Australian Diamonds star midcourter Liz Watson has had a meteoric rise since becoming a Melbourne Vixen nine seasons ago.
She spoke exclusively to The Inner Sanctum about which teams await at the Commonwealth Games, along with what captaining the national side and wearing the Diamonds dress means to her.
Playing familiar foes in the International arena
With the Suncorp Super Netball bringing in many international-standard players, it brings about competition of a higher level within the league.
This begs the question, is it better for the players to play better international competition from week to week in the domestic competition or for the Diamonds to have the upper hand come Commonwealth Games and Quad Series?
Within the league, we have star international players in GIANTS captain and England international Jo Harten as well as NSW Swifts and English Roses goal attack Helen Housby.
We also have the Jamaican duo at the Adelaide Thunderbirds in Shamera Sterling and Latanya Wilson and their Sunshine Girls teammates at the West Coast Fever in Jhaniele Fowler and Collingwood with Jodi-Ann Ward.
Watson believes it is better for the league to have the best internationals in the league to improve the competition overall, even if it means the opponents get to know her strengths a little more.
“I think it’s a tricky one, because I think we have the best competition in the world and to know that the Suncorp Super Netball is probably the strongest competition, to be able to play in it with such amazing players,
“Then it’s tricky when we are going away, countries are improving, players are improving and they are going back to their home countries and making them stronger as well so for example the Adelaide (Thunderbirds) defence end is Jamaica,
“It is nice to be able to play against them … I think there are pros and cons to it but I definitely think it’s improving us because we need to get better as Australian players,” She says.
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Her relationship with coaches at SSN and Diamonds level
At the Melbourne Vixens level, Watson has Victorian netball legend Simone McKinnis as well as attacking assistant coach Di Honey. She also has the eyes of Australian Diamonds coach Stacey Marinkovich, the former West Coast Fever coach who has watched Watson as an opposition coach.
Watson speaks about the dynamic of learning from and being coached by two different coaches and the part they play in her journey.
“I guess Simone (McKinnis) is more our defensive coach and spends a lot of time with the defenders so I would say Di Honey is someone I work more closely with at the Vixens in that attacking position,”
“I mean they are both (Honey and Marinkovich) very different and they both bring something different and they see different parts of my game that they want to get better and want to improve and I think that’s the luxury that I have,
“[The advantage of] having two eyes at different parts of my career to know, you can do this and push your game in this way,
“I have been with Simone for nearly nine seasons now, so I think it’s great that I can also have someone like Stacey (Marinkovich) who she’s obviously been an opposition coach, against me for a long time with Fever so she definitely knows my game as much as Simone does and it’s probably just seeing my game from different eyes in different ways.”
Playing for the Australian Diamonds
Making her debut for the Australian Diamonds in 2016, Watson was included in the team that played England in Liverpool for her first game. From there she has become one of the best midcourters in the country.
In 2021, Watson was named as the 25th national captain alongside Steph Wood as the vice-captain. She was voted into the captaincy position by her teammates and Diamonds head coach Stacey Marinkovich, Netball Australia CEO Kelly Ryan and former Diamonds captain Liz Ellis AO.
Her job as captain is to help to ensure the team gels throughout the various Commonwealth Games and Quad Series, as well as to ensure they are primed to play for their country. She explains the role she has in the preparation process and how important it is to play for Australia.
“I think we’ve got a really good squad at the moment and everybody is really close and gets along really well,”
“We are competitive, that’s why we are playing sport and we do play as opponents and rivals but I think as soon as we come together we know that we are there to represent our country, which is bigger than anything we do,
“It’s nice to know that we can switch in really quickly to playing for the Diamonds and Australia and representing our country, no matter what state you are from or how many test matches you’ve had,
“You sort of get together and we have limited time when we do come together prior to any event, whether that be a Commonwealth Games or a Quad Series, there is not a lot of time that we spend together as a team,
“We have to make sure that when we do get together as a team that we click over and gel straightaway,” Watson continues.
“It’s amazing to even play for your country is an absolute dream but to have the honour of captaining this country and I think that even saying that sounds crazy,”
“I think having the buy-in of the team, they were the ones who voted and put me up for that position and that nominated me, I feel really lucky and really proud and almost a responsibility to do my best for this team and for this country,
“I know I’ve got an amazing team and an amazing squad and coaching staff and everyone is on the same page, there is no egos and we all want success and I think that makes my job a lot easier,” says Watson.
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