FOUR NSW Swifts players – including Quaama's own Susan Pratley - have been rewarded for their excellent ANZ Championship form with selection in the 2014 Australian Diamonds squad.
Pratley, Kimberlee Green, Sharni Layton and Caitlin Thwaites were on Tuesday morning announced in Lisa Alexander’s 18-player squad to contest the Commonwealth Games selection camp in Canberra next month.
NSW Swifts head coach Rob Wright expressed his delight for these four players and said their selection not only reflects their own personal form, but the strong start the Swifts have enjoyed so far in 2014.
“All four players thoroughly deserve their selection in this year’s Diamonds squad,” Wright said.
“Their performances on court and work ethic off it have been outstanding, and this recognition is just reward for their efforts.
“As a club, it is wonderful acknowledgement for the results we are producing as a collective unit to have four athletes picked in the national squad,” Wright said.
For NSW Swifts’ captain and the incumbent Diamonds’ vice-captain Kimberlee Green, selection in the 2014 Commonwealth Games team would see her compete in Scotland, a country where her mother Denyse Langford won multiple medals at the 1970 Commonwealth Games held in Edinburgh.
“It’s always an honour to be named in any Diamonds squad, but to now have the opportunity to be selected in the Team for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games makes it even more special,” Green said.
“This squad must have been so hard to pick, particularly with so many midcourters putting their hand up with strong performances in the ANZ Championship season.
“As captain of the NSW Swifts, I’m proud to see three teammates have also been selected in this squad, and hopefully this is a reflection of the hard work and results the entire roster has produced so far this year,” she said.
After missing out on Diamonds selection in 2013, shooter Susan Pratley has been rewarded for her stunning performances during the opening seven rounds of the 2014 ANZ Championship, and hopes her trans-Tasman efforts will see her add to her 54 Test caps.
“I’m excited to be back in the Diamonds squad and to be in the mix for future team selection,” Pratley said.
“There is no greater honour than representing your country, and it has always been a goal of mine to do so again.
“I’ve worked very hard on all aspects of my game during the off-season, and have been really pleased with my form for the NSW Swifts this year.
“For now my focus remains on helping the Swifts secure a finals berth, and hopefully a by-product our team’s success is a seat on the plane to Glasgow,” Pratley said.
Pratley’s partner in the Swifts’ shooting circle, Caitlin Thwaites, has also been selected in the 18-player squad.
Having spent the past three seasons with the Central Pulse in Wellington (New Zealand), the 27-year-old made the move to the Swifts to help realise her green and gold dream.
“I’m thrilled to be named in the Diamonds squad and to be in contention for Commonwealth Games selection,” said Thwaites, who has four Test caps to her name.
“I feel the move to the NSW Swifts during the off-season has aided my Diamonds ambitions, and I’m now playing a style of netball which complements that of the national team.
“The Swifts have had great start to the season, and hopefully we can continue to build upon on the combinations we are forming to achieve both domestic and international success in 2014.”
The NSW Swifts other major off-season recruit, dynamic defender Sharni Layton, has retained her position in the squad and will be looking to improve upon her 12 Test caps later in the year.
However, the 26-year-old said for now all her efforts are focused on helping the Swifts go as far as they can in the 2014 ANZ Championship.
“I’m super excited and grateful to be selected in the 2014 Australian Diamonds squad,” Layton said.
“The standard of the ANZ Championship continues to get better with every year, and it’s a privilege to be selected from such a talented pool of defenders.
“We are continuing to build our strength and culture here at the NSW Swifts, and it's a credit to everyone involved at the club to have four players named in the Diamonds squad.
"Due to the timing of the Commonwealth Game, it is unusual to have the international selections midway through the domestic season.
“So as much it’s an honour to be selected in the Diamonds squad, for the time being we are still wearing Swifts’ Red and this is where our focus lies," Layton said.
Seeking Australia’s first Commonwealth Games netball gold medal since 2002 in Manchester, Australian Diamonds’ coach Lisa Alexander will name her 12-player team at the conclusion of the three-day selection camp at the Australian Institute of Sport from May 5-7.
“We’re very pleased that we’ve got a strong 18-player squad and in general they’ve all been in consistent and solid form and doing what we want them to be doing at this stage which is terrific, particularly those who have been re-selected into the squad,” Alexander said.
“It’s all about who we believe have the best chances of selection at this stage through their performances in the ANZ Championship, plus past international considerations, and execution of the personal performance plans that we set at the start of the year.”
The squad will initially contest Commonwealth Games selection camp next month before regrouping later in the year for Australian Diamonds selection ahead of September and October’s international Test series.
Australia opens its 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games account against Wales on July 24 ahead of its remaining pool matches against England, Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago and South Africa.
2014 Australian Diamonds Squad:
(ANZ Championship team/state of origin)
Karyn BAILEY (Melbourne Vixens/NT)
Caitlin BASSETT (West Coast Fever/WA)
Erin BELL (Adelaide Thunderbirds/NSW)
Rebecca BULLEY (Adelaide Thunderbirds/VIC)
Tegan CALDWELL (Melbourne Vixens/VIC)
Bianca CHATFIELD (Melbourne Vixens/VIC)
Julie CORLETTO (Northern Mystics/VIC)
Laura GEITZ (Queensland Firebirds/QLD)
Kimberlee GREEN (NSW Swifts/ NSW)
Renae HALLINAN (Adelaide Thunderbirds/VIC)
Sharni LAYTON (NSW Swifts/VIC)
Natalie MEDHURST (West Coast Fever/SA)
Susan PRATLEY (NSW Swifts/NSW)
Kim RAVAILLION (Queensland Firebirds/NSW)
Madi ROBINSON (nee BROWNE) (Melbourne Vixens/VIC)
Gabrielle SIMPSON (Queensland Firebirds/NSW)
Caitlin THWAITES (NSW Swifts/VIC)
Elizabeth WATSON (Melbourne Vixens/VIC)