Caitlin Thwaites faces fight for Central squad

HAMISH BIDWELL
Last updated 05:00 20/07/2013
Caitlin Thwaites
UNSURE FUTURE: Robyn Broughton and Australia coach Lisa Alexander appear to feel differently about Caitlin Thwaites.

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Caitlin Thwaites might have been good enough to be picked in the Australian Diamonds' squad, but she's not guaranteed of a place at the Central Pulse.

The 26-year-old Victorian import has spent three trans-Tasman Netball League seasons at the Pulse, in which time she's consistently been among the team's top two or three performers.

But Thwaites said she has not been given a firm contract offer by the Pulse for next year, while re-signed coach Robyn Broughton didn't give the goal shoot a ringing endorsement during an interview with The Dominion Post on Thursday.

Netball makes life unnecessarily difficult for itself by, almost, solely signing people to one-season deals. All that does is unsettle players on an annual basis and Thwaites is definitely in that boat.

"I'm still just waiting to hear back from people. I haven't been offered anything from anybody, so I'm just playing the waiting game," Thwaites said.

"It definitely is a nervous time, especially with all the rumours about Irene [van Dyk] wanting to come back to Wellington and I'm kind of like 'well where does that leave me?'

"It's a nerve-wracking time and we just have to deal with it and get through it."

Thwaites was part of the 2009 league-winning Melbourne Vixens team, but has had trouble cracking the Australian market since, with Jamaicans occupying the goal shoot spots at two franchises.

She might find herself in a similar predicament here, with Broughton indicating that Paula Griffin is now a form option to start at goal shoot for the Pulse next year.

Griffin was a dismal failure at goal attack in 2012, which Broughton readily admits. But Broughton now has full confidence in Griffin's ability to play at goal shoot, despite starting Thwaites there in all but one match this season.

Thwaites was so effective for the Pulse that she earned a spot in Australia's 17-player squad to attend their July 31-August 3 final selection camp in Canberra.

The Diamonds traditionally assemble 22 players for the camp but have cut that ahead of naming the final team to meet New Zealand and Malawi in test matches this year.

Six shooters have been selected in the 17, with Thwaites and Caitlin Bassett the two that play goal shoot fulltime. Cath Cox has been a goal shoot for the majority of her test career, but is goal attack next to Bassett in the West Coast Fever team.

Thwaites had to meet some fitness-related targets to get this far and has done a huge amount of conditioning work since the end of the Pulse season.

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"I've just been attempting to train my butt off, literally," she joked.

She's also been playing club netball for Wellington East, ahead of flying back to Australia on Wednesday.

The Pulse have an end-of-season function on Tuesday, by which time captain Katrina Grant might have re-signed. With Broughton safely secured, the Pulse will stick to their established policy of sewing up Grant next and then putting contracts in front of the other 11 players they want. 

- Fairfax Media

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