It was a fairy-tale start to the international careers of Kristiana Manu’a and Stephanie Wood.
The pair made their debut in green and gold during the Diamonds’ 25-goal win over the South Africa Spar Proteas, Manu’a describing the feeling as “amazing.”
“It was such a good feeling. Building up to that moment and just that call to get on court was really exciting and I’m so grateful to do it with the girls in our team,” said 20-year-old Manu’a, the 169th player to represent Australia in netball.
“I have a couple of cousins, aunties and uncles that came down and made the trip (to Auckland) to watch, so it was good to have their support.”
Manu’s and Wood were injected into the Diamonds line-up in the final term of the Diamonds’ opening Test of the Netball Quad Series, with Manu’a slotting into goal keeper and Wood goal attack.
Wood, our 170th Australian netball player, shot five goals from six attempts for the quarter.
Coach Lisa Alexander said their debuts weren’t pre-planned, with many factors contributing to the decision to put them out on court.
“Steph and Kristiana have both earned their debut today and it was great actually to put them both on at the same time,” Alexander said.
“They earned it on what we see in the match, the coaches and I don’t necessarily have a set plan and say ‘oh we’re going to bring them on at half time’. We read what’s happening out there and we watch training form and both have trained really well.
“It was exciting, it was exciting for the whole group.”
Wood and Manu’a, along with teammates April Brandley, Liz Watson and Gabi Simpson will have the opportunity to play their first international game on home soil when the Diamonds host the England Roses in the second Test of the Netball Quad Series. The game will be played at Adelaide Entertainment Centre and limited tickets are still available via Ticketek.
Photography: Michael Bradley