Golden redemption begins for Australia’s netballers

GameOn_Feature_01The Australian Netball Team will begin its journey towards Commonwealth Games redemption on Thursday against Wales in Glasgow.

The Australians have been waiting 1380 days to put the devastation of Delhi behind them after losing the gold medal final 66-64 in double extra-time to New Zealand on the final day of competition in India.

The world number one ranked side will begin its Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games campaign against the eighth ranked Welsh at the Scottish Exhibition and Convention Centre (SECC) – a side coach Lisa Alexander is refusing to take lightly.

“I’m expecting Wales to be hard at (the ball) and stick with us physically for the game,” Alexander said.

“They will be very keen to show that they’re competitive against the top ranked side and we’ll need to be on our best game to play to the standard that we believe we’re capable of playing.

“This game gives us a great opportunity to have a really good start to the tournament and set ourselves up for the remainder of the competition but first we’ll be looking at performances on Thursday.”

Only four members of the team that won silver in 2010 remain with captain Laura Geitz, Kimberlee Green, Renae Hallinan and Natalie Medhurst to line up in Glasgow, alongside Bianca Chatfield, who returns eight years after her maiden Games in Melbourne.

In total, seven players will be making their Commonwealth Games debuts in Glasgow over the next ten days, including the uncapped Tegan Caldwell, who is hoping to join an exclusive group.

Caldwell is set to become just the third Australian player to record their first international Test appearance at a Commonwealth Games, following Susan Pratley and Susan Fuhrmann against Wales at Melbourne 2006.

Alexander said she was yet to settle on her starting seven for the opening game but would try to give everyone a run as she looks to find the winning formula.

“Being the first game of the tournament we will have combinations in mind, looking at those who have performed well at training and looking ahead in the tournament,” Alexander said.

“It’s all about being able to exploit our depth as much as we can and using all our available athletes to our best.

“It’s likely that we’ll try and give everyone a run during the game but to be named in the starting seven remains a very special part of the Australian team so the players will have to earn their positions.

“That (starting) seven that goes out has a job to do.”

The Australian Netball Team kick off their Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games campaign against Wales on Thursday 24 July at 1.30pm (10.30pm AEST). Catch all the action on Network Ten or on ABC Grandstand.

Follow the Australian Netball Team during the Commonwealth Games online on Facebook at www.facebook.com/aussiediamonds or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/aussiediamonds