Susan Pettitt has urged Australia’s youngsters to seize their opportunities at this month’s Fast5 Netball World Series in Melbourne.
The evolution of the Samsung Diamonds and a willingness to introduce new talent has seen Australia select a young team for the tournament.
Swifts centre Maddy Proud is a late inclusion in the side which also features Jess Anstiss, Kiera Austin, Sophie Garbin, Matilda Garrett and Kimberley Jenner. While Proud and Anstiss are established members of their Suncorp Super Netball outfits, none have experienced senior international netball.
Pettitt, who captained Australia at the 2016 Fast5 Netball World Series, says newcomers should play with no fear when they get their opportunities against England, New Zealand, Jamaica, South Africa and Malawi in Melbourne.
“Embrace it. Don’t get caught up in the pressure of it all and just have fun,” the retired goal attack said.
“If you’re a shooter, give the three-pointers a go. If you’re a defender, take the opportunity to play around with different structures.”
Pettitt embodied that advice throughout her playing career.
The 71-Test goaler made her Test debut at the 2006 Commonwealth Games and won a world title with Australia at the 2007 World Championships in Auckland.
Her international career stalled not long after the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, missing several squad announcements before making a deserved comeback to the Diamonds in 2017.
At least part of her resurrection on the international scene could be attributed to Fast5 duty. Pettitt credited an improvement in her long-range shooting to the abbreviated game.
“It certainly helped with my longer shots, having the freedom to have a go,” she said.
“Fast5 makes you think outside the box. You’ve got to use your brain so it sharpens your game sense as well.”
There are other recent examples of players making their mark in Fast5 before Diamonds debuts. Kate Moloney, Caitlyn Nevins and Courtney Bruce all had their starts in the five-a-side version.
Pettitt said it was important not to waste a minute.
“They’re only six-minute quarters and you can be rotated off after three so don’t wait to make your impact.”
The Fast5 Netball World Series takes place on the weekend of the 27-28 October at the Melbourne Arena in Melbourne. Get your tickets HERE.