Two Diamonds debutants in team to face Ferns
Netball Australia has included two uncapped midcourters in its squad to prepare for September's Constellation Cup series with the Silver Ferns as coach Lisa Alexander plans for a future without retired centre and captain Natalie von Bertouch.
Kimberlee Green and Madison Browne are the experienced options to replace the 76-test veteran, who yesterday revealed the triumphant climax to her Adelaide Thunderbirds trans-Tasman championship campaign marked the end of her career.
Kimberley Ravaillion, the 19-year-old who made her test debut in January's tour of England, retains her place while Gabrielle Simpson (Queensland Firebirds) and Paige Hadley (NSW Swifts) are included in a senior squad for the first time.
"Kim, Gabi and Paige all performed with a maturity well beyond their years and thoroughly deserve their selections after consistent performances this season against the world's best netballers in the ANZ Championship," Alexander said.
New Zealand-based shooter Caitlin Thwaites and defender Julie Corletto were also named in the 17-member squad.
Wellington-based Thwaites, who has proved a successful acquisition by the Central Pulse, is among six contenders for the goal circle alongside the Thunderbirds' grand final star Erin Bell, 37-year-old veteran Catherine Cox, experienced international Natalie Medhurst, the towering Caitlin Bassett and Tegan Caldwell.
Corletto, who missed the end of the Northern Mystics' disastrous campaign through injury, is in contention for a test recall although she faces stiff competition from Rebecca Bulley, Bianca Chatfield, Sharni Layton and von Bertouch's potential successor as captain, Laura Geitz.
Netball Australia has previously named a 22-player squad but Alexander favoured a streamlined group as she lays the groundwork for two important campaigns.
"Our focus is on winning the gold medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and retaining our world championship title at the 2015 World Netball Championships in Sydney so we have narrowed our focus to work with a high quality squad," she said.
Shooter Susan Pratley was a notable omission from the squad while Ashleigh Brazill, Chanel Gomes, Karyn Howarth, April Letton and Chelsea Pitman also have plenty to prove in next year's trans-Tasman championship.
The squad goes into camp in Canberra between July 31 and August 3 while Ravaillon, Simpson and Paige have another assignment, next month's world youth netball championships in Scotland.
Invercargill will host the opening instalment of the five-test Constellation Cup on September 15. It ends in Canberra in early October.
Australia: Caitlin Bassett, Erin Bell, Madison Browne, Rebecca Bulley, Tegan Caldwell, Bianca Chatfield, Julie Corletto, Catherine Cox, Laura Geitz, Kim Green, Paige Hadley, Renae Hallinan, Sharni Layton, Natalie Medhurst, Kim Ravaillion, Gabrielle Simpson, Caitlin Thwaites.