How Diamonds can shine against Kiwis
NETBALL great Laura Geitz says Australia's recent Quad Series victory buried some demons from the Commonwealth Games campaign.
But the former Diamonds skipper believes Australia needs to use the valuable momentum from the Quad Series to counter a resurgent New Zealand in the Constellation Cup.
The Diamonds and Silver Ferns meet in the first of four Constellation Cup Tests at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre this Sunday before the series moves to Townsville next Wednesday and then over to New Zealand.
Following the cluster of international retirements of Diamonds stalwarts Geitz, Susan Pettitt, Madi Robinson and Sharni Layton, Australia produced confidence-boosting wins over England, South Africa and New Zealand in the Quad Series.
Geitz said lifting the silverware would have been a sweet feeling after losing the gold medal game at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast earlier this year.
However, there is no time to bask in the success as the Silver Ferns program - that was on its knees after losing to Malawi on the Gold Coast and failed to win a Commonwealth Games medal - is on the mend under newly appointed head coach Noeline Taurua.
"I thought the Diamonds did really, really well (in the Quad Series). There was an opportunity for the girls to be blooded at different tournaments along the way but this was the first time that they had to stand up without those more experienced girls there,'' Geitz said.
"It would have been a relief to Lisa (Alexander, Diamonds coach) and the girls to win coming off the Commonwealth Games. It would have been hanging over their heads so to beat those international teams will do wonders for their confidence heading into the Constellation Cup.
"It's always been a massive rivalry between Australia and New Zealand. With Noeline at the reins and Laura Langman back in the team, they are on their way up again.
"It's almost like the Silver Ferns of old in a way. The last few years with the World Cup and Comm Games, the Constellation Cup may have taken a slight back seat but it will be interesting to see how it plays out because Noeline's game plan will ensure they are a big challenge to Australia again.''
Geitz - who will be part of the Channel 9 commentary team on Sunday - said the battle of wits between Taurua and Alexander would be a highlight of the trans-Tasman tussle.
"They are both so smart. Lisa is a very clever coach who is always forward thinking. She doesn't wait for a result to make change. She is constantly pushing and coming up with new ideas even when the team is successful,'' she said.
"Noeline is a great tactician just like Lisa and has the utmost respect of her players. I never played under Noeline but the way her players talk about her, they take it up another level for her. That ability to get players to play for her is something a coach can't be taught.
"She'll bring belief back to the New Zealand playing group while Lisa has changed up her coaching staff and brought in fresh ideas which have had a positive impact on the Diamonds as well.''
2018 Constellation Cup: Australia v New Zealand
Sunday, October 7 - Brisbane
Wednesday, October 10 - Townsville
Sunday, October 14 - Hamilton
Thursday, October 18 - Wellington