Success of 19/U Tour highlights bright future

Green1Australian 21/U coach Tania Obst had one eye on the present but another on the future during this week’s Trans-Tasman 19/U Tournament in New Zealand.

The Australian 19/U squad travelled to Rotorua to take part in the tournament for the first time against the New Zealand Secondary Schools and the Aotearoa Maori teams.

With the 2017 World Youth Netball Championships being played in Africa, Obst was keen to observe how the athletes in the squad handled their first taste of international experience – and was left impressed by the potential talent that could form the nucleus of her team in two years time.

Obst and Australian Diamonds assistant coach Michelle den Dekker took charge of the Australia Green and Australia Gold sides over the three-day tournament.

Australia Green took out the title from the NZSS with South Australian Hannah Petty being named the tournament’s best midcourter. Australia Gold finished third.

“The whole experience has been absolutely fantastic for these girls and, quite honestly, to come away winning the tournament was the icing on the cake,” Obst said.

“We were here to get experience into the girls about what it was like at international level and how to combat different playing styles. So very proud of their performances.”

Victorian shooter Emma Ryde finished the tournament the second highest goalscorer with 142 goals at 89 per cent accuracy.

Gold2Obst said Petty was a standout player over the three days and deserved her midcourt accolade.

“Hannah is an exceptional young talent,” Obst said. “She’s still only 18 and there is a lot of maturity in her game. Her next challenge is to build on her consistency.

“We had a really even team. Our keepers Annika (Lee-Jones) and Lucy (Armfield) did really well. They all had patches of really good play and they put it all together at the end.

“Emma Ryde shot very well and ably assisted by Sam (Gooden) and Kiera (Austin).”

Minor injuries to key players Jane Cook and Cara Koenen early in the week impacted the Gold team, but den Dekker was pleased with how the side dealt with those and were able to secure some convincing wins over their Green counterparts and the Maori team.

She was pleased that Cook and Koenen still had an impact on the scoreboard over the week.

“Every player had even court time so really pleased to be able to do that,” den Dekker, who also the Netball Australia Centre of Excellence head coach, said.

“In the gold team, we achieved our goal of starting athletes, having athletes come on under pressure and also give full games. “Emily Burgess had a really good tournament at wing defence.

“The girls took a while to adapt to the offline New Zealand style of defence. But beating Australia Green by 10 goals was a huge confidence boost and it was great to get the experience of competing in an international environment and different style of plays.”