21/U coach excited to watch young stars emerge

2014 17/U and 19U National ChampionshipsAustralian 21/U coach Tania Obst is excited to see how her young charges handle the step up to international competition on their upcoming tour of New Zealand.

The team of 12 athletes was chosen during the week after an extensive three-day training camp at Netball Australia’s Centre of Excellence in Canberra.

The highlight of the tour will be the opportunity for the 21/U squad to take on Commonwealth Games gold medalists Australia and New Zealand in trial matches.

Obst said she was keen to see how her team handled – mentally, physically and tactically – taking on the likes of Laura Geitz, Caitlin Bassett, Renae Hallinan, Casey Kopua, Laura Langman and Maria Tutaia.

“We’re going out to pit ourselves against the best netballers in the worlds. That’s a fantastic opportunity for everybody,” Obst said.

21U squad camp2“It’ll also be a big reality check. Some of the girls would not have potentially played against any of that opposition and there’s some who have that ANZ Championship experience. But international netball is another step up again.

“As always, the final make-up of the team is always difficult. There are athletes who are unlucky not to make it. The 22 (squad members) presented in really good condition and their fitness tests had really good results.

“So it’s a strong team with an exciting mixture of all types of different experience.”

While 10 members of the team are on ANZ Championship lists for 2015, Obst is excited to watch how Queenslander Mahalia Cassidy handles the step up to international netball. Cassidy doesn’t turn 19 until after the tour is completed.

“She really stood out (at the selection camp) and demanded a position in this team, which is fantastic for her,” Obst said.

“She’s an exceptional athlete. She can run all game and does some special things that are difficult to teach.

“It will be a steep learning curve for her but I think she’ll be up for the challenge and she’ll thrive in this environment.”

South Australian pair Cody Lange and Madeline Proud’s positions in the touring party are subject to the duo being given the all clear fitness-wise next week.

21U squad camp3Obst said if either or both fail to come up, selectors have players on standby to take their place. She said a final decision on both would be made next Tuesday. Lange and Proud will be assessed by Centre of Excellence medical staff.

“Both girls want to be there and get that experience at this level. The opportunity to represent Australia doesn’t come around that often,” Obst said.

The team will fly out to New Zealand next Friday. They will play against the Diamonds on Tuesday 30 September and take on the Silver Ferns on Wednesday 1 October with the possibility of a third match being scheduled.

They will also attend the first Test of the Constellation Cup series between the two countries on Thursday 2 October. 

The Australian 21/U touring party is: Courtney Bruce (WA/West Coast Fever), Mahalia Cassidy (QLD) Beryl Friday (QLD/Queensland Firebirds), Sarah Klau (SA), Cody Lange* (SA/Adelaide Thunderbirds), Kate Moloney (VIC/Melbourne Vixens), Madeleine Proud* (SA/Adelaide Thunderbirds), Kaylia Stanton (WA/West Coast Fever), Gretel Tippett (QLD/Queensland Firebirds), Chloe Watson (VIC/Melbourne Vixens), Liz Watson (VIC/Melbourne Vixens), Joanna Weston (VIC/Melbourne Vixens).
(* – subject to fitness)