WHAT NOW FOR AUSSIE NETBALL?
The last we saw of the Australian Diamonds, they were a tearful mess, grieving for the gold that slipped away after England – England! – potted the winning goal as the final whistle blew in the Commonwealth Games final. The post mortems started almost immediately. Australia’s Super Netball, with its no limit import policy, was sharpening the ranks of overseas players who’ve benefited from the weekly exposure to the world’s toughest domestic competition. Australian netball commentator Sue Gaudion says exposure to Australia’s elite competition week-to-week has taken away the one thing Australia always had going for it: its fear factor. “Players from other countries are now teammates or opponents who they see weekly,” she says. “They know each other, often they’re friends. That’s changed the dynamic.” “But our world game has to be better than a two horse race. What it means is we have the world’s best in our own backyard. That’s a good thing but there were always potential negatives and now we’ve seen it.” The next we’ll see of the Diamonds is in the Quad Cup, contested by Australia, New Zealand, England and South Africa, in September followed by the Constellation Cup series against the Kiwis in October. But they will all be preliminary to the Netball World Cup in Liverpool in July next year. “The irony is that all the pressure in 2019 will be on England,” Gausion says. “I’d expect the Australians to come in more aggressive than they’ve ever been. They know they’ll have to be better, to step up. ”