“She doesn’t need to be another Julie Corletto, she needs to be a Sharni Layton.”
That was the message from Australian Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander to her fearsome defender on the eve of the first Test of the Constellation Cup against the New Zealand Silver Ferns on Tuesday.
Following the retirements of defenders Julie Corletto and Rebecca Bulley after the triumphant Netball World Cup, Alexander reminded her starlet to play her own game.
Layton is expected to fill the vacant goal defence position in the Diamonds’ Constellation Cup title defence, which begins in Christchurch.
“Sharni brings a unique ability, if you looked at her at wing defence in the Commonwealth Games and what she brought to that game, in particular against England,” Alexander said of Australia’s one goal victory over England in Glasgow last year.
“We’re looking for her to stamp her name on the goal defence bib. She doesn’t need to be another Julie Corletto, she needs to be a Sharni Layton.”
Layton established herself as one of the most feared goal keepers in the ANZ Championship following a stellar year with the NSW Swifts but Alexander will use her versatility during the four-Test series.
That could extend to captain Laura Geitz after the coach hinted at a move from her traditional office at goal keeper.
“We want to explore some possibilities with her (Laura), she perhaps needs to have a run out at goal defence and put Sharni behind her so we’ve got some good options there and really looking forward to it,” Alexander said.
The opening Test of the 2015 Constellation Cup will be the first meeting between the Diamonds and Silver Ferns since the World Cup final in Sydney in August.
Alexander is expecting a hungry Silver Ferns tomorrow, who have only made one change to their World Cup team with the inclusion of Ameliaranne Wells for the unavailable Maria Tutaia.
“There’s confidence (in the Diamonds playing group) but also wariness of where the New Zealand Silver Ferns have come from and their improvement over the World Cup.
“We’re certainly not taking them lightly, we’re not getting ahead of ourselves and we’re preparing for a very tough four-Test series.
“We certainly expect the Silver Ferns to come out firing in that first quarter and we’ve got to make sure that we’re the same.
“It’s going to be a great contest.”
The Australian Diamonds take on the New Zealand Silver Ferns in the first Test of the 2015 Constellation Cup at Horncastle Arena, Christchurch, on Tuesday from 5.30pm (AEDT). Catch all the action live on FOX SPORTS and the Netball Live app, available from the App Store and Google Play.