Commonwealth Games Australia today announced the 12 athletes in the Diamonds 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games team, including five Commonwealth Games gold medallists.
Current Diamonds captain Caitlin Bassett and vice-captain Gabi Simpson will lead the Australian side for the Games.
Laura Geitz joins the Diamonds for the first time since the 2015 Constellation Cup, after taking the 2016 and 2017 international season off for the birth of her first child.
Defensive trio April Brandley, Courtney Bruce, Jo Weston, midcourters Gabi Simpson and Liz Watson, and shooter Stephanie Wood have earnt their maiden Commonwealth Games selections.
Five members of the 2014 team who broke Australia’s Commonwealth Games netball gold medal drought return to the side; Caitlin Bassett, Laura Geitz, Kim Ravaillion, Madi Robinson and Caitlin Thwaites.
Veteran shooter Susan Pettitt has also been named, after missing selection for the 2014 Commonwealth Games and 2015 Netball World Cup teams. Pettitt holds two Commonwealth Games silver medals from 2006 and 2010.
Commonwealth Games Australia Team Executive Member and former Australian Netball Captain Kathryn Harby-Williams drew upon her knowledge of the Games and commended the announced athletes.
“I know how hard it is to make an Australian Netball Commonwealth Games Team myself, so I wholeheartedly congratulate the girls on this outstanding achievement,” Harby-Williams said.
“We are announcing new athletes onto the Australian Team everyday and with only 57 days to go until the Games I welcome these 12 athletes to the Team.”
Head coach Lisa Alexander said it was the toughest selection nomination she has had to make, alongside National Selectors Anne Sargeant and Michelle Wilkins.
“It was an enormously difficult selection, there’s no other way to say it,” explained Alexander.
“What we have done is try to pick a team on form, on who is performing now. It’s been tough, as we have had so many great performers for us.”
“What made the decision that much more complex is that we’ve also had to consider the ‘what ifs’ that you must be prepared for in a tournament. We needed to ensure that we had flexibility within the team, through different combinations and the ability for athletes to play multiple positions if required,” she said.
“I’d like to extend my thanks to Anne and Michelle for their diligence and commitment to the national program, and the selection process.”
The Diamonds team is evenly split, with half the team demonstrating experience at marquee events such as the Commonwealth Games and Netball World Cup, whilst half are yet to debut in a major tournament.
“As a consequence of picking on form, there is a very good blend of youth and experience,” explained head coach Lisa Alexander.
“We have athletes in each area of the court who know what it takes to win a tournament at the highest level.
“We are very happy with the overall balance and versatility of the group,” said Alexander.
Australia opens its 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games campaign against Northern Ireland on Thursday 5 April before its remaining pool matches against Barbados (6 April), South Africa (8 April), Fiji (9 April) and Jamaica (11 April).
Diamonds Commonwealth Games Team
Name – test caps (state of origin/2018 Suncorp Super Netball team)
• Caitlin Bassett (captain) – 76 caps (Western Australia, Sunshine Coast Lightning)
• April Brandley – 21 caps (New South Wales, Collingwood Magpies)
• Courtney Bruce -10 caps (Western Australia, West Coast Fever)
• Laura Geitz – 64 caps (Queensland, Queensland Firebirds)
• Susan Pettitt – 64 caps (New South Wales, GIANTS Netball)
• Kim Ravaillion – 50 caps (New South Wales, Collingwood Magpies)
• Madi Robinson – 54 caps (Victoria, Collingwood Magpies)
• Gabi Simpson (vice captain) – 25 caps (New South Wales, Queensland Firebirds)
• Caitlin Thwaites – 34 caps (Victoria, Collingwood Magpies)
• Liz Watson – 15 caps (Victoria, Melbourne Vixens)
• Jo Weston – 10 caps (Victoria, Melbourne Vixens)
• Stephanie Wood – 8 caps (Queensland, Sunshine Coast Lightning)
• The team has 431 combined test caps, with an average of 36 tests per athlete.
• Five members of the team have played 50 tests or more.
• Six members of the team have Commonwealth Games experience, with five gold medallists from the 2014 games (Caitlin Bassett, Laura Geitz, Kim Ravaillion, Madi Robinson, Caitlin Thwaites).
• Susan Pettitt holds two Commonwealth Games silver medals from 2006 and 2010, Laura Geitz was also in the 2010 team.
• Five members of the team hold Netball World Cup gold (2015 – Caitlin Bassett, Laura Geitz, Kim Ravaillion, Caitlin Thwaites, 2011 – Susan Pettitt), with Bassett and Geitz with back-to-back gold in 2011 and 2015.
• Six members of the team have not played in a Commonwealth Games or Netball World Cup (April Brandley, Courtney Bruce, Gabi Simpson, Liz Watson, Jo Weston, Stephanie Wood).
• Liz Watson is the youngest member of the team at 23 years of age (born 30 March 1994), whilst Susan Pettitt is the oldest member of the team at 33 years of age (born 23 March 1984).
• Three athletes have debuted since January 2016; Courtney Bruce (August 2017), Stephanie Wood (August 2016) and Liz Watson (January 2016).
Tickets for the Netball competition at GC2018 are exhausted, however sports fans have plenty of other great opportunities to catch the fantastic action of the Games if they get in quick.
There are around 180,000 tickets remaining for the Games. They include (amongst others) tickets for athletics finals, badminton, hockey, lawn bowls, squash, weightlifting, wrestling and closing ceremony. Tickets can be purchased on a first-come basis at gc2018.com/tickets