On paper it appears that the Australian Diamonds team is going through a rebuilding stage with not one 50-Test veteran in the squad heading into this year’s international series.
But there’s still plenty of experience in the line-up to help guide the team’s exciting young talent through what will be an intense Constellation Cup series against New Zealand.
New vice-captains Bianca Chatfield and Kimberlee Green are set to reach the 50-Test milestone when the Diamonds take to the court in Invercargill on September 15 for the opening match of the five-Test series against the Silver Ferns.
Goal attack Natalie Medhurst is scheduled to celebrate her 50-Test milestone when the series returns to Australia for game three in her former home town of Adelaide.
Australia will be without 252 games of experience following the retirement of former captain Natalie von Bertouch (76 Tests), the decision of Mo’onia Gerrard (68 Tests) to put her netball career on hold to chase her Olympic Rugby Seven dreams and the unavailability of Catherine Cox (108 Tests).
In contrast, the Silver Ferns squad has six players that have played more than 50 Tests.
But Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander is confident the squad she’s assembled is capable of handling the pressure of international netball.
“They’ve still got experience in terms of their knowledge and tactical understanding and maturity,” Alexander said.
“One of the advantages for us as netballers is that we play in the world’s best domestic competition, the ANZ Championship, so we’ve got the players that are up for this type of experience.”
New Zealand currently holds the Constellation Cup, which was first introduced back in 2010 for international matches between the two countries outside major tournaments such as the Commonwealth Games and World Netball Championships.
Alexander said the series was an important part of Australia’s preparations for next year’s Commonwealth Games in Scotland.
“I’m very confident this group will take us to that next level,” Alexander said.
“Overall we’ve got a nice balance between experienced heads, youth and enthusiasm. The main contribution to the whole group is their willingness to push to next level.
“It doesn’t matter what age they are, they all want to improve and get better as individuals and as a group.”