Who’s as much as the unattainable activity of changing Australia’s greatest netballer in a World Cup 12 months?
That’s the query looming over Australian netball because the home Tremendous Netball competitors will get underway this weekend.
Whereas gamers have been urged to concentrate on membership duties, it’s tough to not forged one eye ahead to July’s Netball World Cup in South Africa.
The World Cup is the one title lacking from Australia’s trophy cupboard and the Diamonds are decided to emphatically reclaim their place because the undisputed powerhouse of world netball.
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However they should do it with out dynamic shooter Gretel Bueta, who will miss the Tremendous Netball season and the World Cup marketing campaign after saying she was anticipating her second little one.
It’s pleasant information for Bueta, who pulled out of worldwide sequence late final 12 months earlier than revealing she had suffered a miscarriage.
However her absence poses a significant dilemma for Diamonds coach Stacey Marinkovich, who must decide on a beginning aim shooter for the World Cup.
The three main contenders are Cara Koenen, Sophie Garbin and Donnell Wallam, who’ve all excelled when given the chance in nationwide colors within the final 12 months.
Koenen performed very important minutes within the gold medal match ultimately 12 months’s Commonwealth Video games, Garbin turned the Constellation Cup in Australia’s favour and Wallam famously scored the matchwinning buzzerbeater aim on debut.
Koenen is a frontrunner to get first crack at aim shooter, though the Diamonds’ World Cup squad is way from set in stone.
The 27-year-old mentioned at first, the Diamonds squad had rallied round Bueta after the emotional rollercoaster of the final six months.
“Clearly, Gretel’s been on an absolute rollercoaster and as a lot as we’re a squad first mentality, it’s form of extra like a household,” Koenen informed information.com.au.
“Our entire tradition is predicated round ‘sisters in arms’. I feel when considered one of us is feeling one thing as important as that, we wished to rally round her, and (husband) Niko and (son) Bobby in addition to they’ve been a mainstay of the Diamonds atmosphere during the last couple of years.
“It was clearly a really robust time for her household and we wished to help her in no matter approach we will. It form of brings it again to the truth that it’s larger than simply netball. It reminds you of what’s necessary.
Koenen is effectively conscious the Australian GS bib is there for the taking and he or she is set to be a part of the Diamonds group that wins the World Cup.
“By way of me attempting to take that chance that I suppose that (Bueta’s absence) left for me, yeah I feel everybody’s placing their hand up for court docket time,” she mentioned.
“That’s a part of the power of Australian netball in the intervening time and why we’ve been so formidable during the last 12 months.
Koenen has come into her personal lately and has develop into a mainstay of the Diamonds and her Tremendous Netball membership the Sunshine Coast Lightning.
“It’s been a busy 12-18 months with worldwide stuff backing onto the top of the SSN (Suncorp Tremendous Netball) league,” she mentioned.
“I’m actually having fun with enjoying my netball and I’ve had the privilege to play with some fairly wonderful ladies each for Diamonds and Lightning.
“I imply Comm Video games was in all probability a spotlight of my netballing life, life typically. With the ability to get minutes in that last, which I used to be in no way anticipating. That’s an indescribable second that I’ll always remember.
“We’ve received actually nice teams, we get alongside rather well off the court docket so I really feel like most of it has been hanging out with my mates and throw in slightly netball on the facet.
“As quickly as we head into (Diamonds) camp I do have a pinch me, deer in headlights form of factor, the place I nonetheless must pinch myself that I’m there.”
The Diamonds have been on a mission to be the dominant drive in world netball since Marinkovich took over as coach in 2020.
Aside from dropping the Constellation Cup in 2021, Australia’s trajectory to the highest of the mountain has been regular and profitable.
In an ideal final 12 months, the Diamonds received two Quad Collection, Commonwealth Video games gold, reclaimed the Constellation Cup and dominated England.
The redemption tour shall be full in the event that they win the World Cup, the place New Zealand and Jamaica loom because the fiercest challengers.
“One thing Stacey’s instilled within the group since approaching board as head coach is the truth that she doesn’t wish to shrink back from expectation,” Koenen mentioned.
“I feel in sport typically it may be slightly bit taboo to speak about ‘we wish to win this quantity of medals, we wish to win this quantity of video games’.
“Whereas she’s been actually open and trustworthy about setting that benchmark and expectation as World No. 1 that we wish to win that trophy again from New Zealand, win it again from the Kiwis and have the whole set again in our palms.
“It’s one thing that hasn’t been carried out an entire lot in netball, profitable each Comm Video games and World Cup in a single cycle. We discuss loads about being a transformational group, I feel she has actually instilled that expectation and perception in us that’s a giant aim for this 12 months.
“Having slowly stuffed up our trophy cupboard once more, we do have such a squad robust. It’s not even about that seven that will get on court docket or the 12 that’s picked within the group or the 15 that excursions.
“It’s actually that entire 20 that’s pushing for choice when any alternative comes up. It’s a extremely aggressive atmosphere, which I feel solely makes us loads higher.”
Koenen’s mixture with aim assault Steph Wooden is rising each time they step out on the court docket collectively for the Diamonds and the Sunshine Coast Lightning.
“We joke about it loads however we name her the neatest participant within the recreation,” Koenen mentioned of Wooden, who’s in profession greatest type.
“She hates it however I feel it’s fairly on model. She’s received such a approach of studying play and creating in our assault finish. She just about runs what we do up there so I really feel very fortunate to have shared the aim circle together with her for a few years now.
“I really feel like she simply will get me. She form of is aware of the place to place the ball earlier than I do know the place I’m going.
“We’ve had the privilege to work collectively in an SSN atmosphere and having the ability to work together with her within the Diamonds as effectively and simply persevering with to strengthen that mixture in opposition to worldwide opponents is de facto thrilling.
The Lightning completed backside of the Tremendous Netball ladder final season however are hoping for an improved 2023, with the returning Karla Pretorius to shoulder a heavy load in defence after Tara Hinchcliffe suffered an ACL damage.
“The one approach is up actually,” Koenen laughed.
“The league is de facto tight factors smart. We had a couple of superior performances and we received waxed a couple of instances on court docket as effectively.
“We’ll undoubtedly be seeking to make finals and be actually, actually aggressive this 12 months.”
The Lightning start their Tremendous Netball marketing campaign in opposition to the Giants on Sunday afternoon.
Initially revealed as Cara Koenen on filling Gretel Bueta’s footwear, Aussie Diamonds’ quest to win netball’s ‘full set’