The Samsung Australian Diamonds will kick off their 2019 Constellation Cup campaign against the New Zealand Silver Ferns in Christchurch this weekend. Their first match of the four-game series at Horncastle Arena this Sunday will be broadcast live in Australia from 2pm AEDT on Channel 9.
Melbourne Vixens’ Liz Watson, Caitlin Thwaites, Jo Weston and Tegan Philip will be taking to the court for the Diamonds, for the first time since the two nations met in July’s heartbreaking World Cup Final, where the Diamonds went down to the Silver Ferns by a single goal.
Liz Watson – who was also a member of Australia’s 2019 World Cup team – spoke after training in Christchurch of the team’s desire to start afresh this series and not dwell on the results of the World Cup.
“Obviously every time you play for your country you want to perform, and yes, to lose by a goal in the World Cup Final was obviously disappointing and the girls are hurting from that,” Watson said.
“It hurts a lot and at the end of the day it was just that one goal, and we’ve got to look at it from a performance point of view,” she continued.
“We’ve learnt it’s just those pressure moments in the game where we really need to step up and take the game on and I think we can all put our hand up and say there’s something else we could’ve done individually to perform that little bit better so it’s just those little 1% things.”
“Every time we play New Zealand there’s that rivalry no matter when or where we’re playing, but we said from the start we want four wins and four good games, and we know that the fans want the same.”
The Vixens’ Tegan Philip is one of the additions to the Diamonds’ Constellation Cup squad that did not play in Liverpool, and Watson added that it was great to see players like Philip rewarded for an excellent back-half of the Suncorp Super Netball season, post the World Cup break.
“it’s great to see them being rewarded for their performances and they just bring different ideas…fresh air. We’ve got two girls who will potentially debut as well, which adds extra excitement amongst the team.”
“With how we’re performing we want to be a team that still plays our way and not change too much, so that’s something we’ve always stuck to; playing the Aussie way, stick to our structures and our strengths, and then bring in the new players as well and complement their strengths as well.”
There is speculation that the 2019 Constellation Cup could be the last time we see some of New Zealand’s senior players pull on the Silver Ferns dress, but Watson said the Diamonds would not be distracted by the sense of occasion.
“Some of the players in the team we play with back home or play against, we do know each other quite well… so I feel like we have a lot of insight into them, as they do into us - we always know the game they’re going to bring and we both have that knowledge and respect that no one’s going to give up.”
“Look at someone like Langman,” Watson continued. “She was actually the first player I debuted against when I started my career, so we’ve had some great battles along the way. Yes, when they retire and make the decision to finish up they will be missed from the game, but we’re making each other better players in the meantime, and I guess being teammates or opponents, you still want to push each other to be better players.”
Where you can watch the Constellation Cup:
MATCH 1 – Horncastle Arena, Christchurch - Sunday 13 October – 2pm AEDT (Channel 9)
MATCH 2 – Spark Arena, Auckland - Wednesday 16 October – 5:30pm AEDT (9GEM)
MATCH 3 – Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney - Sunday 20 October – 1pm AEDT (Channel 9)
MATCH 4 - RAC Arena, Perth - Sunday 27 October - 1pm AEDT (Channel 9)
Tickets are still available for match three and four in Sydney and Perth here.