Aussie netball coach's big Comm Games call

Australian netball coach Lisa Alexander has some tough decisions to make ahead of Monday's Commonwealth Games squad announcement.

Australian netball coach Lisa Alexander

Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander faces hard decisions before her Commonwealth Games squad announcement. (AAP)

Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander will balance youth versus experience as she considers leaving two of the world's best defenders out of the Commonwealth Games netball squad to be named on Monday.

Australia will enter April's tournament on the Gold Coast as clear favourites, given their performances against South Africa, England and New Zealand in tournaments since August.

Goalkeepers and former captains Laura Geitz and Sharni Layton haven't been part of the side, though, with new mother Geitz on the comeback after having her first child and Layton forced away from the game due to exhaustion.

In their absence, 24-year-old Courtney Bruce has established herself at the back, while Emily Mannix, April Brandley and Jo Weston have all stated their case as frontline defenders.

Geitz and Layton impressed in last-ditch efforts at a recent training camp, with their experience something Alexander admits could be key in the high-pressure Commonwealth Games environment.

But there isn't room for all of them, the savvy coach describing the task of whittling a squad of at least 16 genuine options down to 12 as "unenviable".

And while a case could be made for the pair's re-introduction, Alexander said it would be hard to overlook the incumbents.

"We saw how well Laura did in camp and Sharni's getting herself back, but netball changes and evolves - you can't rely on the past," Alexander said.

"The Commonwealth Games is a very unique environment; no matter how much you talk about it, the attention - positive and negative - will be enormous.

"They do have that experience, but you can sometimes get too smart for yourself and new players are what can take you to a new level.

"It's about what is happening right now and what we have to have to do to win gold."

Chasing their fourth Commonwealth Games gold from six appearances, Australia have been drawn alongside Jamaica, South Africa, Barbados, Fiji and Northern Ireland in Pool A.

Those five games will take place within seven days, meaning Alexander might favour multi-positional players so she can rest and rotate the squad.

"It's a great position to be in but it's going to be really hard," Alexander said of the squad's depth.

"Those that make it will be representing the ones that are missing and, if we go away from that team-first approach, that is when we become vulnerable.'

3 min read
Published 31 January 2018 at 4:10pm
Source: AAP