Specialist training for emerging defenders

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Four of Australia’s promising young defenders have been given an opportunity to audition in front of national selectors at the Diamonds’ training camp this week. 

Adelaide Thunderbirds pair Kate Shimmin and Amy Steel, West Coast Fever recruit April Letton and Melbourne Vixens rising star Jo Weston have been invited to attend a Centre of Excellence defenders camp which is being held in conjunction with the Diamonds’ sessions.

The quartet will have specialist training sessions with Centre of Excellence head coach Michelle den Dekker and defence specialist coach Jane Searle.

They’ll then be part of match play sessions with the Diamonds’ squad. April Letton

Amy SteelSteel, left, and Letton, right, both have international experience while Shimmin and Weston (pictured in main image) were part of Australia’s 21/U World Youth Championship team in 2013.

Steel has played six Tests and Letton made her international debut on Australia’s 2013 UK Tour.

den Dekker said that the camp is designed to expose the athletes to the technical and tactical components required at the Diamonds’ level, and ensures that Australian netball is transitioning its future athletes seamlessly.

“They are knocking on the door and, with ANZ Championship coming up, the Diamonds selectors will be taking a close look at their performances and applications of their skills,” den Dekker said.

michelledd“It is competitive and that’s the benefit of being in the Diamonds’ squad. It’s a competitive culture.

“It’s specifically designed to look at future Diamonds beyond this year’s Netball World Cup. We’ve identified athletes that could play a key role across the next four-year performance cycle.”

Shimmin said it is a great opportunity to train alongside Australia’s best athletes in an intense environment.

“I’ve been working really hard on my goal defence game and it’s paying off. I’ve got a bit of a way to go but it’s really exciting,” Shimmin said.

“Just to see how they (Diamonds) train and the intensity level will definitely be a good experience and I can’t wait to get up there and start working hard.”

Weston, who played alongside Shimmin in Australia’s FAST5 team for the past two years, believes her game will only benefit from the more exposure she has at this level.

“It’s a real honor to be invited. I was lucky enough to be an invitee to the Diamonds’ training camp last January so it’s really encouraging to be invited again,” Weston said.

“I’m excited to work with a great group of defenders and it’s so good to come to camps like this and see where the bar is set.

“I’ve still got another year at 21s level so I’ll just focus on just trying my best and hopefully build partnerships with other girls coming in.”

Netball Australia’s Head of High Performance Andrew Collins said the camp would complement the work being done by the athletes at their ANZ Championship franchises.

“It’s not only about their skill development, it’s also about them understanding what it takes to be a Diamonds athlete and being part of that environment,” Collins said.

“This next group of athletes are all potential Diamonds and it’s important they understand the environment and what’s required; we want to expose them to that as much as we possibly can.”