Young talent earn chance to grace centre stage

2015 21U National ChampionshipsAustralia’s emerging young talent will get the chance over the next week to experience a taste of international netball facing off against several countries in a series of Netball World Cup SYDNEY 2015 warm-up matches.

The Netball Centre of Excellence touring party has headed to Tasmania where it will play against Wales and Scotland.

The side will face Wales in Launceston on Thursday night and then head to Hobart for matches against Australian Netball League team Tassie Spirit (Saturday) and Scotland (Sunday).

Coach Nicole Richardson, who represented Australia in 32 Tests and was part of its 2002 Commonwealth Games and 2003 Netball World Cup sides, is eager to see what her squad can produce against two countries ranked in the world’s top 10.

“It’s an exciting group of athletes and I think we will definitely give both teams a good run. I expect us to be really competitive and push both teams,” Richardson said.

“The objective of the tour is that it’s a learning opportunity for the 12 athletes. So everyone needs to start a game, experience what it’s like in heat of battle and everyone, at some point, needs to enter a game.

“It’s teaching them that you’ve got to grab an opportunity and have an impact straight away.

“Where possible, we’ll spread the court time – particularly against the two national teams.”

West Australian teenager Sophie Garbin, pictured, has been called into the team to replace Queensland’s Beryl Friday, who is sidelined with an ankle injury.

The 18-year-old Garbin has been identified by Western Australia’s pathway, having represented the state at underage national championship level the past two years, and was part of its ANL bronze-medal winning side Western Sting this season.

“Sophie is someone that Western Australian has really identified quite early as a talented prospect so this is a wonderful opportunity for her to step up to the next level,” Richardson said.

Garbin was part of the Australian 19/U squad that travelled to New Zealand for the Trans-Tasman Tournament in Rotorua.

“It will be pretty exciting to get another international experience in the same year,” Garbin said.

“In the next couple of years my goal is to be starting seven in the ANL and the focus for most of the girls in my age group is to make the World Youth Cup team in 2017, which will be pretty exciting.”

The CoE touring party: Taylah Davies (NSW, captain), Emily Mannix (VIC/Melbourne Vixens, vice-captain), Toni Anderson (NSW), Kiera Austin (NSW), Kristina Brice (NSW), Emily Burgess (South Australia), Sophie Garbin (WA), Hulita Haukinima (QLD), Annika Lee-Jones (WA), Numi Tupaea (WA), Maddy Turner (SA/NSW Swifts), Georgie Virgo (SA). Coach: Nicole Richardson.