Selectors have announced the 2015 Australian 21/U team that will play a series of warm-up matches against the Australian Diamonds, New Zealand Silver Ferns and England in the lead-up to August’s Netball World Cup SYDNEY 2015.
NSW representatives Kaitlyn Bryce and Kristiana Manu’a have been announced as part of the 12-strong team that will take on the Diamonds in Newcastle as well as the Silver Ferns, a New Zealand `A’ side and England in Sydney between 1-5 August.
The team was chosen by Australian Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander, Australian 21/U coach Tania Obst, 21/U national selector Kylee Byrne and Netball Australia’s National Pathway Manager Stacey West.
Manu’a received the nod after an outstanding debut season in the 2015 ANZ Championship for the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic, while Bryce is currently contesting the 2015 Australian Netball League (ANL) with the Netball NSW Waratahs.
Both Bryce and Manu’a are strong advocates for the NSW netball player pathway, having made their State representative debuts together in the 2011 NSW 17/U team. The duo went on to be crowned National Champions in 2012 (17/U) as well as make their ANL debuts in the same season, before graduating to the NSW 21/U Team in 2013. Bryce and Manu’a even went as far as being Club teammates for St George who claimed their inaugural DOOLEYS State League Waratah Cup title in 2014.
Alexander said current Diamonds – including captain Laura Geitz and leadership group members Kimberlee Green, Renae Hallinan and Julie Corletto – experienced a similar opportunity when she was coaching the 21/U side in the lead-up to the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.
“It was a tremendous benefit to give those athletes at the time that experience as part of their netball journey,” Alexander said.
“So for this group of 21/U athletes, it’s a terrific opportunity to get this experience at the international level. It’s a once-in-a-generation opportunity in many respects to get this level of match play.
“All of the athletes will thoroughly enjoy it and, from the Diamonds perspective, it will certainly assist us in our preparations.”
Obst said she’s looking forward to watching the athletes step into the international arena and take on the world’s top three ranked countries.
“The depth of talent in Australia is tremendous at the moment so we’re striving to keep that pool deep and keep Australia at the top,” Obst said.
“We are coming in with a very strong team; there are only two athletes that don’t have any ANZ Championship experience, be it either as a contracted player or having been called up as a replacement player.
“Our schedule is pretty intense and we’re coming up against the three best nations in the world plus the New Zealand `A’ team. So the athletes’ ability to recover and produce day after day will be tested, but what an environment to do that in.”
Netball NSW legend and former NSW Swifts co-Captain Mo’onia Gerrard will work with the team as a specialist coach and Alexander said the veteran of 68 Tests would provide a wealth of knowledge.
“She’ll be able to talk about her experiences at international level and help them understand the sort of mindset and preparation that they’ll need to go through to combat those different international styles,” Alexander said.
“Mo’onia’s experience and dedication has been unquestioned and the fact that she’s now choosing to pass that onto the next generation will only benefit this group and give them a greater understanding of international competition.”
Financial support for the 2015 Australian 21/U team has been provided by the Australian Commonwealth Games Association – through its NextGEN AUSComGames squad program.
“The ACGA is very pleased to provide funding which will enable the 21/U players to play matches against the best three Netball teams in the world. It is a great opportunity for the players and will give them valuable international competition experience at the highest level,” ACGA Chief Executive Officer Perry Crosswhite said.
Netball Australia thanks the Australian Commonwealth Games Association – through its NextGEN AUSComGames squad program – for its support of the Australian 21/U team.
2015 Australian 21/U team:
Gia ABERNETHY (South Australia)
Kaitlyn BRYCE (NSW)
Mahalia CASSIDY (Queensland)
Sarah KLAU (South Australia)
Cody LANGE (SA/Adelaide Thunderbirds)
Chelsea LEMKE (South Australia)
Kristina MANU’A (NSW/WBOP Magic)
Kaylia STANTON (WA/West Coast Fever)
Alice TEAGUE-NEELD (Victoria/Melbourne Vixens)
Chloe WATSON (Victoria/Melbourne Vixens)
Liz WATSON (Victoria/Melbourne Vixens)
Jo WESTON (Victoria/Melbourne Vixens)