It was the moment that Clare McMeniman had waited her whole netball career to arrive.
The Queenslander was told by Australian Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander at half-time to get ready for her international debut in Wednesday night’s Real Insurance Netball Test Series encounter against England in Canberra.
Having sat on the bench for the previous two Tests, McMeniman replaced Julie Corletto at goal defence for the second half of the Diamonds’ final Test of 2014 and became the 163rd player to represent her country when she finally stepped out on court in the green and gold.
The 29-year-old played a pivotal role as Australia defeated England by seven goals to complete its 2014 international campaign undefeated and also extend the current winning streak to 19 Tests.
When she was formally presented with her Australian dress in Auckland just over a week ago, McMeniman said that was an emotional moment. But when she was called into action by Alexander on Wednesday night, she knew what she had to do.
“That was a personal goal that I’ve set myself. I want to be a good bench player and I want to be able to inject myself onto the court in this team.
“I felt composed on the inside. I’ve been preparing for this for a long time and I feel like I fit into this group. I’ve been working with these girls in and out of squads and in and out of different ANZ Championship teams for a while so it didn’t feel too foreign.
“But I did need a bit of rocket at the start to be myself and make sure I was doing my role and playing my game.
“I savored all 30 minutes (of court time). It was great.”
McMeniman then turned to Alexander and asked: “Hopefully I did an okay job?”
Opposed to England’s goal attacks Rachel Dunn and Kadeen Corbin, McMeniman said she was able to adjust to the step up in intensity.
“That’s the way I like it. I like a fast game and a moving player so it suited my game,” McMeniman said.
“I don’t mind if it’s fast and furious. Just to get out there (is great).”
Injured Australian captain Laura Geitz, McMeniman’s long-time friend and Queensland Firebirds teammate, flew down from Brisbane to Canberra for the match and was quick to embrace her after the match.
“It was great to have her (Geitz) sitting in the crowd cheering me on and it was special that I could share the moment with her – and a lot of other girls who have been part of my netball career,” McMeniman said.