FAST5 Flyers putting polish on future Diamonds

www.mbphoto.co.nzAustralia’s FAST5 World Netball Series campaign may not have achieved the result the Flyers were after, but coach Jane Searle believes this year’s tournament will deliver future benefits to the Diamonds.

The Flyers finished runners up for the second consecutive year to New Zealand, losing a thrilling Grand Final 35-31 in front of a packed Vector Arena in Auckland after trailing by as much as 11 points mid-way through the last quarter.

Searle was proud of her team’s performances over the tournament and said there was plenty of positives to come out of the weekend, including the leadership of co-captains Erin Bell and Clare McMeniman and the continued development of some of Australia’s bright young talent.

“There’s a fine balance between risk and reward in the FAST5 format and getting that just right is crucial to your success,” Searle said.

“I think we have come a long way towards getting the balance right and making the right decisions in a game that effect that balance.”

The emergence of young defenders Kate Shimmin and Jo Weston as potential future international players was a highlight of the Flyers’ performances and would not surprise Searle if that duo one day formed a similar combination in the Diamonds.

www.mbphoto.co.nz“I was super impressed with both Kate and Jo, not just at the World Series, but also in the lead up and preparation to the tournament,” Searle said.

“Both are very professional in their approach and are so eager to learn and embrace new concepts. Kate’s athletic ability is amazing and, as she becomes more confident in her ability, I expect her to make a big impact outside the circle in the future.

“Her work in the circle – especially using her elevation in the ‘lift’ – is a game changer and her combination with Jo Weston is exciting.

“Both are tenacious and determined and we could well be witnessing a combination very comfortable in the green and gold in years to come.”

Ashleigh Brazill, who was on the cusp of Diamonds selection two years ago until being sidelined by injury, was another that Searle believes could come under consideration of national selectors.

“Ash is one of the best defensive players I have seen, it’s the reason we played her at goal attack in the opposition power plays – even though she has never shot a goal in her life,” Searle said.

“She is very quick to switch on to the different strategies we employed throughout FAST5 and, if she can have a solid injury free season in next year’s ANZ Championship for West Coast Fever, I’d back her in for a spot in the Diamonds.

“Ash’s enthusiasm and passion for life is infectious.”

While the FAST5 World Series won’t be played next year, Searle would love to see the tournament return to the international calendar in 2016 and continue for many years.

“There is definitely a place for Fast5 in the international calendar. Everyone has commented about how exciting it is for television and how much they enjoyed watching it,” Searle said.

“I think it breathes new life into our game and, while it will never replace our traditional game, there is a need to showcase our sport in a fast-paced, highly-skilled shortened version of the game that creates thinking, adaptable and athletic players who can make the right decisions about risk and rewards.

“These are exactly the type of players you want representing the Diamonds so it’s a wonderful opportunity to identify and develop Australia’s best talent. I thoroughly enjoy being a part of it.”

Photos: Courtesy of Michael Bradley