By David McPherson
Australian Netball coach Lisa Alexander is expecting strong competition on the Gold Coast next year as the path ahead for the Commonwealth Games became clearer on Wednesday.
The Diamonds drew pool A alongside Jamaica, South Africa, Barbados, Fiji and Northern Ireland as the International Netball Federation revealed the schedule for GC2018.
Alexander said the draw was of little consequence when the top nations in the world competed.
“There is no ‘draw of death’ – it will be plain, hard work in both pools,” she said.
“It’s always going to be a difficult road to the Finals, as we are playing in a competition with the twelve best netballing nations in the world.”
Australia avoided second and third ranked New Zealand and England, with the top six teams allocated their pool in snaking order.
“Both pools will have their tricky moments in the preliminary rounds – England playing New Zealand will be tough, Australia playing Jamaica will be tough, and Australia playing Fiji will also be tough with former Australian captain Vicki Wilson coaching the side,” Alexander said.
The Diamonds will be looking to defend their 2014 Commonwealth Games victory in Glasgow, where they knocked off the New Zealand 58 to 40.
Australia and New Zealand have dominated the sport at Commonwealth Games level, facing off in every final since netball was introduced in Kuala Lumpur in 1998.
The Silver Ferns had won two golds in succession prior to Glasgow. The gold medal tally now stands at two to three in the Diamond’s favour.
The bronze medal has gone to either England or Jamaica in all five Commonwealth Games tournaments.
GOLDOC CEO Mark Peters said the standard of competition would be high.
“Featuring the top-12 ranked teams in the world, we know that spectators are going to witness an outstanding level of competition during the GC2018 netball competition.”
“We have already seen strong public demand for tickets to both the GC2018 Netball preliminaries and finals and today’s draw ceremony provides spectators with further detail about which nations they are going to be cheering on in April 2018.”
The preliminary round will be played at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre from April 5 to 12, while the finals matches will be played at the Coomera Indoor Sports Centre on April 14 and 15.
|Pool A||Pool B|
|1 Australia||2 New Zealand|
|4 Jamaica||3 England|
|5 South Africa||6 Malawi|
|8 Barbados||7 Wales|
|9 Fiji||10 Scotland|
|12 Northern Ireland||11 Uganda|