Melbourne Vixens defender Joanna Weston is the bolter selection in Australia’s first post-World Cup netball squad – one of a quartet of uncapped players.
Coach Lisa Alexander also called up Queensland Firebirds young guns Gretel Tippett and Gabi Simpson, and West Coast Fever captain Ashleigh Brazill for expected debuts in next month’s four-Test Constellation Cup series against New Zealand.
Alexander named an extended 15-player squad, including nine of Australia’s triumphant 12-player Netball World Cup line-up, that defeated the Silver Ferns 58-55 in last month’s final in Sydney.
To help cater for the retirements of the other three – defenders Julie Corletto and Rebecca Bulley, and vice-captain and midcourter Kim Green – the coach also recalled defenders Clare McMeniman and April Letton.
For Brazill, the opportunity comes three years after a knee injury prevented the 25-year-old midcourter from making her international debut.
“It was awesome to see the girls do so well at the World Cup and it just made me more determined to be a part of that success,” Brazill said.
Alexander said Tippett and Simpson were both rewarded for impressive breakout seasons with trans-Tasman champions the Firebirds, while Weston has been staking her claim as a future Diamonds defender at the Vixens alongside England skipper and goalkeeper Geva Mentor and now-retired Diamonds defender Bianca Chatfield.
It makes a good week for the Tippett family with Gretel’s older brother, Sydney Swans star Kurt Tippett, preparing to play his 150th AFL game on Saturday against Gold Coast at the SCG.
“Such is the depth in Australian netball, the new inclusions were unlucky to miss out on Diamonds selection for the Netball World Cup,” Alexander said.
“But we’re excited to be able to further develop our squad and team to begin the new cycle and defend our Commonwealth Games and Netball World Cup gold medals.”
Alexander said she was thrilled all remaining nine World Cup stars, including captain Laura Geitz, were available for the Constellation Cup starting in Christchurch on October 20.
Along with Weston, Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic defender Kristiana Manu’a and Vixens midcourter Liz Watson have been elevated into the extended 2015-16 Diamonds squad and are available for future international selection, including January’s tour of England.
AUSTRALIAN DIAMONDS 2015 CONSTELLATION CUP SQUAD: Caitlin Bassett (West Coast Fever), Ashleigh Brazill (West Coast Fever), Erin Bell (Adelaide Thunderbirds), Laura Geitz (Queensland Firebirds), Paige Hadley (NSW Swifts), Renae Ingles (nee Hallinan) (Adelaide Thunderbirds), Sharni Layton (NSW Swifts), April Letton (West Coast Fever), Clare McMeniman (Queensland Firebirds), Natalie Medhurst (West Coast Fever), Kim Ravaillion (Queensland Firebirds), Gabi Simpson (Queensland Firebirds), Caitlin Thwaites (NSW Swifts), Gretel Tippett (Queensland Firebirds), Joanna Weston (Melbourne Vixens)