Geitz’s absence creates opportunity in defence

Australian Diamonds defender Clare McMeniman is excited by the challenge of stepping up and filling the void left by the absence of captain Laura Geitz for the remaining two Tests of the Constellation Cup series.

Geitz is being rested for the Tests in Melbourne on Sunday and Perth this Friday night after shouldering a huge workload for the Queensland Firebirds and Diamonds in 2015.

Since taking over as Australian captain more than two years ago Geitz has only missed two Tests – both coming against England last October.

The loss of Geitz leaves Sharni Layton (31 Tests) as the most experienced defender in the side that will face New Zealand at Melbourne’s Hisense Arena on Sunday and at Perth Arena next week.

McMeniman, April Letton and Jo Weston – Geitz’s replacement for the last two Tests of the calendar year – have a combined tally of four Tests between them.

Ironically, it was Geitz’s absence through a knee injury last year that allowed McMeniman to make her international debut.

McMeniman said she’s eager to put her hand up to coach Lisa Alexander and take on more responsibility and assure there’s little disruption to the team dynamics without Geitz’s presence on court.

“We’re all going to miss Geitzy but it’s a wonderful opportunity for me to step up,” McMeniman declared.

“Even though I’m relatively new to Diamonds scene, I’ve been around these girls for a long time so looking forward to the opportunity to have some more presence, whether that’s on court or off court.

“It’s just really exciting for me.

“But the beauty about this line-up is it doesn’t matter who comes or goes; we have that flexibility and ability for other players to come in so that makes it really interchangeable.”

Layton was one of the dominant goal keepers in the ANZ Championship in 2015 – earning selection in the All-Star team – and carried that form into the Netball World Cup in Sydney when given the chance to play in the role.

Letton will be eager to build on the sole Test she played on Australia’s tour of England back in January 2013 while Weston is earmarked as one of the country’s most promising up-and-coming defenders.

Should Weston see court time in any of the next two Tests, she will become the Diamonds’ third debutante of the series behind Gabi Simpson and Gretel Tippett.

McMeniman said there’s a steely determination among the team to clinch the series in Australia’s first Test on home soil since winning the world title in August.

“After winning the two games in New Zealand there’s nothing more than we want than to come home and win in front of a home crowd,” she said.

“What better place to do it than in Melbourne. The crowd there is so parochial and the support we get is so great.

“We want to win every single game we step out and play and this one will be no different. We know the Silver Ferns will come out hard – but we just want it that little bit more.”

Sunday’s third Constellation Cup Test at Melbourne’s Hisense Arena begins at 12.15pm (AEDT). Watch live on ONE HD, Fox Sports or the Netball Live App.