Imports complicate Diamonds' Cup selection

Silver Fern Laura Langman and South African Karla Pretorius are among the foreigners challenging Australia's selection contenders for the Netball World Cup.

australian coach lisa alexander talks to players in a huddle after victory in the constellation cup match between the australian diamonds and the new zealand silver ferns at qudos bank arena in sydney australia
Australian coach LISA ALEXANDER talks to players in a huddle after victory in the Constellation Cup match between the Australian Diamonds and the New Zealand Silver Ferns at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney, Australia. Picture: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

A South African and a Kiwi have conspired to make life even more difficult to finalise the Australian team for the Netball World Cup in July.

National coach Lisa Alexander has her eyes on Netball Giants midcourter Jamie-Lee Price as one of the final pieces to lock into her outfit for their Cup defence in Liverpool.

A stirring performance against New Zealand Silver Ferns captain Laura Langman at the Sunshine Coast on Saturday night would have helped build an irresistible case for inclusion in the 12-player team.

But Kiwis tend not to make things easy for any opponent, as Langman showed when she and South African Karla Pretorius led Sunshine Coast Lightning to a 72-61 Super Netball win against Price's Giants on Saturday night.

Price frustrated the Silver Ferns veteran at times and her feeds into Jo Harten and Caitlin Bassett were spot-on.

As the contest opened up in the second half, Langman was the most influential player on court as she hassled the Giants midcourt and found space in the forward line.

It was not the compelling argument Price needed to cement her World Cup selection but, as an incumbent, her fighting contribution may yet see her rewarded when the side is announced on Thursday.

The form of Langman, defender Pretorius (five gains, four intercepts and three deflections) and other internationals has raised the bar in Super Netball.

Australia's national league is packed with current and former Test players from around the world. That gives Alexander a reliable guide for selection but it can also dent the confidence of those in contention.

Lightning defender Madeline McAuliffe was part of the shut down crew that clamped down on Price and the Giants' former Australian wing attack Kim Green.

Over the next fortnight she faces similar challenges against Diamonds star Liz Watson and England's Chelsea Pitman.

"That's the beauty of this competition. Every week you're up against a Diamond, an ex-Diamond or an England Rose," McAuliffe said.

"When there's so much international talent you've got to do a lot of homework every week.

"I knew Kim Green would be really tough. Her change of direction is second to none."

The national selectors would have been satisfied with the impact of Sunshine Coast goal attack Steph Wood against the Giants.

Wood scored 21 goals at 88 per cent accuracy and her precision around the circle edge was a standout feature of the Lightning's win.


AAP