Diamonds embracing external expectations

They’re carrying the weight of expectations on their shoulders, but Australian Diamonds star Natalie Medhurst said the team is embracing that as it prepares to start its Netball World Cup SYDNEY 2015 campaign.

The defending champions are aiming to win their third consecutive world title and take on Trinidad & Tobago in their opening match at Allphones Arena on Friday night at 9.05pm (AEST).

The last time the Netball World Cup was played in Sydney in 1991 Australia triumphed and Medhurst said the current team knows there’s pressure on them to emulate that feat.

“The way we’ve been performing over last the 12 months there’s huge expectations on us as a team,” Medhurst said.

“But we embrace that and that’s something we’ve worked hard for, to put ourselves in that position.

“We can expect a very different brand of netball from Trinidad & Tobago and for us we want to work on our combinations and set the groundwork for where we want to be playing at the end of the 10 days.”

The 31-year-old Medhurst has been part of Australia’s last two successful campaigns in 2007 (New Zealand) and 2011 (Singapore) and said it’s special to be playing a Netball World Cup on home soil.

The 66-Test veteran claimed four Player of the Match awards in Singapore but said she still doesn’t take her spot in the starting line-up for granted.

“I feel a lot more confident in what I’m able to do out there on court but that did take a bit of time,” she said.

“Still to this day I make most of every opportunity but I now know the hard work it takes to be here and continue to be part of this incredible team.”

CJG089A6798Diamonds shooter Caitlin Thwaites, pictured right, is one of five athletes in the team set to make her Netball World Cup debut and said she’s eager to get on court.

“I really am trying at every training session to show the coaches that the combinations between myself and Nat or Erin (Bell) are something that they could definitely go to in the big matches,” Thwaites said.

“I’m ready for the challenge if they’re going to give me the opportunity. This has been a goal of mine for a very long time, more than four years, so exciting that’s it’s finally here.”

The 28-year-old said the Diamonds are eager to stamp their authority on the tournament from the opening whistle.

“We really just want to send a bit of a message that we really mean business and that we are the team to beat and you’re going to have to bring your A-Game if you want to challenge us,” Thwaites declared.

“We’re very aware that we’ve got a target on our backs but want to set the standard from the first game.”

The Diamonds match against Trinidad & Tobago – which will be the 1000th played in Netball World Cup history – follows the official opening ceremony, which takes place at 7pm (AEST).

The ceremony will celebrate the energy, excitement and enthusiasm of netball to a packed arena of 16,500 fans and many more across the world through international broadcast.

It will feature the parade of nations and allow the crowd to catch a glimpse of the sought after prize, the famous Netball World Cup trophy.

Netball World Cup SYDNEY 2015 will be broadcast in Australia on FOX SPORTS, Network TEN and via the Netball Live app, available to download from the App Store and Google Play. Check your local guides for match details.