Kate Moloney will watch the Commonwealth Games netball competition with an insider’s perspective, reconciled to the personal disappointment of missing out. One of four players drafted in to help prepare the Diamonds in their golden quest, the Melbourne Vixens’ Captain has played three Tests in the famous gold dress.
Along with her Vixens’ teammate Tegan Philip, Moloney is a Training Partner with the 12-strong Australian team that will open its Gold Coast campaign against Northern Ireland on 5 April.
Barring a last-minute call-up due to injury or illness, this week’s final training camp in Mooloolaba will be the last pre-Games duty for the Training Partners, who will then return to their Suncorp Super Netball clubs and support from afar.
Yet it will still be a more intimate view for Moloney than it was from Glasgow four years ago, when the Diamonds claimed their first Commonwealth title since 2002. Back then, the hard-working midcourter had finished just her second season with the Premiership-winning Vixens, and national selection seemed some way off. This time, she has international experience at Quad Series and Constellation Cup level, and is not just ready for another call-up if needed, but has been well educated in the Diamonds’ way.
“I suppose you look at it differently,’’ Moloney said on her brief break back home in Melbourne after the initial camp at the Australian Institute of Sport.
“You go from looking up to all these girls to now being involved with them all the time, and them becoming your teammates. You know what they’ve been working on, and I’ve been a part of it obviously, in the last few tours.
“You know how it all works on the inside, and what they’re trying to do, and also the path they’ve taken to get to this point. It’s important to know everything that they’re doing, and how they want to play, and how they want to go about things, just in case we’re needed.
“But then I suppose you just sit back and watch and hope that everything goes to plan. I’m looking forward to being able to cheer on our girls, and hopefully watch the Diamonds win another gold.’’
Involvement has dual benefits. While Moloney assists the national cause, she is also improving her own game ahead of the opening Suncorp Super Netball round - and a first-up local derby against the Magpies - at Hisense Arena on April 28.
The second-year captain admits she soaks up the time shared with so many of the sport’s other on-court leaders, while continuing to do things her own way. “The key is that I want to continue to be myself,’’ says Moloney. “You are always chatting and getting different ideas from different people, but it does come back to what works for the Vixens.’’
Having - wisely - replied with a laughing “no comment” to a question about whether Vixens’ Coach Simone McKinnis or Diamonds’ boss Lisa Alexander works her players harder, Moloney acknowledged the thrill of making her Test debut late in the deciding Constellation Cup Test last October against the Silver Ferns in Adelaide, alongside friends and long-time Victorian/Vixens teammates Liz Watson and Jo Weston.
A taste of international netball has now made the 25-year-old hungry for more, and if there is something slightly bittersweet about coming so close to Commonwealth Games selection yet ultimately missing out, then Moloney is as philosophical as she is determined to keep striving.
“That’s always the goal, is that you want to be there, but now it’s just about doing everything that I can to help the girls, and to make sure that they do come home with that gold medal. I also have to keep on improving my game and getting better, so that hopefully next time I’m in that 12.
“So, for me, it’s about going away and working on some things so that I can have a really good SSN year with the Vixens, then see what happens from there.’’
By Linda Pearce, multi-award-winning netball writer with over 30 years experience.