The four match test series between Silver Ferns and Australian Diamonds is finally returning after its postponement in 2020 due to Covid-19.
The last time these two nations met dates back to the 2019 Netball World Cup Final, where New Zealand took the victory to become world champions.
Fans across the world are eagerly awaiting to see how both teams have built and come out the other side of the pandemic.
What to Expect
Firstly, New Zealand will be looking to carry on their form from beating England in the Cadbury Netball Series at the back end of 2020.
Albeit missing some players, especially in their defensive end due to failing rigorous fitness testing.
It has been no secret that Dame Noeline expects the best from her squad, in particular in terms of fitness, and if players did not reach standards, they would be sent home from Silver Ferns camp.
Looking at the squads, one obvious omission is Kelly Jury who would have been crucial to the defensive unit bringing extra height to combat the likes of Caitlin Bassett.
This leaves Burger, Watson and Fitzpatrick in the circle, perhaps less depth than the host would have wanted.
But that is where the strength and depth issues end, as by looking at the rest of the squad they have a plethora of options down the rest of the court. Midcourters and Shooters aplenty, it looks to be Ekenasio and Wilson who will start with the two shooter bibs, whilst competition for the three midcourter starters heats up.
For the Australian Diamonds, under new coach Stacey Marinkovich this will be the first time wearing the gold and green in more than a year.
It almost feels like the opening of a new chapter for Australia, with a squad that represents this fact.
Seven players in the squad could make their debut for their country (Anstiss, Austin, Charles, Garbin, Jenner, Koenen, Proud) as the Diamonds look to stamp their mark against the World Champions.
The Diamonds captain, Bassett will take the GS bib, whilst the long-term GA remains to be settled with Garbin and Austin fighting it out with Koenan also in the mix.
In terms of midcourt there is a lot of experience there with the likes of Hadley, Maloney, Lee-Price and Simpson who have all impressed. As we move down the court to defence Jo Weston will pressumingly start alongside Bruce.
One of the biggest aspects of Marinkovich’s coaching that has come under debate is the team leadership call, in which she has elected to not select a captain or small leadership group and instead the whole team will have the chance to lead the group. It is undoubtedly a new idea, and we will await to see the outcome to see if it could create a new way of leading in Netball.
Unfortunately, due to Covid alert levels rising in New Zealand the cup will be played behind closed doors, which is a massive shame for the hosts missing out on their home support but also for netball itself.
Despite this both teams are absolutely raring to go and get on court to show how they have emerged after a long period not playing each other. This is the ultimate test to show who is the best in the world out of the two most closely fought nations.
New Zealand: Ameliaranne Ekenasio (c), Maia Wilson, Bailey Mes, Monica Falkner, Gina Crampton, Claire Kersten, Sam Winders, Shannon Saunders, Kimiora Poi, Whitney Souness, Maddy Gordon, Karin Burger, Jane Watson, Sulu Fitzpatrick.
Australia: Jess Anstiss, Kiera Austin, Caitlin Bassett, Courtney Bruce, Verity Charles, Sophie Garbin, Paige Hadley, Kimberley Jenner, Cara Koenen, Sarah Klau, Jamie-Lee Price, Maddy Proud, Kate Moloney, Gabi Simpson, Liz Watson, Jo Weston. Tour invitees: Tippah Dwan, Tara Hinchliffe.