Young guns to soar internationally

003189-58980d5c-8fd0-11e4-89e6-666640dc41b2Netball Australia have this week announced the Netball Australia Centre of Excellence touring party and 2015 Australian 21/U national team.

The announcements have thrilled Queenslanders with the inclusion of Fusion stars Mahalia Cassidy, Hulita Haukinima and Beryl Friday.

Friday, hot off her recent ANZ Championship Firebirds win, will team up with Haukinima in the Centre of Excellence touring party while Cassidy joins the 21/U side.

Both teams will play a series of warm up matches against national and international teams in the lead up to the Netball World Cup in Sydney in August.

The Centre of Excellence Tour will test their skills against teams from Scotland and Wales while the 21/U side will take on the Australian Diamonds, New Zealand’s Silver Ferns and England.

The Excellence tour, which will be coached by Centre of Excellence specialist coach Nicole Richardson, is first up and will compete in Hobart and Launceston between 30 July and 2 August.

Richardson, who played 32 Tests for Australia between 1999 and 2003, said taking on such a high standard of international competition would be a fantastic experience for the young athletes but that they could handle it.

“It will be a totally new experience for a lot of these athletes. The group has only got a very short time frame to gel then you throw in the extra challenges of being away from home, that’s going to add another dimension,” Richardson said.

“The depth of talent in this age group is exceptional.”

21/U team selector Lisa Alexander, coach to the Australian Diamonds, also spoke of the benefits to athletes competing internationally.

“For this group of 21/U athletes, it’s a terrific opportunity to get this experience at the international level,” Alexander said.

“It’s a once-in-a-generation opportunity in many respects to get this level of match play.”

The 21/U team will take on the Diamonds in Newcastle as well as the Silver Ferns, and England in Sydney between1-5 August.


CoE touring party: Taylah Davies (NSW/NSW Swifts, captain), Emily Mannix (VIC/Melbourne Vixens, vice-captain), Toni Anderson (NSW), Keira Austin (NSW), Kristina Brice (NSW), Emily Burgess (South Australia), Beryl Friday (QLD/Queensland Firebirds), Hulita Haukinima (QLD), Annika Lee-Jones (WA), Numi Tupaea (WA), Maddy Turner (SA), Georgie Virgo (SA).


Australian 21/U team: Gia Abernethy (South Australia), Kaitlyn Bryce (NSW), Mahalia Cassidy (Queensland), Sarah Klau (South Australia), Cody Lange (SA/Adelaide Thunderbirds), Chelsea Lemke (South Australia), Kristina Manu’a (NSW/WBOP Magic), Kaylia Stanton (WA/West Coast Fever), Alice Teague-Neeld (Victoria/Melbourne Vixens), Chloe Watson (Victoria/Melbourne Vixens), Liz Watson (Victoria/Melbourne Vixens), Jo Weston (Victoria/Melbourne Vixens).