Netball Australia’s national selection panel has included two debutants, Gabrielle Simpson (Queensland Firebirds) and Paige Hadley (NSW Swifts), in a reduced 17-player Australian Diamonds squad for the 2013 international Tests in September and October.
The selectors have opted to reduce the number of squad players from a traditional 22-player squad to 17 for this season.
“Our focus is on winning the gold medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and retaining our world championship title at the 2015 Netball World Cup in Sydney so we have narrowed our focus to work with a high quality squad,” Australian Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander said.
ANZ Championship Grand Finalists Adelaide Thunderbirds and Queensland Firebirds were rewarded for outstanding seasons with four players from each named in the squad.
Following the retirement of Diamonds captain Natalie von Bertouch on Wednesday, Kimberley Ravaillion, who retains her place in the squad, is joined by fellow midcourt rising stars Simpson and Hadley for the first time.
The 19-year-old Ravaillion made her international Test debut in January’s Tour of England before making her ANZ Championship debut with the Firebirds – going on to start at centre in last weekend’s trans-Tasman Grand Final.
While the rest of the squad members continue with transition training, the trio have been selected to represent Australia at next month’s World Youth Netball Championships in Scotland.
“Kim, Gabi and Paige all performed with a maturity well beyond their years and thoroughly deserve their selections after consistent performances this season against the world’s best netballers in the ANZ Championship,” Alexander said.
Ashleigh Brazill, Chanel Gomes, Karyn Howarth, April Letton, Chelsea Pitman and Susan Pratley have been omitted from the squad but Alexander stressed that the players are still in contention for the two marquee events.
“They’re going to be disappointed to be overlooked but I reinforce to them that this isn’t the end, they need to work on a few aspects of their games but I know they’ll be back hungrier than ever ahead of the Commonwealth Games and 2015 Netball World Cup,” Alexander said.
The Australian Diamonds squad will attend a selection camp at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra from July 31-August 3, where the team will be selected.
The Diamonds will contest a five-Test Constellation Cup series against New Zealand, starting September 15 in Invercargill, followed by a two-Test series against Malawi.
2013 Australian Diamonds Squad:
(ANZ Championship team/state of origin)
Caitlin BASSETT (West Coast Fever/WA)
Erin BELL (Adelaide Thunderbirds/NSW)
Madison BROWNE (Melbourne Vixens/VIC)
Rebecca BULLEY (Adelaide Thunderbirds/VIC)
Tegan CALDWELL (Melbourne Vixens/VIC)
Bianca CHATFIELD (Melbourne Vixens/VIC)
Julie CORLETTO (Northern Mystics/VIC)
Catherine COX (West Coast Fever/NSW)
Laura GEITZ (Queensland Firebirds/QLD)
Kim GREEN (NSW Swifts/ NSW)
Paige HADLEY (NSW Swifts/NSW)
Renae HALLINAN (Adelaide Thunderbirds/VIC)
Sharni LAYTON (Adelaide Thunderbirds/VIC)
Natalie MEDHURST (Queensland Firebirds/SA)
Kim RAVAILLION (Queensland Firebirds/NSW)
Gabrielle SIMPSON (Queensland Firebirds/NSW)
Caitlin THWAITES (Central Pulse/VIC)