Anna Harrington / AAP News
The Diamonds will kick off their quest for Commonwealth Games netball redemption wary of the threat posed by “unorthodox” first-up opponents Barbados.
The 2018 silver medallists will challenge for gold in Birmingham but must first push through five pool games in seven days, starting at The National Exhibition Centre (NEC) on Friday (Saturday AEST).
Coach Stacey Marinkovich said unlike the familiar styles of England, New Zealand or Super Netball teams, Barbados would likely move the ball in a different way, making the game harder to control.
“Obviously, they’re different in the way that they play the game,” Marinkovich told reporters.
“It’s a bit unorthodox.
“I think that’s the part that challenges you the most, being able to execute your game plan, regardless of what’s happening around you.
“The countries that we haven’t played before or for a very long time, that’s exactly what we’re going out to (do), how can we adapt and shift at the moment to understand what they’re doing out on court.
“It’s a great challenge for us first up.”
Australia’s campaign is set against the backdrop of their heartbreaking gold-medal match loss to England on home soil in 2018.
Skipper Liz Watson has her sights set on coming out on top in Birmingham but noted she was one of just four players left from the Gold Coast team.
“It has been spoken about but I think it’s a different group, obviously, we’re over here now,” Watson said.
“We’re going to go for gold. There’s no shying away from that. We’ve spoken about that and I think no matter who it is, you want to be winning.
“So hopefully in that final match, we get there, whether it’s England, New Zealand, whoever it is, we want to go for that gold medal and we’re not afraid to talk about that.”
Australia will quickly back up by facing Scotland on Saturday, then play South Africa, Wales and Jamaica in the space of three days.
Marinkovich confirmed the punishing schedule would demand heavy squad rotation but was confident Australia’s depth and versatility would shine through.
Australia’s entire squad is available for selection, including gun defender Jo Weston.
Earlier this month, Weston tested positive for COVID-19 but has fully recovered and is fit to play.
“It didn’t go through the team, which is great, but she’s also come through pretty unscathed, which is great,” Marinkovich said.
Paige Hadley trained by herself on Thursday but there are no concerns from the coach over her fitness.