The Australian Netball Diamonds have arrived in London ready to take on the world’s best netball sides.
The road to the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games hits an important milestone for the Australian Diamonds as the squad has arrived in London ahead of the Quad Series that gets underway this weekend.
The Diamonds will come up against three of the top five netball nations in Netball England’s Roses, the New Zealand Silver Ferns and Netball South Africa’s Proteas at London’s Copper Box Arena from 16-20 January 2022.
The four sides will go head-to-head once, with a third and fourth place game and a final to decide the winner of the Quad Series trophy.
The Quad Series will be broadcast live and ad-free on Fox Sports and Kayo Freebies – the new home of netball.
The inaugural Quad Series was played in 2016 and since then, the Diamonds have won five of the six titles.
“I am incredibly excited to see how we can transfer what we worked on during the recent performance camp to the international stage,” Diamonds coach Stacey Marinkovich said.
“This is a fantastic opportunity to test ourselves against some of the biggest netball nations as we lead into an important year with the Commonwealth Games.
“It’s also great for our fans to see international netball back on the court, with the series being broadcast live and free on Fox Sports.”
Due to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, the Diamonds have barely trained in the last year and were defeated in their last international Test series against New Zealand in March 2021.
“This trip is just so vitally important,” Ryan told News Corp.
“It’s not so much about the series in its own right, but about that run in the preparation that we need to really hit before the Comm Games. It’s almost been 12 months since they last came together. And 12 months is a long time in a sporting life cycle. So them as individuals, it’s really critical to see how they’re tracking.”
It has been a journey for the Diamonds before even arriving in London.
The Australian squad were forced into a team bubble on Christmas Day and won’t be interacting with the opposition until game day.
With regular testing being undertaken and Diamonds players unable to venture around London.
Ryan said the players’ dedication proves how hungry they are to prove Australia is still on top of the netball world.
“They are unbelievably hungry; make no mistake,” she said.
“You can’t beat what that international exposure does and obviously, international success on the back of that we undoubtedly think is incredibly important [for the sport as a whole].“
With funding support through the Commonwealth Games Australia Green2Gold2Great program, the Diamonds have been able to take an extended squad of 15 athletes to London.
DIAMONDS TO TAKE ON WORLD’S BEST IN QUAD SERIES
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The Green2Gold2Great funding is part of the $13 million funding package announced by Commonwealth Games Australia in April 2019, to assist with preparations for the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
The funding seeks to support bespoke activities that would not be funded within the existing programs available to sports and Team Members and is designed to help achieve Australia’s aspiration of being the No.1 nation at the Games next year.
“We’re very grateful to have received support from Commonwealth Games Australia to take a full squad of 15 athletes to the Quad Series,” Marinkovich said.
“This will give our athletes exposure to international travel, training and competition ahead of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, as well as the opportunity to adapt to international styles, tactics, and the on and off court environments.
“Tour squad selection for the Quad Series will be announced in the coming days, off the back of a strong squad camp.”
Last week, Marinkovich spoke about the series and the value in seeing how their competition is tracking before the Birmingham Games.
With Marinkovich’s first experience in the top job the Diamonds’ defeat in the Constellation Cup, the head coach will be out to prove her ability in this series.
“We’ve had a really good focus around what we need to do and while it would be ideal to have the preparation against the other teams in the lead-up too,” she said last week.
“The exciting thing is now we will be able to see where we’re at and what gaps we need to fill going into the Commonwealth Games.”
The Diamonds will take on the New Zealand Silver Ferns on Sunday at 3.15am (AEDT).
Jaret O’Neill for Commonwealth Games Australia.