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25 September 2021, 06:34 | Updated: 25 September 2021, 10:22
The Vitality Roses' Test series against the Australian Diamonds has been cancelled due to the evolving coronavirus restrictions in Australia.
Jess Thirlby's outfit, who are currently in New Zealand following their series victory against the Silver Ferns, were due to travel to Australia to compete in a further three fixtures in October.
However, despite huge efforts behind the scenes by Netball Australia and England Netball to navigate the evolving coronavirus restrictions in Australia, the Vitality Roses will instead return home from New Zealand in the coming days.
Since departing from England for the New Zealand leg of the tour, border restrictions have changed in Australia with an extended length of quarantine being introduced. This would significantly limit opportunities to train and prepare for international competition, and the stricter conditions that are now in place would compromise player welfare.
"The athletes, performance team and everyone at England Netball are extremely disappointed that this series is not able to go ahead," David Parsons, performance director at England Netball, said.
"Everyone had been so excited about the opportunity to take on the Diamonds and demonstrate the progress that we've been making as a team.
"We want to thank Netball Australia for their tremendous partnership in trying to make the tour possible.
"Despite tireless efforts from both parties, the impact that the travel restrictions currently in place between Australia and New Zealand had on quarantine and team preparation means that sadly it isn't possible to continue on to Australia as planned.
"Navigating elite sport and international competition is challenging during these times and it has been a significant achievement to travel to New Zealand and complete the series against the Silver Ferns.
"To get to this stage of the tour and not be able to complete the Australian leg is very saddening, but I am very proud of Jess Thirlby, the Vitality Roses, and the team behind the team, for their patience, resilience and understanding during this time.
"I want to also acknowledge our disappointment in not being able to unite our Roses players in New Zealand with our Roses players in Australia who have been waiting to join the team on our arrival into the country.
"We will now look ahead to reuniting those players back home and preparing as one playing group for the series against Jamaica on home soil in November and December as we continue our journey to Birmingham 2022.
"I would also like to thank the fans for their support during our time in New Zealand and hope they are excited about the matches we have played against the Silver Ferns and the historic series victory we achieved."
(c) Sky Sports 2021: England Vitality Roses' tour to Australia cancelled due to coronavirus restrictions