Diamonds are for ever and it is expected Australia’s netball form is, too

first_img Read more Commonwealth Games … we have a small favour to ask. More people, like you, are reading and supporting the Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many news organisations, we made the choice to keep our reporting open for all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay.The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We hope you will consider supporting us today. We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism that’s open and independent. Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Share on Twitter Laura Geitz recall shows parenthood is not an elite sport career-ender Share on LinkedIn features Support The Guardian Netball Topics Australia retain Constellation Cup with victory over New Zealand Reuse this content England Roses can bloom at Commonwealth Games, says Tamsin Greenway Since you’re here… Diamondscenter_img “In terms of a few decisions Netball New Zealand has made – banning Laura Langman from playing is one big one – they’ve made their bed and now have to lie in it. She’s one of the best players in the world and they’ve suffered defensively from not having her. I also don’t think they know their best line-up, which is a worry,” Greenway says.The director of netball at Superleague champions Wasps Netball says it’s time for England to make a real impact at a big tournament, after missing out on a medal in Glasgow.“A medal, any medal, isn’t a success for the Roses any more. We’ve got to believe, at some point, we can make the final,” she says.Gaudion and McMahon expect the Roses, led by 33-year-old Geva Mentor, playing in her fifth Games, along with Jamaica, to feature prominently.Gaudion warns against discounting the recently-flailing Ferns, though. “You simply can’t write them off. Their history is too rich, too strong, to just discount them,” she says. “Trust me, you don’t want to face the Silver Ferns in a semi-final at the Commonwealth Games … that’s a scary prospect for any team.”McMahon concurs. “I’ve seen and been involved in lots of major tournaments where things have gone in very different directions than form would have suggested.” Share via Email Share on WhatsApp Share on Messenger Commonwealth Games 2018 The Australian squad includes five Commonwealth gold medallists from Glasgow; Bassett, Kim Ravaillion, Caitlin Thwaites, Madi Robinson and ex-skipper and new mother Laura Geitz, who hasn’t played for Australia since 2015.April Brandley, Jo Weston and Courtney Bruce are the other defenders, while mid-courters Simpson and Liz Watson and shooter Stephanie Wood are at their first Commonwealth Games. Rounding out the squad is veteran Susan Pettitt, who wasn’t picked for Glasgow or the 2015 World Cup, but has two Commonwealth silvers – in 2006 and 2010.One of world netball’s most respected names, coach turned-commentator Sue Gaudion, who will call games for Channel Seven, says silver will “absolutely” be a failure for the Lisa Alexander-coached Diamonds.“If I was the other nations, I would be bloody frightened, because this is the best Australian team we’ve ever chosen. Period. It’s a really cleverly-selected team, because it caters for just about every ‘what if’ scenario. There’s brilliant experience, but also youth to back it up,” she says.“With a team as good as this, anything other than a gold medal would be considered by them, and pretty much all of us, as a failure … that’s just the reality. But this is the moment they’re been training for.” Sharelle McMahon, one of Australia’s greatest netballers, agrees. “They’re going out there to win gold, so of course silver would feel like failure to them,” she says.How does the squad shoulder that pressure? “The same way Diamonds’ teams have been shouldering it for decades; you put the best people in the team, you block out the noise and you believe in yourself, each other and the processes you have in place,” McMahon says.“As a group, they wouldn’t really care what we all think, because that’s not what’s important, they can’t control that. From what I have seen in recent years, they focus on what they can control and that leads them to putting out their best.”UK Superleague coach and netball pundit, ex-England player Tamsin Greenway expects New Zealand to miss the final – for the time in Games history. “You can’t entirely write them off, but given the performances we’ve seen in the last six to eight months, I would be amazed if they turn it around. I think – and hope – it will be an Australia versus England final, but be wary of Jamaica too, they could sneak in,” she says.“[Previously] the Kiwis’ experience has dragged them through, but everyone else is getting better and you can’t just rely on Maria Folau brilliance any more. Read more Share on Facebook Share on Pinterest Read more Australia sport As reigning world and Commonwealth champions – and with closest rivals New Zealand floundering of late, losing the Constellation Cup to Australia late last year and to world No 4 Jamaica twice in two days last month – the Diamonds are already pencilled-in by many to win again.The Australians, to be led by captain Caitlin Bassett and vice Gabi Simpson, are in pool A for the preliminary rounds, facing the ever-improving South Africa, coached by former Diamonds boss Norma Plummer, the Sunshine Girls of Jamaica, who will be full of confidence, Barbados, Fiji and Northern Ireland.Pool B includes New Zealand, third-ranked England, Malawi, Wales, Scotland and Uganda. Sides will play every other team in their pool in the preliminaries, to be played at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre from 5-12 April, before finals at the 7,500-capacity Coomera Indoor Sports Centre on 14-15 April.last_img

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