NZ tour crucial to developing next generation

numiThe opportunity to play against the Australian Diamonds and New Zealand’s Silver Ferns highlights a week-long tour of New Zealand for Australia’s emerging young talent later this month.

An Australian 21/U side will travel to Invercargill between 26 September and October 3 where they will take on the Diamonds and Silver Ferns in practice matches ahead of the two countries’ opening match of the Constellation Cup in the South Island city on 2 October.

There’s also the possibility of a third match being scheduled.

The team of 12 will be chosen from a training camp being held at Netball Australia’s Centre of Excellence in Canberra between 14-16 September and 21/U coach Tania Obst said the tour will only benefit the athlete’s development.

“The opportunity to play against who are the No.1 and No.2 teams in the world is a fantastic opportunity for those emerging Diamonds in the 21/U group,” Obst said.

“They’ll be playing against athletes that, hopefully in the not too distant future they’ll be up against in Diamond selection camps.

2014 21/U National Championships  NSW v Queensland“The more exposure to international experience, travelling and match play, that we can give this group the better prepared they will be. It’s part of the game now and to be familiar with doing that will only help some of those athletes who go onto to represent the Diamonds.

“The opportunity to represent your country, you can’t overlook that. It’s the highest honor you can get.”

The squad contains 11 athletes that have contracts with ANZ Championship teams in 2015 and Obst said this tour would also help expose them further to the New Zealand style of play.

Obst, along with 21/U selectors Nicole Richardson and Australian Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander, will name her team following an intense three-day camp involving fitness testing, skills work and three match-play sessions.

“They’ve got to show that they’re good enough to represent their country,” Obst declared.

berylThe Australian 21/U squad is: Kelly Altmann (SA), Kristina Brice (NSW), Courtney Bruce (WA/West Coast Fever), Mahalia Cassidy (QLD) Beryl Friday (QLD/Queensland Firebirds), Sarah Klau (SA), Cody Lange (SA/Adelaide Thunderbirds), Chelsea Lemke (SA), Maggie Lind (Victoria) Madeline McAuliffe (QLD), Emily Mannix (VIC/Melbourne Vixens), Kristiana Manu’a (NSW), Kate Moloney (VIC/Melbourne Vixens), Madeleine Proud (SA/Adelaide Thunderbirds), Kaylia Stanton (WA/West Coast Fever), Gretel Tippett (QLD/Queensland Firebirds), Numi Tupaea (WA), Maddy Turner (SA), Georgie Virgo (SA/Adelaide Thunderbirds), Chloe Watson (VIC/Melbourne Vixens), Liz Watson (VIC/Melbourne Vixens), Joanna Weston (VIC/Melbourne Vixens).