Fiji’s consistent presence at the World Cup, this will be Dee Bolakoro’s first taste of the competition. The 34-year-old goal defence, who can also play at wing defence, helped Celtic Dragons reach their highest Vitality Netball Superleague finish in recent years.

Head-to-Head

These two nations crossed paths twice of late with Jamaica coming out on top on both occasions. On route to Taini Jamison Trophy glory last March, the Sunshine Girls secured an 83-38 victory before the Jamaicans again dispatched of their Oceanic counterparts 88-30 at the Commonwealth Games a few weeks later.

Fiji and Jamaica have met six times in netball’s pinnacle event with the Sunshine Girls triumphing on each occasion.

When Jodi-Ann Ward’s Severn Stars took on the Celtic Dragons in the Vitality Netball Superleague last season, the Jamacian came out on top both times. Fiji international Dee Bolakoro and fellow Jamacian Stacian Facey were in Dragons’ starting seven in January to witness a formidable Ward performance as Stars triumphed 57-40.

Facey, Ward and Bolakoro all started the reverse fixture in Wales which was won by just one goal. Stars saw out a close 53-52 victory in March to do the double over their opposition, with Ward again victorious.

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