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GAME DAY

My mum had flown over for round one, but I told her she couldn’t come and see me beforehand because I get very agitated over the littlest things. If anything’s stressing me out I just get very annoyed, especially on game day, and I might have started yelling at her or something.

 

But I was so excited about that first experience - especially at a venue like Qudos Bank Arena. It’s massive and it was packed with almost 10,000 people that day.

 

I wasn’t starting, but I was just happy to be in the 10. I really wasn’t expecting to get on at all. I mean, some players go a whole season without any court-time. Then our coach Briony Akle came up to me five minutes into the third quarter and said, ‘you’re going on, just go out there and play, don’t do anything flashy, just go out there and play netball’. I was so nervous but it was crazy.

 

I was just trying so hard. I didn’t look into the crowd because there were so many people, and it was so loud because we’d been eight goals down and the game was getting closer. I was trying to tell myself, ‘it’s all right, I’m just out here playing netball with my friends Helen (Housby), Claire (O’Brien) and Paige (Hadley)’. I was just trying to put into my mind that ‘we’re just at training, we’re just having fun, don’t get stressed out’.

 

I couldn’t even think about who I was playing on. I was against Laura Geitz, so I was like ‘oh, my God!’ But I also felt like even if I did badly I’d still be happy, anyway, because it was Laura. She’s a little bit scary on court. She’s very physical and so determined, an amazing player. To watch her is good. To play against her, not so good.

 

But with seven seconds to go and the scores level, I was pretty relaxed. I thought if I missed the goal, hopefully I’d just get the rebound and have another shot. It was so incredible to win that first game as a team because the Swifts hadn’t been so successful the previous year.

 

I remember thinking‘that has made the last six months worth it’.

 

Our captain, Abbey McCulloch started telling everyone afterwards that I was going to be the next Australian shooter. Abbey’s such a great leader, I love her and she’s my biggest cheerleader but, well, I think that was a bit premature.

 

Obviously, it’s exciting to hear your name being thrown around in that way, but it’s still just words, and I try not to get a big head over stuff like that. It was after I’d only played 20 minutes of netball that anyone had even seen, so I think everyone was getting a bit excited! It could have just been a fluke!

 

To be in the Diamonds is a dream of mine, just like it’s probably a dream of any young netballer my age, but I still think there’s a lot of work to do between now and whenever that is.

 

 

I think I did all right in my first season of Suncorp, but there’s so much I need to do better. It’s definitely a step up from ANL, a whole new level of physicality and speed of the game. I played against every team except for the Vixens, but not every game, and normally only a half or a quarter here and there. Most people probably wouldn’t be happy with that, but I was pretty stoked just to be on court for whatever time. 

 

I think I’m a pretty physical player, too. I’m not the fastest or the fittest, but I’m strong and I also feel like I’m quite calm on the court. I don’t get too carried away - well, I try not to - and I try to keep other people calm and be an encouraging voice out there for the girls. I love it when people are talking to me on court, so I like to be a voice for everyone else out on court as well.

 

I felt like even if I did badly I’d still be happy, anyway, because it was Laura. She’s a little bit scary on court.

 

I definitely thought about going home at the end of the season. I actually re-signed with the Swifts before we were released, so I don’t even know if I’d have had the option, but that would have been the easy thing to do. To go back into my comfort zone and get back into that relaxed Perth lifestyle, that definitely would have been easy, so it was a hard decision to stay, but I think it’s been the right one.

 

I love the Swifts girls, and I don’t think I could have left the team. And if I’d gone home, I probably would have stayed there for the rest of my career. So I want to make the most of living and challenging myself in Sydney rather than being a big fish in a small pond in Perth.

 

 

 

FAST-TRACKED

With so many recent Diamonds retirees, there’s a lot of opportunities for players coming through - especially with the World Cup ahead next year. I think I’m still a little bit away, and it is hard for Australian shooters to get opportunities with the unlimited import rule in Suncorp, but I’m lucky in a sense because Briony has been giving me the chance to get on court and try to prove myself.

 

Being picked for the Fast5 World Series is an opportunity to represent Australia, and I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve never played Fast5 so it’s all new to me; I’d never even watched it until a few weeks ago when I actually had to learn the rules!

 

Most of the girls in the team are so young, and any time we get out on the court, whether it’s in Suncorp or a Fast5 capacity, we get to show what we can do at that level. Some of the current Diamonds have previously played in Fast5 and there are some current Aussie squad members in the Fast5 team, so you can definitely tell there’s a relationship between the two, but I don’t want to get too excited.

 

 

The game is a lot faster, obviously, but I’ve definitely been working on my fitness in the last few weeks because I’m going to have to come out into that GA position that I haven’t played much of during the season. It’s being able to shoot the long bombs to get those two and three-pointers, and also shooting when you’re tired.

 

I feel like it will challenge the defenders more because the idea is to try and push players towards the post whereas normally you try and push them away. But there’s a lot of pressure on the shooters, too, because the power plays and stuff mean that whichever team’s shooting well will probably win the game.

 

It is a bit like Twenty20 in cricket. It’s different and it really engages the fans. I think my dad might enjoy it more, because it’s shorter, so he doesn’t have to pay attention for as long! It’s definitely exciting, and the rolling subs mean you have to be watching and ready the whole time, but I love the traditional game of netball and I don’t want it to change too much.

 

I see Fast5 as a stepping stone into the Diamonds’ pathway, and it’s an honour to represent Australia in any sense. It’s not a gold dress, it’s more of a yellow one, but still, it’s close!

 

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