The Courier-Mail



QUEENSLAND Firebird Gretel Tippett has up to four games to play herself into the Diamonds.

Fresh from signing a fouryear contract extension, Australia coach Lisa Alexander said the Queensland­er could play herself into the World Cup team during the ANZ Championsh­ip finals.

Tippett’s breakthrou­gh season will continue at the Brisbane Convention Centre tomorrow when the Firebirds meet the Southern Steel.

The Queensland­er was invited to train with the preliminar­y national squad at a camp this month but Alexander is considerin­g adding players to the selection mix.

Goal attack is an area of concern for the Diamonds, with few standouts commanding attention to support champion Natalie Medhurst.

Neither Adelaide’s Erin Bell nor Melbourne’s Tegan Philip have performed consistent­ly, and both will miss the Championsh­ip finals.

Tippett’s movement, creativity and defence have caught the eye of Alexander and she only needs to improve her shooting accuracy to push for a shock call-up.

Her Firebirds have a potential four games remaining if they reach the grand final, leaving Tippett a golden opportunit­y to dazzle selectors.

“We’re continuing to look at Gretel,” Alexander said.

“Her shooting is not quite there yet but that’s not the only statistic I’m looking at.”

Australia and Queensland captain Laura Geitz, centre Kim Ravaillion, Medhurst and her West Coast Fever teammate Caitlin Bassett are among few certain selections in the team for the World Cup in Sydney in August.

The loss of Madi Robinson to a knee injury continues to trouble the national coach, who has a seemingly limitless array of midcourt options.

NSW Swift Paige Hadley was overlooked for the preliminar­y squad but has played herself back into the reckoning for her ability to cover centre and wing attack.

Netball Australia yesterday extended Alexander’s contract until the end of 2019.

The four-year deal was a huge pat on the back for the Diamonds boss, who presided over last year’s Commonweal­th Games victory and is on track for a successful world title defence.

“I’m chuffed they’ve shown such faith in me,” Alexander said.

“It’s important to keep the ship on course.”

Part of Alexander’s role will be to assist with a succession plan to steer the team after the 2019 World Cup in Liverpool.

 ??  ?? Picture: Mark Calleja
Picture: Mark Calleja

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