Five NSW athletes have been named in the Australian Diamonds squad to contest this year’s Constellation Cup series, as announced by Netball Australia this morning.
The Diamonds have named an extended 15‐player squad, including four debutants, for October’s four-Test series against the New Zealand Silver Ferns, beginning on Tuesday 20 October in Christchurch.
Ashleigh Brazill, Erin Bell, April Letton, Kim Ravaillion, Gabi Simpson and Paige Hadley have been named in the squad, along with Hadley’s NSW Swifts’ teammates Sharni Layton and Caitlin Thwaites, with a 12-strong team to be selected by Head Coach Lisa Alexander prior to each Test.
“It is wonderful our three NSW Swifts will continue their Australian careers following a triumphant Netball World Cup performance in our hometown earlier this season, and I’d like to congratulate Paige, Sharni and Caitlin on their Diamonds selection,” Netball NSW Chief Executive Officer Carolyn Campbell declared.
“In addition to our Swifts, it’s also pleasing to see another five athletes who began their representative careers with Netball NSW selected into the extended Australian squad. It’s a wonderful achievement and representative of the hard work it has taken to reach this level.
“I’d like to take this opportunity to wish Lisa Alexander and the Australian Diamonds all the best in the upcoming Constellation Cup series against our old foes, the Silver Ferns. We will be watching and cheering loudly,” Campbell concluded.
Following the retirements of 2015 NSW Swift Julie Corletto and former Swifts’ Premiership player Rebecca Bulley, and the international retirement of Diamonds’ Vice Captain Kimberlee Green, Alexander has named the uncapped Gretel Tippett (Firebirds), Brazill (Fever), Simpson (Firebirds) and Joanna Weston (Vixens).
Along with the quartet, defenders Clare McMeniman and Letton have earnt recalls to the Diamonds, joining world champions Laura Geitz (captain), Caitlin Bassett, Bell, Hadley, Renae Ingles (nee Hallinan), Layton, Natalie Medhurst, Ravaillion and Thwaites.
“We’re thrilled that all nine Netball World Cup players made themselves available for Constellation Cup selection,” Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander said.
“The Constellation Cup not only gives us the chance to write the next chapter in our storied rivalry with the Silver Ferns but the opportunity to reward those previously on the cusp of selection and working hard in our squad.”
West Coast Fever captain and former Swift Brazill may finally get her opportunity to pull on the green and gold, three years after a knee injury prevented the midcourter from making her international debut with the Diamonds.
Young guns Tippett and Simpson have been rewarded with maiden Diamonds selections for breakout seasons with ANZ Championship premiers Queensland Firebirds while Weston continued to stake her claim as a future Diamonds defender.
“Such is the depth in Australian netball, the new inclusions were unlucky to miss out on Diamonds selection for the Netball World Cup but we’re excited to be able to further develop our squad and team to begin the new cycle and defend our Commonwealth Games and Netball World Cup gold medals,” Alexander said.
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.
Alexander will name the 12-‐player Diamonds teams ahead of the Christchurch (October 20), Auckland (October 22), Melbourne (October 25) and Perth (October 30) Tests.
Along with the 15-player squad for the Constellation Cup, Weston, NSW representative Kristiana Manu’a and Liz Watson have been elevated into the extended 2015‐16 Diamonds squad and available for future international selection, including January’s Tour of England.
Limited tickets are still available for the Melbourne and Perth Tests. Tickets are available from Ticketek. Purchase online at www.ticketek.com.au, phone 132 849 or any Ticketek outlet.
Australian Diamonds for 2015 Constellation Cup
Caitlin Bassett (WA/West Coast Fever)
Ashleigh Brazill (NSW/West Coast Fever)
Erin Bell (NSW/AdelaideThunderbirds)
Laura Geitz (QLD/Queensland Firebirds)
Paige Hadley (NSW/NSW Swifts)
Renae Ingles (VIC/Adelaide Thunderbirds)
Sharni Layton (VIC/NSW Swifts)
April Letton (NSW/West Coast Fever)
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)
Joanna Weston (VIC/Melbourne Vixens)