When she was in primary school, Paige Hadley set herself a goal of one day being out on court wearing the green and gold Australian uniform.
That dream came true for Hadley when she made her Test debut for the Australian Diamonds in their 84-39 Coles Netball Test Series victory over Malawi in Wollongong on Wednesday night.
The 21 year-old was introduced into the game for the second half, replacing vice-captain Kimberlee Green at wing attack and finished the match with a credible 15 goal assists and combined well with shooters Caitlin Thwaites and Natalie Medhurst.
Hadley said her pre-game nerves were quickly eased once the game got underway.
“It was so exciting and so overwhelming, I think I was running on adrenalin for the 30 minutes but it was so exciting,” Hadley said.
“I don’t think I remember much of it, because I don’t even remember what I was doing but I’ll look back at it and I think I’ll be happy with it.
“In primary school we had to write down our goal in life and mine was to play for Australia for netball.
“One of my friends brought it up before I debuted, so that was pretty special to have a goal when I was in primary school and I didn’t even realise I wrote it down. Now in front of my family and friends, Nan’s come down, everyone’s here so it’s definitely a dream come true.”
Hadley became the 161st player to represent Australia and she hopes she can add to her Test caps tally.
Hadley’s Test debut caps off her breakout year which included her first full ANZ Championship season with the NSW Swifts, selection in the Australian World Youth Cup team and then called up to the Diamonds.
“I kind of don’t want it to end because it’s just been getting better and better, how does it get better from here?” she said.
“Back to the drawing board for the next season and there’s a few things coming up next season, but I’ll just take it in my stride and I guess after this next game, I’ll sit back look back and just can’t believe how much has happened and how good it’s been.”
Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander was pleased to see Hadley make a smooth transition into their line-up.
“It was funny, the training session we had (on Tuesday) she did everything that we talked about and that’s a coach’s dream really that you implement exactly what we’ve talked about,” Alexander said.
“Her feeding was just phenomenal and her connection with Caitlin Thwaites was very, very good.”
Hadley is happy to keep learning from Australia’s best players about how she can improve her game.
“Definitely, whatever what bib Lisa gives me and whatever position I’m playing I’m happy to do that, whatever the team needs,” she said.
Thwaites, who made her home Test debut against the Silver Ferns in Canberra last Sunday, shot 41 goals at 98 per cent accuracy after replacing Bassett at goal shooter for the second half.
Alexander said it’s good to see the 27-year-old making the most of her opportunities.
“She (Thwaites) is (a quality player), but we all know that it’s a different level of competition against Malawi – they are fifth in the world (and) they’re not the Silver Ferns,” Alexander said.
“Caitlin knows she’s got a bit of a way to go, but certainly that was a great confidence boaster for her, I think what she did really well tonight was hold strong.
“I think Caitlin pulled the ball in very strongly and just turned and shot, which was fantastic.”
The Diamonds and Queens now head to the Gold Coast for Saturday night’s last international outing ahead of next year’s Commonwealth Games.
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