Australian Diamonds captain Laura Geitz has paid tribute to her New Zealand counterpart Casey Kopua after the Silver Ferns leader suffered a serious knee injury in the third Test of the Constellation Cup series.
Kopua will miss the fourth and final Test in Auckland on Wednesday night after being stretchered off court in the final term of Australia’s 13-goal win at Sydney’s Allphones Arena on Saturday night.
The Silver Ferns have called young defender Kayla Cullen into the squad for Wednesday night’s match and the extent of Kopua’s injury will be known once she has a full medical assessment this week.
Geitz said it was “absolutely devastating” watching Kopua down and clutching her left knee.
“Every one of the Diamonds has the utmost respect for her,” Geitz said. “She’s nothing short of a champion in the way she conducts herself on and off the court.
“It’s devastating to see a player who wears her heart on her sleeve and gives absolutely everything in every game and who is the backbone of that Silver Ferns team to go down in such a horrible way.
“We wish her the best in her recovery.”
Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander echoed those sentiments as Australia wrapped up the Constellation Cup by taking a 3-0 lead in the series.
“At the same time it gives someone else an opportunity and they’ve got a really deep, strong back line.
“Temalisi Fakahokotau will probably get her opportunity (to make her international debut) and somebody else will come in.”
The Diamonds flew to Auckland on Sunday afternoon to prepare for the fourth Test at The Trusts Arena on Wednesday night.
Queensland Firebird defender Clare McMeniman has joined the squad for this Test and the two Tests of the Real Insurance Netball Test Series against England at Bendigo (19 October) and Canberra (22 October) replacing Rebecca Bulley.
Geitz is excited to welcome her good friend into the team and, potentially, making her Test debut over the next fortnight.
“It means the world to her. She’s dreamed of being a Diamond since she was young,” Geitz said of McMeniman’s inclusion for the next three Tests.
“She’s up with some of the hardest working people that I know and I know if she’s given an opportunity out on court she’ll prove exactly why she deserves a spot in this team.”
Alexander heard first-hand on Saturday night just how excited McMeniman is to be part of the Diamonds.
“I could hear her behind me on the bench coaching so that’s a good indication of where she’s at. She’s terribly excited about it,” Alexander laughed.
“She knows what’s required so there won’t be any question about her work ethic and determination. It will be just some fine tuning (but) she’s well-prepared.”
The fourth and final Test of the Constellation Cup in Auckland will be shown live on Fox Sports and SBS2 from 4.00pm (AEDT) on Wednesday 15 October.