Diamonds up against it for NZ netball tour

·3-min read

New Diamonds coach Stacey Marinkovich says her team's compromised preparation for the four-match Constellation Cup series against New Zealand could end up being a boost for their World Cup and Commonwealth Games title hopes.

The Diamonds will take part in a three-day training camp this week before flying to NZ on Monday, where they will undergo 14 days of hotel quarantine before the series starts.

The exact details of what they will be allowed to do while in quarantine remains up in the air, but Marinkovich said team training sessions were unlikely to be allowed until day five, six or seven.

Players will spend most of the time confined to their hotel rooms.

The series opener is on March 2 - the first day the Diamonds will be out of quarantine.

Marinkovich concedes the limited preparation will hurt her team's chances of being at their absolute best, but she's embracing the challenge.

"I'd be lying if I said it was an equal playing ground," Marinkovich said.

"There are challenges. We might be together I guess in the same place for a period of time, but our ability to interact with each other and train is limited.

"But that's what we take on. This might be what we have to face when we go into a Commonwealth Games or a World Cup.

"So it gives us an opportunity to see how it is, see what we can achieve in this period of time, and that the girls learn to adapt and prepare in a different way."

Steph Wood (knee) and Emily Mannix (hip) are sitting out the tour to focus on recovery from post-season surgeries, while Gretel Bueta is on maternity leave.

Star goalshooter Caitlin Bassett was included in the 16-woman squad despite quitting Super Netball ranks last year to join NZ outfit Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic.

Bassett joined the NZ league after being largely stuck on the bench at the Giants following the introduction of the two-point shot in the Australian competition.

Marinkovich wasn't worried about the lack of game time Bassett had in 2020.

"When you look at the performances Caitlin put out on court, the quality is still there," Marinkovich said.

"She's a high-volume shooter and definitely a high shooting percentage.

"It's what you do when you get those opportunities. I know she's been working in this off-season to make sure that she's in good shape coming into camp."

The build-up to Marinkovich's first series as Diamonds coach has been far from smooth, with the West Coast Fever salary-cap scandal casting a dark shadow over Australian netball.

Marinkovich, who is also coach of the Fever but was not involved in the salary-cap rort, said the ordeal had taken an emotional toll on her, but she was now fully focused on the Diamonds.

DIAMONDS SQUAD: Jess Anstiss, Kiera Austin, Caitlin Bassett, Courtney Bruce, Verity Charles, Sophie Garbin, Paige Hadley, Kimberley Jenner, Cara Koenen, Sarah Klau, Jamie-Lee Price, Maddy Proud, Kate Moloney, Gabi Simpson, Liz Watson, Jo Weston.