Not only because it’s a showdown between the gold and bronze medalists from last year’s Netball World Cup in Sydney.
But the three-Test series will be the first major matches played under the new rules introduced by the International Netball Federation which were voted on by Congress last year and officially introduced on January 1.
The rule changes include the elimination of whistles following goals and obvious ball out of court, amendments to injury time and changes to the out of play rule.
The Diamonds will be well prepared to begin playing under the new rules – the squad will even be tested by coach Lisa Alexander in the lead-up to the opening Test in Liverpool on January 21 (AEDT).
“When I was playing state netball we actually had to sit our umpires paper and we had to pass, over 90 per cent, in order to go and play at the nationals,” Alexander said.
“I have a great belief that you need to know the rules inside out as a player.”
The Diamonds will also meet with the three umpires – New Zealand pair Jono Bredin and Liz Boone and Jamaican Chris Campbell – prior to the series and get formally briefed on the rules and allow the athletes to ask questions.
“We’ll certainly be doing everything as we can to make it go as smoothly as possible,” Alexander said.
“It is the first test of the new rules so we understand our responsibilities to the sport. Not just from point of view that it’s an International Test, but to the sport itself because we know lots of people will be watching and interested to see how the new rules apply.”
Acting captain Clare McMeniman said the athletes and umpires would work together to ensure the new changes were implemented without little fuss.
“There’s a few new rules that will definitely have an impact on the way that our game is played and the speed of play,” McMeniman said.
“Like anything there’s going to be some teething problems for players and umpires, but we need to have patience with those situations.”