Familiar faces go head to head in Brisbane

International netball returns to Australia this afternoon, with four of the world’s best netballing nations going head to head in Brisbane.

The Brisbane Entertainment Centre will host the Netball Quad Series opener – a double header with the Samsung Diamonds versus the England Roses, followed by the New Zealand Silver Ferns versus South Africa Spar Proteas.

Newly appointed Samsung Diamonds captain Caitlin Bassett is excited by the prospect of numerous styles of play to be on show.

“I think it’s going to be fantastic to see so many different styles of play out there,” Bassett said.

“I know England and South Africa have improved massively over the last couple of years, but we are also looking forward to seeing New Zealand, because they’ve had their own competition this year so we can’t wait to see what they put out.”

Australia and New Zealand have long been the top two netball teams in the world, however England and South Africa are hot on their heels.

Last time Australia and England met, the Diamonds narrowly won by a margin of just one goal. The Roses are determined to make the world take note, according to their captain Ama Agbeze.

“For a long time Australia and New Zealand have been number one and two, and England they have been kind of thereabouts,” said Agbeze.

“Actually if we put our foot down, we can say hello world, start paying attention to us.”

With eight English athletes taking part in the inaugural Suncorp Super Netball season, many match ups will be with familiar faces.

“Over the years we have had lots of players play in Australia and New Zealand and we grow from that,” Agbeze said. “You learn how the Aussies play and also about top intensity netball.”

Expect to see match ups between Suncorp Super Netball teammates Caitlin Bassett and Geva Mentor, as well as the Thunderbirds’ Chelsea Pitman against Gabi Simpson, and GIANTS Netball’s Serena Guthrie on Madi Robinson…just to name a few.

Despite the gap narrowing between the world’s best, the Diamonds know they have a target on their back.

“Pressure is a privilege as the old saying goes, we are working really hard to embrace that pressure and push through it,” said Bassett.

“While we are trying to blood some young players, and we have a fairly inexperienced team, for us it is all about the win.”

Minister for Tourism and Major Events Kate Jones said the 2017 Netball Quad Series would kick-off with an electric double header between four world-class teams.

“The tournament features four heavyweight international teams whose fierce rivalry will attract visitors from around Australia and the world,” Ms Jones said.

“We are committed to supporting major events like this through Tourism and Events Queensland which drive visitation, provide local economic benefits, support local jobs and foster community pride.”

The Diamonds host the England Roses at Brisbane Entertainment Centre Boondall at 3.00pm AEST Saturday 26 August. The New Zealand Silver Ferns will play South Africa Spar Proteas at the same venue immediately following the Australian game. Tickets available via Ticketek or watch live on Channel 9 and the Netball Live app.