NETBALL: Queensland Firebirds vice-captain Caitlyn Nevins is confident her side will continue to build strongly toward their opening Suncorp Super Netball clash with Sunshine Coast Lightning in the absence of their Australian stars.
Nevins is in line for her first Diamonds cap as part of the upcoming Quad Series tour of South Africa and England and will be joined in camp by Firebirds coach Roselee Jencke (defensive specialist) plus teammates Gabi Simpson, Gretel Tippett and Kate Shimmin.
Firebirds assistant coach Jenny Brazel will take charge of head coaching duties until Jencke returns on February 8, while Queensland's Diamonds quartet will re-join their teammates a week before the season begins on Feburary 18.
"We do have an extremely short turnaround between arriving home and round one, but we have a strategy in place in terms of recovery so that we feel fresh and ready to play,” Nevins said.
"The weekend's match play against the Giants and Swifts showed we're in a really great position. All 10 players are in excellent form and it was great to see all the young girls step up and really challenge the senior players.
"The girls training in Brisbane will continue to develop their skills. We'll have to make the best use of that week leading into round one, but after the weekend's matches I think we'll be ready to go.”
After spending time in Diamonds camp over the past six months without a cap, Nevins said she was relishing the chance to step up to the challenge of international netball.
"I can't wait to immerse myself in the Diamonds culture again and I'm looking forward to playing with and against the best netballers in the world. It's a huge step up from the domestic level, but I feel confident and ready,” she said.
"Playing for the Diamonds is the pinnacle of netball. It's what you dream about as a young girl. At international level you see each country's different take on the game. Not having the Kiwis in Suncorp Super Netball means we won't be exposed to their style of play as often moving forward, but I feel lucky that I've played in the ANZ Championship which helped me get where I am.
"I know how to play against the Kiwi style, I know how tough it is and I'm excited for the challenge.”
After being selected as vice-captain of Australia's Fast5 team in October, Shimmin has been called up to the Diamonds squad as a training partner.
Nevins said her Queensland teammate's attributes were ready made for the international game.
"Kate is an athletic, fearless defender. She has so much flair and she's certainly been welcomed in the Firebirds environment,” Nevins said.
"We knew if we were going to have a chance of winning the 2017 Suncorp Super Netball championship that we couldn't be the same. Kate has brought a nice point of difference to our defence end and has settled in a treat.
"Everybody learns with any opportunity to immerse yourself in the Diamonds environment. You take your game to that next level. Hopefully all of us can head back with a few new tools in our belt and help continue the high standard we've got at the club.”
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