Stacey Marinkovich has today named her Australian squad to contest the Constellation Cup in October, and while the usual suspects have been selected, there are some key changes to the side that toured New Zealand for the delayed 2020 series in March.
Giants midcourter Amy Parmenter and West Coast Fever goal defence Sunday Aryang are new additions.
Steph Wood, Gretel Bueta, Ash Brazill and Maddy Turner have all made their way back into the squad.
The arrival of fresh faces comes after Australia’s Constellation Cup 3-1 series defeat to New Zealand in March — just the second time in 11 years the Silver Ferns have beaten the Diamonds.
Parmenter first broke onto the Super Netball scene in 2019, after spending two years with the Giants as a training partner. She quickly became a fan favourite, winning the Rising Star Award in her debut season.
Her ability to force turnovers at crucial periods has seen Parmenter lead the Giants in intercepts (25) and deflections (58) for the second consecutive year, stats that are usually dominated by circle defenders, not a wing defence.
Parmenter has therefore been an integral part of the side’s minor premiership-winning form, helping them enforce a strong defensive presence further up the court.
The other newcomer, Aryang, has been labelled a sneaky assassin for her swift and clean defensive work in front of Fever goal keeper Courtney Bruce.
At just 20 years of age, Aryang has also spent two years as a training partner with her Super Netball team, before being added to the extended squad for the condensed 2020 season.
The quiet defender earned a full-time senior playing contract this year and quickly became starting goal defence because of her consistent desire to hunt possession.
At the shooting end, the Diamonds will be pleased to have Wood (knee injury) and Bueta (pregnancy) back, after being forced to run with an inexperienced line-up in the March series.
Reconnecting with Caitlin Bassett, who has been playing domestic netball in New Zealand, will be like riding a bike for Bueta and Wood; given their long history combining with the former captain in the Australian circle.
The young guns that got game time during the previous tour – Cara Koenen, Kiera Austin and Sophie Garbin – proved themselves at international level, and although they were a little raw, have retained their spots in the extended squad.
Austin is currently on the road to recovery after rupturing her ACL in April, so she will not take part in this Constellation Cup series.
Similarly, incumbent captain Liz Watson has been listed. But given she has missed the entire domestic season recovering from urgent foot surgery, there is uncertainty whether she’ll be ready to play by October.
The squad has been named with an eye to the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games set to take place this time next year. Hence the inclusion of injured players.
In the short term, Watson’s fitness will still very much determine how the Diamonds midcourt takes shape, as the best wing attack in the game. This third of the court is the one that will cause Marinkovich the most selection headaches, given Australia has such great depth there right now.
Fans will be happy to see the return of Ash Brazill in this area, but she possesses a similar set of skills to Parmenter, given both players like to go out for a flyer in the wing defence position.
There is also Paige Hadley and Jamie-Lee Price to consider for that bib. With the versatile Hadley able to sit across centre, wing attack and wing defence with equal effectiveness and Price’s physical prowess and growing ability to read the game an asset in that position.
It seems these players have squeezed specialist wing defence and Firebirds captain Gabi Simpson out of the side, having occupied that role on and off for a number of years.
At the back of the court, it will disappoint fans to know that April Brandley, in career-best form, has decided not to make herself available for selection as she focuses on her young family.
But Marinkovich is still spoilt for choice with the other defensive options in her squad, knowing Jo Weston, Courtney Bruce and Sarah Klau have represented Australia plenty of times before.
Meanwhile, Maddy Turner debuted for the side back in 2019 and forms a really nice partnership with Klau at the NSW Swifts, and potential debutants Kim Jenner and Aryang will definitely push their more experienced counterparts for a spot on the starting team.
The squad will meet in camp during September to start their preparations, with the location to be determined at a closer date.
Australian Diamonds 2021/22 squad:
Jess Anstiss (West Coast Fever)
Sunday Aryang** (West Coast Fever)
Kiera Austin (Giants Netball)
Caitlin Bassett (Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic)
Ash Brazill (Collingwood Magpies)
Courtney Bruce (West Coast Fever)
Gretel Bueta (Queensland Firebirds)
Verity Charles (West Coast Fever)
Sophie Garbin (NSW Swifts)
Paige Hadley (NSW Swifts)
Kim Jenner* (Queensland Firebirds)
Sarah Klau (NSW Swifts)
Cara Koenen (Sunshine Coast Lighnting)
Kate Moloney (Melbourne Vixens)
Amy Parmenter** (Giants Netball)
Jamie-Lee Price (Giants Netball)
Maddy Proud* (NSW Swifts)
Maddy Turner (NSW Swifts)
Liz Watson (Melbourne Vixens)
Jo Weston (Melbourne Vixens)
Steph Wood (Sunshine Coast Lightning)
* yet to debut
** first Australian Diamonds squad