She’s yet to play a Test match for Australia, but Paige Hadley jokes she’ll have her own fan club at Wollongong’s WIN Entertainment Centre when the Diamonds take on Malawi in the opening game of their Coles Netball Test Series.
Hadley has joined the Diamonds squad for their two Tests against the Queens and said she’s excited about the prospect of making her senior international debut on Wednesday night.
The NSW Swifts midcourter said plenty of family and friends are making the trek south from Sydney for the game hoping to watch her run around in the green and gold.
“I think I’ll have like a Hadley stand (on Wednesday night) because I’m a Sydney girl so they’re all making the trek down. It should be exciting,” Hadley said.
“It just hit me yesterday when I came in and saw all the girls, so I’m pretty nervous but looking forward to it.”
Hadley, who recently turned 21, earned her call up to the Diamonds after a consistent season with the Swifts, her first full season in the ANZ Championship.
She was also part of Australia’s 21/U side that won silver at August’s World Youth Championship in Scotland but said a senior international Test match will be another step up she’ll have to adjust to.
“I guess it’s going to be intense for a full 60 minutes. Obviously (at) World Youth Cup we only had a few really hard games so every game internationally with the senior team is going to be a big step up,” Hadley said.
“It’s going to be tough coming in half-way through a series with the girls but. But it’s going to be a lot of fun and hard work, so I’m looking forward to it.”
Unlike some of her teammates, Hadley already has experience playing against the Malawi style of netball – two years ago when the Queens used the Australian 21/U side for match practice ahead of their appearance at a Four Nation Invitational Tournament in Perth.
She said also learning how to adjust too many different game styles at the World Youth Championships was a benefit.
“We played Barbados and a lot of different other countries and obviously the (Silver) Ferns play different to Malawi (with) more of a possession game,” Hadley said.
“I definitely think that Barbados (have a similar style to Malawi). They didn’t give up the ball easy and Israel, even though it wasn’t a close game, they didn’t want to let the ball go. So you had to defend for those four seconds to get a held ball or something (like that).
“It wasn’t intercepts galore; it was sort of forcing the error from them.”
Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander said Hadley and veteran defender Demelza McCloud have been quickly welcomed into the group that won the Constellation Cup series 4-1 against New Zealand.
“There’s a lot of happiness in the camp, there’s no doubt about that,” Alexander said.
Alexander said it was important for the long-term future that young players such as Hadley were given a chance to show what they had to offer the Diamonds set-up.
“Absolutely vital for our future and I think that’s what’s been the key feature been in the last couple of years, that we’ve been able to seamlessly transition those younger athletes into the group,” Alexander said.
“They’ve been well managed by their previous coaches to be very well prepared for this environment and then also it’s a credit to our leadership group in the way that we go about bringing them into the group that they feel so comfortable.”
Tickets for Wednesday night’s Test at the WIN Entertainment Centre are still available via Ticketek at www.ticketek.com.au, by phone on 132 849 or at any Ticketek outlet.
The match will be broadcast live on Fox Sports 1 (Channel 501) from 8.00pm with SBS 2 showing it on delay at 10.30pm.