The Australian Fast5 Flyers coach Jane Searle believes that next weekend’s Fast5 Netball World Series in Auckland will provide an audition for her players seeking Australian selection for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Her Flyers side, featuring a mix of youth and experience, will have the opportunity to impress on the international stage, many for the first time, against near full strength teams from New Zealand, England, South Africa, Jamaica and Malawi.
The weekend tournament is a proven breeding ground for the Diamonds, with midcourter Kim Ravaillion the most recent to make her international debut after impressing at last year’s World Netball Series competition.
The 20-year-old has since gone on to make 10 Test appearances for the Australian Diamonds and looks to be a serious contender in coach Lisa Alexander’s Commonwealth Games team after her stellar tournament in 2012.
“The experienced players we’ve got in the team are just as keen as the young ones because everyone is looking at it as a way to further develop their game to make the Diamonds next year or the following year,” Searle said.
“The opportunities are there.”
The tournament will provide a chance to step up against senior international competition for five of Ravaillion’s World Youth Netball Championships team mates, who are looking to follow in her footsteps.
While Diamonds squad members Demelza McCloud, Carla Dziwoki, Tegan Caldwell, Susan Pratley and Ashleigh Brazill will get their last chance to contest international netball before the Commonwealth Games squad is announced.
With a new coaching staff, team, name and logo, the Flyers will be out to put Australia’s Fast5 demons to bed.
Searle says her side will take a ‘horses for courses’ approach to the tournament in Auckland as they chase a maiden title in the modified version of netball.
The Australians are yet to finish better than third in four previous editions of the tournament, winning bronze in 2009 and 2011 before failing the win a game last year, which included their heaviest defeat in the competition, an 18-goal loss to Malawi.
“We’ll explore different strategies for different matches,” Searle said.
“I’ve thought about a lot of those and plan to implement a lot of different things. This format lends itself to creative thinking and creative strategies.
“It is a different format and in some ways you can’t look at it as a traditional game because you’re combining wing defence and wing attack with the centre position
“With shots taken a long way from the post, it brings a lot more of a wing defence’s tactics into a goal defence role, so certain players like an Ash Brazill or a Gabi Simpson can cover both – they can cover the outside shot and I’d be happy if we force a lot of passes into close to goal.
“The Fast5 format lends itself to speed – that’s what Australian teams have always been good at, moving the ball well.”
The Australian Fast5 Flyers will come together for the first time on Saturday when the team arrives in Melbourne for a training camp before heading to New Zealand.