Diamonds use Fast5 to gauge player depth
While Silver Ferns coach Wai Taumaunu has asked several star players to prolong an arduous season in a bid to secure the Fast5 Netball World Series, her Australian counterpart has opted to use the competition to gauge player depth.
Lisa Alexander has included only two fringe members of the Diamonds team that won the Quad Series title in Hamilton last week in her 10-member squad for the quick-fire six-nation tournament which starts in Auckland on Friday.
Central Pulse goal shoot Caitlin Thwaites and West Coast Fever defender Chanel Gomes, who made their test debuts in the Quad Series, are the only players required to back-up against New Zealand, England, Jamaica, South Africa and Malawi.
"It will be a great opportunity for Caitlin and Chanel because they'll get lots of great match play," Alexander said.
The remainder of the playing group consists of emerging talent as Alexander uses the format to test their capabilities.
"The series is important for us in terms of developing talent for the future so the tournament will allow us to benchmark our emerging players against full strength international teams."
The tournament served a useful purpose last year for Alexander as discarded defender Bianca Chatfield and shooter Susan Pratley capitalised on an opportunity to re-enter the international arena- a stepping stone towards their selection in this year's Diamonds' squad.
They were both stand outs as the Diamonds claimed the Quad Series after earlier relinquishing the Constellation Cup to the Silver Ferns.
"You only have to look back to last year to see how well Susan Pratley and Bianca Chatfield did at FastNet and look where they are now and how they've improved," Alexander said.
Taumaunu, meanwhile, has included six front line Ferns in her squad including the ace shooting combination of Irene van Dyk and Maria Tutaia.
Defenders Leana de Bruin, Anna Harrison, Katrina Grant also offer plenty of experience; influential midcourter Laura Langman captains the side after Casey Williams pulled out to rest a knee injury.
Williams has been replaced by Te Huinga Reo Selby-Ricket.
The three-day tournament features modified competition rules which include just five players on court and scoring zones for one, two and three point goals.
Games are played over four six minute quarters and feature unlimited substitutions and a power play quarter where goals for that term are doubled.
Australia faces England, Malawi and New Zealand on Friday and then South Africa and Jamaica on Saturday before the finals on Sunday.
Australian Fast5 Diamonds: Shae Bolton (West Cast Fever), Chanel Gomes (West Coast Fever), Karyn Howarth (Melbourne Vixens), April Letton (NSW Swifts) , Elissa Macleod (Queensland Firebirds), Kimberley Ravaillion (NSW Swifts), Kate Shimmin (Adelaide Thunderbirds), Verity Simmons (West Coast Fever), Caitlin Thwaites (Central Pulse), Amorette Wild (NSW Swifts).