Diamonds name squad for Constellation Cup

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The Australian Diamonds have named an extended 15-player squad, including four debutants, for October’s four-Test Constellation Cup series against the New Zealand Silver Ferns, beginning on Tuesday 20 October in Christchurch.

Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander and national selectors have opted for an extended squad, which includes nine players returning from Australia’s triumphant Netball World Cup campaign in August.

Following the retirements of defenders Julie Corletto and Rebecca Bulley, and the international retirement of vice-captain Kim Green, Alexander has named the uncapped Gretel Tippett (Firebirds), Ashleigh Brazill (Fever), Gabi Simpson (Firebirds) and Joanna Weston (Vixens).

Along with the quartet, defenders Clare McMeniman and April Letton have earnt recalls to the green and gold, joining world champions Laura Geitz (captain), Caitlin Bassett, Erin Bell, Paige Hadley, Renae Ingles (nee Hallinan), Sharni Layton, Natalie Medhurst, Kim Ravaillion and Caitlin Thwaites.

“We’re thrilled that all nine Netball World Cup players made themselves available for Constellation Cup selection,” Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander said.

“The Constellation Cup not only gives us the chance to write the next chapter in our storied rivalry with the Silver Ferns but the opportunity to reward those previously on the cusp of selection and working hard in our squad.”

West Coast Fever captain Brazill may finally get her opportunity to pull on the green and gold, three years after a knee injury prevented the midcourter from making her international debut with the Diamonds.

Young guns Tippett and Simpson have been rewarded with maiden Diamonds selections for breakout seasons with ANZ Championship premiers Queensland Firebirds while Weston continued to stake her claim as a future Diamonds defender.

“Such is the depth in Australian netball, the new inclusions were unlucky to miss out on Diamonds selection for the Netball World Cup but we’re excited to be able to further develop our squad and team to begin the new cycle and defend our Commonwealth Games and Netball World Cup gold medals,” Alexander said.

The Constellation Cup series will be the first time that the Diamonds have taken the court since defeating the Silver Ferns by three goals to win a third consecutive Netball World Cup title at Allphones Arena in August.

Alexander will name the 12-player Diamonds teams ahead of the Christchurch (October 20), Auckland (October 22), Melbourne (October 25) and Perth (October 30) Tests.

Along with Weston, Kristiana Manu’a and Liz Watson have been elevated into the extended 2015-16 Diamonds squad and are available for future international selection, including the Tour of England in January.

Limited tickets are still available for the Melbourne and Perth Tests from Ticketek. Purchase online at www.ticketek.com.au, phone 132 849 or any Ticketek outlet.

Australian Diamonds for 2015 Constellation Cup:
NAME (state of origin/ANZ Championship team)

Caitlin Bassett (WA/West Coast Fever)
Ashleigh Brazill (NSW/West Coast Fever)
Erin Bell (NSW/Adelaide Thunderbirds)
Laura Geitz (QLD/Queensland Firebirds)
Paige Hadley (NSW/NSW Swifts)
Renae Ingles (nee Hallinan) (VIC/Adelaide Thunderbirds)
Sharni Layton (VIC/NSW Swifts)
April Letton (NSW/West Coast Fever)
Clare McMeniman (QLD/Queensland Firebirds)
Natalie Medhurst (SA/West Coast Fever)
Kim Ravaillion (NSW/Queensland Firebirds)
Gabi Simpson (NSW/Queensland Firebirds)
Caitlin Thwaites (VIC/NSW Swifts)
Gretel Tippett (QLD/Queensland Firebirds)
Joanna Weston (VIC/Melbourne Vixens)