Fast5 shine provides glimpse into Diamonds future

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Australian Fast5 Flyers coach Jane Searle believes it’s only a matter of time before her young players make an impact on the international stage following a successful Fast5 Netball World Series campaign.

Despite fielding one of the most inexperienced team at the tournament, which included only three players with prior international Test experience and five 21/U players backing up from August’s World Youth Netball Championships, the Flyers claimed the silver medal – Australia’s best finish.

The Australians contested the three-day tournament against near full strength sides from New Zealand, England, Jamaica, South Africa and Malawi, going down to the vastly more experienced Fast5 Ferns in the final.

Searle said that with a bit more experience, her players would be pushing for selection.

“They’ve certainly got the potential but they’re quite young still,” Searle said.

“The Fast5 tournament highlights the players’ court smarts and that’s probably an area that we need to improve, which is just experience, but they’ve got it ahead of them, they’re certainly great athletes.

“They just need that experience but when they do, they’ll be pushing for selection in the Australian Diamonds, they’re almost there; representing Australia the way that they did certainly put them in good stead to go further.”

Searle believes the five-a-side tournament, which features modified netball rules, has provided her young players with a really important development opportunity.

Former underage international basketball turned netballer Gretel Tippett showed promise in the goal circle, Paige Hadley and Gabi Simpson marshalled the midcourt while Jo Weston and Courtney Bruce stood up in defence.

“For a young team to come up against that pressure and perform as well as we did is really amazing for them,” Searle said.

“You put it all together and they did an outstanding job as a young team and I think the future is pretty bright for them.”

While the tournament highlighted Australia’s up and coming talent, Searle suggested the performance of 53-Test veteran Susan Pratley has put her firmly in the sights of selectors ahead of next year’s Commonwealth Games.

“She was a great leader and to sink the goals that she did showed great courage and confidence in her ability, she’s certainly got the ability to represent the Diamonds next year,” Searle said.

“She showed that she’s got poise under pressure and was a great asset for us.”

Given time, this year’s Fast5 silver medal can turn into Commonwealth Games gold for those who dare to dream.

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