Lisa Alexander has named the 12 Australian Diamonds that will contest the opening two Tests of the 2015 Constellation Cup, as announced by Netball Australia this morning.
Four NSW athletes have been selected including Paige Hadley, Erin Bell, Kim Ravaillion and Gabi Simpson, with the latter selected to make her international debut.
They will be joined by Hadley’s Swifts’ teammates in Sharni Layton and Caitlin Thwaites in the side that will contest the first two New Zealand-based matches, with the Trans-Tasman series commencing next Tuesday 20 October in Christchurch.
The Swifts’ trio will have the opportunity to step onto the court against their future teammate and Swifts’ 2016 import Laura Langman after Netball New Zealand announced the 29-year-old would have the chance to continue her unbeaten run of 127 consecutive international appearances with the Silver Ferns.
Queensland Firebirds coach Roselee Jencke will be the first Australian ANZ Championship coach to join the Diamonds in a support coaching role for the New Zealand leg of the Constellation Cup, after Netball Australia announced earlier this year the Australian Franchise Head Coaches would rotate through the vacant Assistant Coach role in the aim of gaining international exposure.
Simpson, fellow debutant Gretel Tippett and the recalled Clare McMeniman will fill the three positions vacated following the retirements of defenders Julie Corletto and Rebecca Bulley, and the international retirement of vice-captain Kim Green, after the World Cup.
The trio join the nine remaining members of the Diamonds’ World Cup winning team – Laura Geitz, Ravaillion, Caitlin Bassett, Bell, Hadley, Renae Ingles (nee Hallinan), Layton, Natalie Medhurst and Thwaites, along with specialist attack coach Marg Caldow.
“With the first two Tests over in New Zealand, it’s important that we make a positive start to establish momentum for the rest of the series in Melbourne and Perth,” Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander said.
The Diamonds will head to New Zealand on Saturday morning for the first two Tests in Christchurch and Auckland (Thursday 22 October) with five shooters, four midcourters and three defenders.
Alexander and national selectors, who named an extended 15-player squad for this year’s four-Test Constellation Cup series, will name separate teams for the remaining two Test matches in Australia after the second Test.
The Constellation Cup series will be the first time that the Diamonds have taken the court since defeating the Silver Ferns by three goals to win a third consecutive Netball World Cup title at Allphones Arena in August.
Limited tickets are still available for the Melbourne and Perth Tests from Ticketek. Purchase online at www.ticketek.com.au, phone 132 849 or any Ticketek outlet.
Australian Diamonds for 2015 Constellation Cup – New Zealand Leg:
Caitlin Bassett (WA/West Coast Fever)
Erin Bell (NSW/Adelaide Thunderbirds)
Laura Geitz (QLD/Queensland Firebirds)
Paige Hadley (NSW/NSW Swifts)
Renae Ingles (nee Hallinan) (VIC/Adelaide Thunderbirds)
Sharni Layton (VIC/NSW Swifts)
Clare McMeniman (QLD/Queensland Firebirds)
Natalie Medhurst (SA/West Coast Fever)
Kim Ravaillion (NSW/Queensland Firebirds)
Gabi Simpson (NSW/Queensland Firebirds)
Caitlin Thwaites (VIC/NSW Swifts)
Gretel Tippett (QLD/Queensland Firebirds)
Head Coach: Lisa Alexander
Assistant Coaches: Roselee Jencke & Marg Caldow (Specialist Attacking Coach)