Star duo’s return adds polish
Sharni Layton and Laura Geitz both made long-awaited returns to the Diamonds camp this week as they face a steep challenge in making last-minute bids for Commonwealth Games selection next month.
Layton stepped away from netball in July because of exhaustion, and Geitz is returning after a year of maternity leave. Both players joined the national squad in Canberra on Thursday for a three-day camp at the AIS.
Head coach Lisa Alexander said she was glad to have an injection of extra knowledge and experience, and that the two keepers had been performing well in their restricted minutes of match simulation.
“I was really pleased that they’ve been able to put themselves out there on court and hold their own. That’s a good sign,” Alexander said.
According to Alexander, Geitz’s year away has left her feeling “a bit like a rookie” this week as she tries to catch up on the team’s new coaching systems.
Diamonds vice-captain Gabi Simpson has watched Geitz’s comeback closely as the two prepare for the next Super Netball season in Queensland, and is already seeing glimpses of the goalkeeper’s best play.
According to Simpson, there has been no awkwardness from the former national captain as she adjusts to a reduced role in the Diamonds camp.
“She is finding her feet and working on things individually, but she still brings that great leadership and presence on court which is so helpful for the team.”
Neither Geitz nor Layton will join the Diamonds departing tomorrow for the Quad Series against England, South Africa and New Zealand.
The tournament will be the Diamonds’ final set of matches before they begin their gold medal defence on the Gold Coast.
Alexander’s selection panel has proved over the past 12 months that senior players have no retainer on a Diamonds dress, dropping Madi Robinson from the team and not even including goaler Nat Medhurst in the extended squad.
The absence of Layton and Geitz last year allowed young West Coast Fever goal keeper Courtney Bruce to stake her claim on the position with a series of impressive performances.