Diamonds braced for fired up Ferns in series opener

Australia is bracing to face a “fired-up” New Zealand line-up when the 2015 Constellation Cup series gets underway in Christchurch tonight claims Diamonds captain Laura Geitz.

In what’s set to be an emotion-charged four-Test series for the Silver Ferns, with coach Wai Taumaunu stepping down at its conclusion, Geitz said the Diamonds expect their arch rivals to come out firing from the opening whistle.

“I expect the Silver Ferns are going to come out and have absolute crack at us in the first quarter,” Geitz said.

“It’s going to be an intensive match, it’s going to be fast. I don’t know what to expect exactly – just like they’re the same with us – but that’s what makes it exciting.

“They’ll want to get off to a good start but we just need to bring that intensity and also make sure we convert all of our opportunities and not have that ping-pong game going backwards and forwards.

“You’ve got the number one two teams in the world going head-to-head and it’s always a great contest and that’s what tonight will be as well.”

History suggests the country that wins the opening match eventually goes onto win the Constellation Cup series.

The only occasion that didn’t happen was in 2013, when New Zealand won the opening Test at Invercargill but the Diamonds bounced back to win the series.

That 2013 game was the last Constellation Cup Test the Silver Ferns won. The Diamonds have triumphed in the past eight and won 10 of the last 11 matches played overall between the two countries, including the 2014 Commonwealth Games Gold Medal match and the final of the Netball World Cup SYDNEY 2015.

The second Test will be played in Auckland on Thursday night before the series returns to Australia with matches in Melbourne (25 October) and Perth (30 October).

_MCA0026Li“Really important to win these two games over here,” Geitz declared.

“We’d love to be heading to Australia (leading) two-zip. We’ve got a team capable of doing that but, if we want that (result), we need to be producing fantastic netball beginning with tonight’s match.”

Youngsters Gabi Simpson and Gretel Tippett are poised to make their Diamonds’ debut tonight and Geitz said their excitement has rubbed off on the rest of the group.

“It’s their first time in the national team, it’s something they’ve dreamed of for so long,” Geitz said.

“Some have worked particularly hard and been on the fringe and just missed out. So this is so sweet for them to get this opportunity and they’re going to grab it with both hands and make most of it,” Geitz said.

“To that excitement reminds you of when you were in that position. It filters through everyone and I’m keen to get out on court with all the girls.”

Tonight’s match will be broadcast live on FOX SPORTS 1 from 5.30pm (AEDT) and via the Netball Live app.