The Netball International Quad Sports Series gets underway this weekend in the UK. It’s the final opportunity for players to impress the selectors before the Commonwealth Games selections are made for that competition which commences in April.
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Laura Geitz, Sharni Layton ‘still in the picture’ for Games netball team
COACH Lisa Alexander says Laura Geitz and Sharni Layton “are still in the picture’’ for Commonwealth Games selection as a Diamonds squad minus the two star defenders heads overseas for the first international netball series of the year.
Alexander had new mum Geitz and defender Layton, on the comeback from a long break due to exhaustion, at a training camp in Canberra and said both impressed.
“For Sharni to be back on court was an achievement for her. She was able to put some solid performances out there and that’s a tremendous thing for her. We are very proud of her,’’ said Alexander before flying out Monday.
“She is in the squad and still in the (Commonwealth Games) picture.
“Laura also did very well. She got through the camp successfully and many hard matches.
“I think she convinced herself she was able to play at this level again. She had to convince herself she could do it.’’
But while the pair are in the selection mix they are on the backfoot compared to teammates heading to the UK and South Africas for the January Quad series.
These 14 players have additional chances to impress selectors in matches against South Africa, England and New Zealand.
“I want to see them still improving.’’ Alexander said. “It is a really challenging period but this group is up for it.’’
Australia’s first outings of the Quad series are against South Africa and England in the UK on Jan 21 and 23 (AEDT).
The Diamonds then head to Johannesburg to meet New Zealand on January 26.
Australian Diamonds in Quad Series: Caitlin Bassett, April Brandley, Courtney Bruce, Paige Hadley, Emily Mannix, Kate Moloney, Susan Pettitt, Kim Ravaillion, Gabi Simpson, Caitlin Thwaites, Gretel Tippett, Liz Watson, Jo Weston, Stephanie Wood.
Commonwealth Games netball spots up for grabs in Quad series
Australian coach Lisa Alexander says there is pressure on every player in the Diamonds Quad series touring side to perform at their best against South Africa this weekend with Commonwealth Games spots up for grabs.
AUSTRALIAN netball coach Lisa Alexander says there is pressure on every player in the Diamonds Quad Series touring side to perform at their best against South Africa this weekend with Commonwealth Games spots on offer.
Alexander has a longstanding practice of selecting form over reputation with the four-team Quad series the last chance for players to force their way into the Commonwealth Games 12.
Australia is taking on the South African Proteas, the English Roses and the New Zealand Silver Ferns in the tournament – the last international series before the Commonwealth Games netball competition kicks off in April.
Pic 4 – Stephanie Wood and Caitlin Thwaites of the Diamonds go up for the ball together in last year’s Constellation Cup with New Zealand.
Alexander says the three-match tour being played in the UK this weekend and South Africa next weekend is the final chance for players to cement their positions with competition within the squad at the highest level.
“There is a lot of pressure on their performance. It is very important how they perform here,’’ she said.
“The team is only three to four weeks away. They know what they have to do.’’
Alexander said the Diamonds go into the series with confidence after a highly successful Commonwealth Games simulation camp earlier this month.
“It was the best squad camp I have ever been a part of,’’ she said. The quality was spot on.
“They are fighting for Commonwealth Games selection and the athletes continue to improve and do their work. Everyone is still showing improvement.
Missing from the tour are defenders Sharni Layton and Laura Geitz who attended last weeks camp and are “still in the picture’’ for Games selection despite their absence from the international arena in recent times.
Layton has been on a break for exhaustion with Geitz a new mother.
Australia are the defending Commonwealth Games champions after beating New Zealand at the last tournament four years ago.
Netball Quad Series – Test 1
South Africa Proteas v Australian Diamonds
Sunday 2.30am AEDT
Copper Box Arena, London
Channel 9 2.30am AEDT