The Samsung Australian Diamonds will kick off their 2019 Vitality Netball World Cup campaign tonight against Northern Ireland at 7:30pm AEST (Friday 12 July), being broadcast in Australia live on 9Gem and 9Go.
Melbourne Vixens, Lizzy Watson, Caitlin Thwaites and Jo Weston will be taking the court, while Kadie-Ann Dehaney will be facing Fiji at 12am tomorrow morning for Jamaica.
Last night the Diamonds joined Netball Fiji and Netball Samoa in being welcomed to Liverpool by Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Deputy High Commissioner to the United Kingdom Matt Anderson.
They had their final training session this morning ahead of the tournament, where Lizzy Watson spoke of the girl’s eagerness to get out on court.
“I’m so excited, it’s been such a build-up, and everyone’s just ready to start,” Watson said.
“We’ve had great training preparation, even back home in Sydney and in Manchester and now we’re finally here in Liverpool, and we’ll have a run around today and we just can’t wait to start.”
“We love it here in Liverpool, we were here in Jan for the Quad Series, so we are staying at the same hotel and the girls have definitely found out their favourite coffee shops and all the important things [laughs].”
It was revealed at the end of June that Australia still currently hold the number one world ranking in the International Netball Federation, while Jamaica have moved to number two, however Watson says it’s not something the girls put too much thought into.
“To be honest, we don’t really think about it and I guess every country goes into a tournament like this wanting to win and that’s our main goal.
“In Australia we have such great history and success at the World Cup, so as players you want to continue that and you’re proud to have the opportunity to do that.”
Australia has taken on and beaten Northern Ireland on eight occasions in the past, most recently at the 2018 Commonwealth Games where the final score was 94 to 26.
“I think this year there are so many countries that will be right up there, you probably couldn’t pick who is going to be there at the end of the week.”
“For me, it’s my first World Cup, but hearing the stories of how they have been in the past and just knowing the calibre of the players in the competition at the moment, it’s definitely going to be a tough one.”
After England beat Australia last year in the dying moments of the Commonwealth Games gold medal final, with all three Diamonds involved, there is plenty of extra motivation for the girls going into the tournament.
“England are right up there, and of course having the home advantage as well. I was part of the medal match, so you can definitely feel how big England netball is getting.
“For us, even against New Zealand, they’re probably someone we’ve always had a strong rivalry with and I’m sure that is going to happen again.
“We do go to win, but we do have a completely different team from the Commonwealth Games gold medal match, but I do think for us we want to come home with that gold medal and doing it over here would be extra special.
“We’ve spoken about our first few games and we want to be putting out our best performance, no matter who we are playing. We’ve had such quality practice matches against Manchester Thunder and England A, so we’ve been able to really build on our game plan and what we want to put out.
“Every game we want to put out our best, so when we do get to the end of the week, we’ve been under that pressure, we’ve had the opportunities to change things out on court or adapt in the different games we play in, so it’s not too unknown when we get to the backend.
“Everyone is just itching to get out there, so hopefully we all get a run around in the first few games and it’s just every player taking their opportunity.”
The Diamonds will take on Northern Ireland tonight at 7:30pm, which will be live on 9Gem and 9GO for Australian viewers. Kadie-Ann Dehaney will face Fiji for Jamaica at 12am tomorrow morning, which will be live streamed on 9now.
Catch all the action here on 9now!
Where you can watch the first three Diamonds matches:
MATCH 1 - Samsung Diamonds v Northern Ireland – Friday 12 July – 7:30pm AEST (9Gem + 9Go)
MATCH 2 - Samsung Diamonds v Zimbabwe – Saturday 13 July – 5:45pm AEST (9Gem)
MATCH 3 - Samsung Diamonds v Sri Lanka – Sunday 14 July – 11:45pm AEST (Channel 9)
Where you can watch the first three Jamaican matches:
MATCH 1 - Jamaica vs. Fiji – Saturday 13 July – 12am AEST (9now)
MATCH 2 - Jamaica vs. Trinidad and Tobago – Sunday 14 July – 2am AEST (9now)
MATCH 3 - Jamaica vs. South Africa – Monday 15 July - 2am (9now)