Centre of Excellence side named for Tassie series

2015 ANZ ChampionshipAustralian Conference FinalQueensland Firebirds v NSW SwiftsNetball Australia has announced the 12 athletes chosen in the Netball Centre of Excellence touring party to play a series of warm-up matches against Scotland and Wales in the lead-up to August’s Netball World Cup SYDNEY 2015.

The series, also featuring Australian Netball League side Tassie Spirit, will be played in Hobart and Launceston between 30 July and 2 August.

NSW Swifts midcourter Taylah Davies, pictured right, will captain the team with Melbourne Vixens defender Emily Mannix her deputy.

The team also includes South Australian Maddy Turner, who was named the San Remo Most Valuable Player at this year’s 21/U national championship, contracted Queensland Firebird Beryl Friday and prolific New South Wales goal shooter and 2014 joint ANL MVP winner Kristina Brice.

2015 21U National Championships 1 v 2 Grand Final South Australia v VictoriaVictoria’s Nicole Richardson, who was a Centre of Excellence specialist coach in 2014, will be in charge of the team.

Richardson, who played 32 Tests for Australia between 1999 and 2003, said the experience of taking on two of the world’s top 10 nations a week before their Netball World Cup campaigns begins would be a fantastic experience for these emerging athletes.

“The depth of talent in this age group is exceptional and it’s a wonderful opportunity to be exposed to a high standard of international competition,” Richardson, pictured above, said.

“It will be a totally new experience for a lot of these athletes. The group has only got a very short time frame to gel then you throw in the extra challenges of travel, being away from home, that’s going to add another dimension.

“It’s a step up from representing your state.”

Richardson is one of an elite group of athletes that’s represented Australia at pinnacle events in different sports.

A member of Australia’s 2002 Commonwealth Games gold medal winning side and the 2003 world championship silver medal line-up, Richardson also won a bronze medal at the 1996 Olympic with the Australian women’s softball team.

2015 21U National ChampionshipsAustralian Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander said Richardson, who was an Australian 21/U selector last year, brings a wealth of playing and coaching experience to the position which the selected athletes can tap into for their own progression.

“Nicole has worked her way diligently through our coaching pathway and so this opportunity is a terrific boost for her coaching career,” Alexander said.

“Working collaboratively alongside Cathy Fellows and Christine Voge, I’m sure that great outcomes will be achieved with this team.”

The CoE touring party: Taylah Davies (NSW/NSW Swifts, captain), Emily Mannix (VIC/Melbourne Vixens, vice-captain), Toni Anderson (NSW), Kiera Austin (NSW), Kristina Brice (NSW), Emily Burgess (South Australia), Beryl Friday (QLD/Queensland Firebirds), Hulita Haukinima (QLD), Annika Lee-Jones (WA), Numi Tupaea (WA), Maddy Turner (SA), Georgie Virgo (SA).

Pictures courtesy of David Callow and Joosep Martinson