Medhurst eager to erase Invercargill memories

www.mbphoto.co.nzAustralian goal attack Natalie Medhurst said the Diamonds are focused on maintaining their dominance over arch rivals New Zealand when the four-Test Constellation Cup series gets underway this week.

The Diamonds have crossed the Tasman to prepare for the opening Test against the Silver Ferns at Invercargill on Thursday afternoon (AEST).

Medhurst said the Diamonds are keen to make amends for a disappointing performance in the corresponding match of the Constellation Cup series at Invercargill last year, when the Silver Ferns defeated Australia 55-51.

Coincidently, that was Australia’s last Test defeat. The Diamonds have won their past 13 Tests overall which includes a five-game winning streak against the Silver Ferns, their best run against New Zealand since 1998.

“After that game I remember (specialist assistant coach) Marg Caldow giving us a kick up the backside and that was certainly what the team needed to turn it around,” Medhurst said before the team departed Australia.

“We obviously finished that series off extremely well and didn’t lose from then on.

“So it’s really wanting to stamp some authority in that first Test match. It’s over there so they’re going to have a pretty passionate crowd behind them wanting to see their team perform well, particularly against us and we’re going to have to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

Australia is the current Constellation Cup holders, having convincingly won last year’s series 4-1, and Medhurst said the Diamonds know the Silver Ferns will be determined to end their winning run.

“They’re obviously going into this Test series with a few changes (from their Commonwealth Games team). Some are forced and some is giving other players an opportunity to step up and put their hands up for selection for next year’s (World Cup).

“Heading into our camp we focused really well on making sure we continue to do what we’ve done but try and step it up a notch and develop within our combinations and as a team.

“(This series is a chance to) really try and stamp some authority heading into next year’s Netball World Cup and get that psychological advantage.”

Medhurst was interested to see the Silver Ferns include her former Queensland Firebirds teammate Ameliaranne Wells in their squad for the Constellation Cup.

The 23-year-old Wells is switching ANZ Championship teams in 2015 to play for the Wellington-based Central Pulse.

“She hasn’t played a lot of ANZ Champs and this is a whole new step up from there,” Medhurst said.

“You’d think playing in the best competition in the world it doesn’t get any harder but it does when you get to international stage.

“I know what it was like when I first stepped into the Australian team. You just take everything in and you’re a bit of an unknown quantity so that might work in her advantage.

“She’ll probably be coming up against Geitzy (captain Laura Geitz) if she does get court time so I’m sure they’ve trained against each other a lot.

“For us it’s just about making sure we shut down each and every opponent. We respect all of them, irrespective of what they’ve done in the past. We’ve got to make sure we’re prepared for whoever they throw out against us.”

Constellation Cup Game 3 Australia Diamonds v New Zealand Silver FernsIt’s been almost two months since Australia won the Commonwealth Games gold medal and Medhurst is looking forward to reuniting with her teammates and getting back on court in the Diamonds upcoming Real Insurance Netball Test Series against the Silver Ferns and England.

“It’s funny how quickly your focus changes,” Medhurst said. “There was so much build-up and an eye on the Commonwealth Games over the last couple of years.

“Now that’s done and dusted and we’re already looking to 2015 (Netball World Cup) and this is the first step towards that. For us, this is a big international series; a great opportunity for us to be out on court with each other and continue to work on our combinations.”

She said the team can’t wait to say thanks to the fans that supported them during the Glasgow campaign.

“Playing in front of packed arenas everywhere in Australia is great and the support that we got over at the Commonwealth Games was incredible, from those who were there or watching back at home,” Medhurst said.

“I know that a lot of the girls were getting letters of support. So it’s great to be able to come home and play Test matches as a team in front of everyone – we’ll be missing Bianca (Chatfield) but I’m sure she’ll pop up somewhere – and thank the crowd in some way for their support in helping us get that gold medal.”

Tickets are still available to this year’s Real Insurance Netball Test Series in Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra. Click here for more information.