Ahead of the International Test Series, we chatted to former Australian Captain Liz Ellis to discuss all things Samsung Diamonds, with a new-look Aussie team selected and the World Cup looming next year.
With the Diamonds winning all three games of the Quad Series and with a tough four games against a much improved New Zealand Silver Ferns to come – have some of points below already been answered or is there still plenty for the team to work on heading into 2019?
What do you see as the main priorities for the Diamonds in the run-in to the World Cup?
For me it’s about figuring out who their best seven are, and getting that cohesion going for the full 60 minutes. We saw in the 2018 Commonwealth Games final that there are any number of players getting out there and doing the job, but you’ve still got to have your top seven. You’ve got to know who your best seven are and they’ve got to be able to produce for the full hour and in big situations. I think the Diamonds might be a little bit scarred by the fact that they lost a close game (in the Gold Medal match), so it’s about making sure they’ve got the right processes in place for when things get close.
What are some of the challenges the Samsung Diamonds will face as a group as the World Cup approaches?
For me I think the defensive line is yet to prove that it can win those big moments in big matches. That’s the confidence that can be built through these sorts of Test Series. And then it’s the introduction of someone like Kelsey Browne into the team, and making sure that she understands the structures, that the players around her understand her, and then building the confidence in that new midcourt.
Everything with the Diamonds has to be geared towards next year’s World Cup. You can see from the selection of the squad that one of the things they felt they needed to look at was the wing defence position, and that’s why there’s a number of wing defences in the squad, to all push each other and see who comes out on top. It’s about making sure you’ve got all your bases covered.
The Samsung Diamonds have had a number of major retirements post-Commonwealth Games. What did you learn when you went through that period as a player?
One of the biggest things is not to go until you’re ready. Lots of people want to retire players once they hit 30 but I think we’ve seen plenty of players hit their straps in their early 30s. The way that the players prepare now and the time they have to put into recovery, I actually think we can see players play well beyond 30. I was a far more mature player into my mid-30s and I played some of my best netball in my last year when I was 34. You should retire when you’re ready and when you’ve had enough.
What’s the biggest piece of advice you’d give to the players as they move away from their professional sporting careers?
It’s important to think about it as not retiring from international netball but retiring to something. Everyone’s got different situations, but for me it was about retiring to a few different things that I wanted to achieve outside of netball. It’s not the end, it’s actually the beginning of something new.
You’ve got to plan it. I plan everything. Nothing is left to chance and that’s what I was like with my retirement. I had a physical plan, I had a mental plan and I had a career plan. Don’t just retire and then figure out what to do next – have a good idea of what you’re going to do, before you go anywhere near announcing it.
Announcing your retirement before your last game – YES or NO?
For me, the best thing I did was announce my retirement after my last game. If you announce it early, you run the risk that it doesn’t help you and becomes overwhelming. For me, it was something that then didn’t take over the entire narrative and the World Cup and what we were doing, because no one knew about it, so I could just get on with business.