Queensland Firebirds captain Laura Geitz is expecting to face a fired-up Grace Rasmussen in Monday night's trans-Tasman league preliminary final in Brisbane after the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic wing attack missed out on Silver Ferns selection this week.
Geitz, who is also the Australian Diamonds skipper, was intrigued Rasmussen's name was missing from the squad named for the Commonwealth Games, with her having been a consistent performer this year and having previous experience at the top level.
''I was really interested to see Grace missing out on the Silver Ferns selection,'' Geitz said, adding the 26-year-old was the Magic's key player in the attack end.
''She's definitely earned herself a couple of Golden Bibs this year, and she's done some fantastic work. And I know she did some great work against us last time we met as well.
''So she'll obviously be coming out firing and put out another strong performance. A couple of weeks ago we were in a similar situation when the team [was] being announced. It's always a bit tricky when it's announced mid-season, there's a fair few emotions flying around, and it's different to previous years.
''Selection is one thing but how you come back and play in your club team is another thing.''
Geitz said the Firebirds have got over the disappointment of losing Monday night's major semifinal against the Melbourne Vixens and had a great training on Wednesday night. They have another session tomorrow and then again on Sunday as they look to bounce back.
''It would have been wonderful for us to be able to host the grand final, but in saying that, and I think the Magic would agree, to have hard matches and for us to be playing again this week, puts us in good stead. I think our group of players benefit from playing weekly rather than having a break.''
The Queenslanders came away with a 59-55 win in ''hostile'' Hamilton in the last round of the regular season, and Geitz said they were eager to play back in Brisbane for the first time since April 27, having staged their last two home fixtures on the Gold Coast.
Geitz said that in the finals all the teams were closely matched and it was about the one which composes themselves the best which would thrive.
''I think it was more about our nerves and us probably not relaxing and never really getting into the game,'' Geitz said of her team's last outing, with that loss coming on the back of six successive wins.
''Hopefully we've got that one over and done with and we can just get out and play. I think when we do that that's when we put out our best performances.''
Geitz is an inspiration for her side - the goal keep leads the competition in intercepts (40) and deflections (78), while also being the most penalised player (231) - but knows the Magic will test her.
''I think [Magic coach] Julie's [Fitzgerald] done some fantastic work with the goalers in the circle and I just think that we'll have to definitely be on the top of our game to try and combat those two [Ellen Halpenny and Jo Harten]. And obviously the defensive end is fantastic and works so well.
''Their tough opponents, we match up really well on each other.''
- Waikato Times