Netball: England netballer opts out for study

Hours after being named in the England squad to play the Silver Ferns in New Zealand next month, rising netball star Pamela Cookey has had to withdraw due to academic commitments.

Cookey, forced to withdraw from last year's England Commonwealth Games team with a knee injury, requires high grades to study at Warwick University next year and has been unable to combine the "A" level exams she will sit over the next three weeks with the international test series.

Cookey was disconsolate.

"I am so disappointed that I cannot make this tour to New Zealand. Representing your country is just the highest honour possible," she said.

"But I just have too many academic commitments over the next three weeks and having looked at the schedule there just isn't a way to combine them."

England arrive in Auckland on Saturday morning but depart immediately for Samoa, where they will play Rita Fatialofa's Samoan side.

Coached by former Silver Fern Lynn Gunson with Waimarama Taumaunu as her assistant, England then return to New Zealand next Thursday for a three-test series against the Silver Ferns starting in Christchurch on June 9.

Manchester goal shooter Karen Greig, originally named as a non-travelling reserve, has been called into the squad.

"The past 24 hours have been an emotional rollercoaster for me," Greig said.

"I have been through every emotion possible. It's a real shame for Pamela but now I have an opportunity and I will take this chance to prove myself to the selectors."

Taumaunu, who is also England's national performance director, said Greig had the chance to force her way into the team to compete at the July world championships in Jamaica.

England squad: Amanda Newton (captain), Alex Astle, Abby Teare, Janet Coulburne, Jade Clarke, Tracey Neville, Karen Aspinall, Naomi Siddall, Sonia Mkoloma, Karen Greig, Natalie Seaton, Geva Mentor.

- NZPA

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