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THE AUS­TRALIAN DI­A­MONDS MID COURT STAR TALKS ABOUT HER MOVE TO MEL­BOURNE AND COLLINGWOOD’ S NET BALL OUT­FIT, THE EARLY RE­TURNS FROM THE NEW SU­PER COM­PE­TI­TION AND A BIG PRO­GRAM AHEAD FOR THE ALLCONQUERING NA­TIONAL SIDE.

Inside Sport - - EDITOR'S LETTER - – Jeff Cen­ten­era

You’ve come off the in­au­gu­ral sea­son of Su­per Net­ball with a new club, and now you have the Di­a­monds’ matches ahead. Is there a tran­si­tion to make to in­ter­na­tional duty?

With the sea­son I had this year, we didn’t make it that far. We made the first fi­nal and got knocked out. It’s kind of for­eign to me, hav­ing a three­week break.

You’re too used to get­ting to grand fi­nals.

Yeah [laughs]. Prob­a­bly the big­gest break I’ve had in a long time; I’ve ac­tu­ally had time to re­flect and re­lax a bit. Do my own train­ing. I’m kind of pumped to get back into net­ball and re­ally tackle the in­ter­na­tional sea­son.

You char­ac­terised your move to the Collingwood Mag­pies from the Queens­land Fire­birds as a way of test­ing your own bound­aries. What sur­prised you about the move?

The de­ci­sion at the time was very dif­fi­cult to make, hav­ing the bond with the girls and the suc­cess that we had. But I think, as an ath­lete, my game was plateau­ing. I had to chal­lenge my­self, take a risk. Be com­fort­able feel­ing un­com­fort­able again. That led me to my de­ci­sion to move down to the Mag­pies, and re­ally test my­self as an ath­lete. We’ve only got a ca­reer for so long, and I want to make the most of it. It hasn’t been all smooth sail­ing; it’s been a bit of a roller­coaster. But in say­ing that, I’ve grown so much as an ath­lete and as a per­son. You can get so caught up in the net­ball bub­ble – if it’s not go­ing well, you can go down­hill. If you’ve got life sorted – and Mel­bourne’s a per­fect place to be a hu­man, there’s al­ways some­thing hap­pen­ing – get­ting that bal­ance and en­joy­ing life off the court, ver­sus en­joy­ing on the court as well, is vi­tal. I can def­i­nitely say my net­ball wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be. But I’m never go­ing to give up. I’m al­ways go­ing to strive for the very best.

There was a lot of in­trigue with these new Su­per fran­chises and how they’d op­er­ate. How much cross­over did you have with the foot­ball club?

They had ob­vi­ously never shared with girls, so that was in­ter­est­ing. We were go­ing to their, kind of, home. But I think they en­joyed hav­ing us there. They saw the way we trained, the way we car­ried our­selves, the way we speak. I think they learned a lot from what we do, and we learned a lot from what they do – even in train­ing, how they move the ball. We had one of the ruck­men coaches come in and teach us how to hold off a de­fender.

We’re grow­ing to­gether. It was re­ally fun, the guys were nice. We go and sup­port them when they’re play­ing, and they come and sup­port us.

Was there an “up­grade” in pro­fes­sion­al­ism with the com­ing of Su­per Net­ball? Was there a tan­gi­ble change you could feel?

I don’t think money in­spired us to be more pro­fes­sional at all. Net­ballers as ath­letes are very driven from a young age, which is why there’s so many great girls out there play­ing. We’ve earned what we’re get­ting now, which is a credit to ev­ery­one be­fore us and the way they taught us as young ath­letes. Hope­fully, grow­ing the sport, in ten years’ time, the girls who are play­ing up there are earn­ing even more. We’re all in it to­gether.

Was there some­thing new about the com­pe­ti­tion that you ap­pre­ci­ated?

The crowds, the com­pet­i­tive­ness of it all, stepped up a lot. Ev­ery game was so close, it was just awe­some to watch. That was great for the fans, and great for the sport again. Hope­fully, it’s just go­ing to grow.

You were one of the play­ers who pointed out that the comp would drive the al­ready in­cred­i­ble stan­dard of Aus­tralian net­ball up­ward. With a Di­a­monds cam­paign com­ing up, how do you as­sess that? Also: with a Com­mon­wealth Games at home, how im­por­tant is that?

It’s gone up an­other level. There was about 13 games where there was one goal in it. Ev­ery game was like the grand fi­nal. Gosh, imag­ine next year ... It’s only go­ing to get bet­ter. Be­ing in Aus­tralia, you want to do Aus­tralia proud. It’s what we strive for as ath­letes. And we know that Aus­tralians love to tally up those Games medals ...

"We’ve earned­what we’re get­ting now,which is a credit to ev­ery­one be­fore us."

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