By Milly McEvoy, Sportsbeat
Netballer Nat Panagarry has returned to the England set-up with a newfound respect for her sport and her coaches.
The 31-year-old has seen her past two seasons with club side Loughborough Lightning plagued by injuries.
But now she is fighting fit as the Vitality Roses prepare to take on Uganda in a three-match series beginning on October 5.
“I think everyone who has had an injury knows just how much mentally takes it out,” Panagarry said. “If you think physically, it affects your body, but mentally, we love playing, we love being on the court that's the best thing about it.
“So when that's taken away, it makes you realise how much you respect the sport and how much I love it.
“So last season was a little bit up and down with a calf niggle and I think it was really good for me to take a step back though, and just see the other girls step up and shine and realise how much depth we had in our squad.
“This year will be trying to take care of myself try and stay injury and stay on the court as much as possible.”
Panagarry has been part of the full-time England programme since its inception in 2016 and has been joined in this squad by three other Lightning players that reached the VNSL Grand Final this year.
Vitality Roses 🤝 Future Roses
Brilliant to have everyone training together as preparations for the upcoming international series continue 💪 pic.twitter.com/m0RTqQqDME
— England Netball (@EnglandNetball) September 21, 2022
The World Cup bronze medallist swapped her captain’s armband for her coach’s hat at last season’s British Fast5 Netball All-Stars Championship.
Loughborough Lightning were unable to defend their crown, but Panagarry took away plenty of valuable experience.
She added: “It was really exciting just to see how things work. As a player you just have your job, you come to training, you leave, you do all of your video analysis behind the scenes.
“But actually seeing the logistics of what the staff and the team have to do is really interesting.
“It’s brought a lot of respect to the coaches and the staff, just all the homework that does go behind it all and logistics of things.”
With five potential debutants among the squad selected by Jess Thirlby for the Uganda series, Panagarry’s six years of experience as captain for Lightning will be called upon.
🇺🇬 Vitality Netball International Series vs. Uganda
🇦🇺 Australia Series
🌍 Fast5 World Series
As @NetballWorldCup preparations step up, some new faces are set to take to the international stage for the Vitality Roses in the coming months 🌹
See who @JessThirlby has selected 👇
— England Netball (@EnglandNetball) September 20, 2022
It is a role Panagarry has had to relax into, but there will be no chance to draw breath against a battling Uganda side when the series kicks off in Nottingham.
“I think Uganda will bring what they did over the summer at the Commonwealth Games,” Panagarry said. “Those performances got better and better, they were really successful and beat South Africa, which they’ve not done in a very long time.
“They've got that flair, they’ve got that energy and I think they're starting to really see that composure now with them.
“We know a lot about Mary- [Cholhok] and Peace [Proscovia] and their shooting targets. But I think their defensive pressure, and their mid-court really stepped up over summer.
Tickets to see the Vitality Roses in action against Uganda are still available from the England Netball website