Having guided Australia to a silver medal at last year’s FAST5 Netball World Series, Searle and her assistant coach Jane Woodlands-Thompson believe they have brought together a squad capable of winning the tournament for the first time.
The shortened format of the game encourages and rewards long-range shooting and the Flyers will look to the experienced duo of Adelaide Thunderbirds star Erin Bell (23 Test caps) and West Coast Fever’s Kate Beveridge (16 Test caps) to spearhead their attack.
Bell is rated one of the best long-range shooters in world netball.
They’ll be supported by Melbourne Vixens premiership hero Karyn Bailey and emerging Queensland Firebirds goal attack Amorette Wild, who have also shown an ability in the ANZ Championship to score from mid-to-long range.
“We’ve brought in some specialist shooters because, looking at last year, that was the key. Those three-point shots can really make a difference in a team so we’re really looking at ways to address that,” Searle said.
“I don’t want to give too much away but we’re leaving no stone unturned to improve and going one step better, that’s what we’re after.
“I can’t wait for it. I think we’ve got a great team this year, I’m really rapt with the team we’ve got and we can’t wait to get over and get stuck into it.”
The FAST5 Netball World Series will be played in Auckland on the weekend of 8-9 November with the Flyers taking on New Zealand, South Africa, England, Malawi and Jamaica.
As part of their preparations, the team gathered in Melbourne over the weekend for a training camp where they also played a series of practice matches against the Victorian men’s side. Searle was pleased with how some of the newcomers to the format had quickly adapted.
“Each game (against the men’s state side) we’ve been improving and improving so it’s a great opportunity for us (to get used to the format) and the men are great competition for us as well.
“The FAST5 game has changed from what it used to be. It’s much faster and much more strategic and I’m relishing bringing different strategies into the game.”
The Flyers will again gather in Melbourne in a month’s time before flying out to Auckland on November 4 for the series. The leaders will be announced prior to their departure and Searle said there’s some worthy candidates among the group.
“We have got a pretty good idea who our leaders are in the group,” Searle said. “Even some of our younger players, who were in the team last year, are really keen to do well and have been really encouraging to the newer players as well.
“So we’re not discounting anything at the moment.”
The FAST5 Flyers team is: Karyn Bailey (Melbourne Vixens), Erin Bell (Adelaide Thunderbirds), Kate Beveridge (West Coast Fever), Ashleigh Brazill (West Coast Fever), Clare McMeniman (Queensland Firebirds), Kate Moloney (Melbourne Vixens), Kate Shimmin (Adelaide Thunderbirds), Gabi Simpson (Queensland Firebirds), Jo Weston (Melbourne Vixens), Amorette Wild (Queensland Firebirds).