Diamonds excited but prepared for the challenge ahead

SPEAKING a few weeks ago ahead of her and her team’s journey to the World Cup in South Africa, Diamonds coach Stacey Marinkovich was fully aware of the challenges she and her team face at this year’s tournament, which starts tonight Australian time.

Marinkovich said that they have not used the heartbreaking loss to New Zealand from the last World Cup as motivation.

“I think it’s a completely different group and I think we’re really focused on what our contribution looks like to the Diamonds legacy and the sustained success that the group has had,” she said. “So I think for us it’s more what is unfinished for us, and that is that World Cup title and that is where our focus will be.”

Marinkovich also said that the Diamonds had to make sure that their feet are firmly on the ground.

“We’re going to have to be at our best, so we’re really focusing on our performance to play our Diamonds brand of netball against anyone anywhere and I guess it is to combat anything that comes towards us,” she said.

She also highlighted the mentality of the entire squad of 15 not just the 12 that will take the court, using Kate Moloney as the example.

“I think the thing with this group is that it’s a real squad mentality,” she said. “So I think when you watch the squad train I don’t think unless you knew you wouldn’t know who our 12 was, I think that’s the beauty of it. People don’t need titles to have a voice in our group, and they bring their leadership and experience and they’re really committed to driving the standard of performance. So they’ve got a particular role to play and Kate is embracing that to make sure the team that steps out on court is going to be in the best condition it can be.”

There was also excitement in the voice of star midcourter Ash Brazill when she spoke before the team left for the tournament.

Despite her years of experience, this year’s tournament will be Brazill’s first World Cup and she admitted that before she was called up for this year’s tournament she was worried she may never get to go to a World Cup before she retired.

“I think when you don’t get the phone call four/five years ago for Comm Games and World Cup, I remember speaking to my wife and I was like ‘that’s it, everything I’ve wanted, it’s never going to happen’ and trying to find I guess happiness in what you’ve done and as a player who has never won a premiership either it’s like ‘what have I achieved?’ Last year when I got the phone call to make Comm Games I was beside myself because I was really believed that was it, and then this year around I think it’s just nice relief. I think for me personally announcing my retirement, this has just been a bonus,” she said.

She also spoke glowingly of Marinkovich, with the pair sharing a particularly close bond formed over many years.

“I started my career with Stace at Fever, she was my assistant coach for three years and then I had her as head coach for two so we’ve got our own little journey together,” she said. To be able to reconnect in the green and gold is something special and she’s my coach but she’s my friend for life so it’s really nice to have that relationship with her.”

Brazill is in a unique situation amongst her fellow Diamonds with a second elite sporting career on her plate at the moment, but she said she has got it all worked out in terms of juggling the demands of both at once.

“I’m super lucky” she said.

“I’m under a really good club with Collingwood and they know that for me netball has always been a goal for me ever since I was like a five year old kid and this is what I’ve dreamt about for so long, so they’ve literally just put the breaks on me with footy and I’ve just been able to concentrate on netball.

“I come back straight after Worlds and all the girls will have little holidays and I’m straight back into it. I’ve got three weeks to get ready for round one, I don’t know if I’ll be picked for round one but as an athletes you always want to be able to do everything so I’m going to come in and I’m super excited for footy to start.”

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