Melbourne Vixens young guns Jo Weston and Liz Watson have been named in the Australian Diamonds 12-player team for January’s three-Test tour of England.
Uncapped rising star Liz Watson has been selected in the team, which features six players from Australia’s Netball World Cup winning team, including Caitlin Bassett, Paige Hadley, Renae Ingles, Sharni Layton, Natalie Medhurst and Caitlin Thwaites.
Watson’s selection continues the Diamonds’ rejuvenation, which included the debuts of Jo Weston, Gabi Simpson, Gretel Tippett, and Ashleigh Brazill during the recent Constellation Cup series, following key retirements of Julie Corletto, Kim Green and Rebecca Bulley after the World Cup.
Watson was on her way home from training when she received the call from Diamonds head coach Lisa Alexander.
“I was just driving home from training when Lisa called me…it was very unexpected, and I was pretty much speechless, it was a moment I'll never forget," Watson said.
“To represent your country, I am very honoured, but I guess to be able to represent my country as the current world champions is a privilege and something I'm extremely excited about!”
Weston made her debut in front of a home crowd in Melbourne only nine days ago and is equally excited to be rejoining the team for the England tour.
“When I first heard the news I was excited but also very honoured, as it is a privilege to represent Australia and join the Diamonds team again,” Weston said.
“I’m hoping to continue to build partnerships with the other defenders and enjoy the opportunity to play against the (England) Roses.”
“Having Liz (Watson) and a couple of other girls from previous underage teams helps the team environment to feel more familiar and as the on court relationships already exist, the initial groundwork is already there.”
Diamonds captain Laura Geitz and Kim Ravaillion, who made her international debut against England on the 2013 tour to England, have been rested for the tour while Erin Bell and Ash Brazill continue the rotations.
“The national selectors and I feel that it’s important to continue to create opportunities and elite international experience for all of our National Squad athletes in preparation for benchmark events such as the Commonwealth Games in 2018 at the Gold Coast,” Alexander said.
Shooter Stephanie Wood, who has been elevated to the Diamonds squad, and defender Kristiana Manu’a have been named as touring training partners following performances at Netball Australia’s Centre of Excellence.
An acting-captain for the three-Test series against England Roses will be named ahead of the team’s departure on Wednesday 13 January 2016.
Australian Diamonds team for 2016 England Tour
NAME (state of origin/ANZ Championship team)
Caitlin Bassett (WA/West Coast Fever)
Paige Hadley (NSW/NSW Swifts)
Renae Ingles (nee Hallinan) (VIC/Adelaide Thunderbirds)
Sharni Layton (VIC/NSW Swifts)
April Letton (NSW/West Coast Fever)
Clare McMeniman (QLD/Queensland Firebirds)
Natalie Medhurst (SA/West Coast Fever)
Gabi Simpson (NSW/Queensland Firebirds)
Caitlin Thwaites (VIC/NSW Swifts)
Gretel Tippett (QLD/Queensland Firebirds)
Liz Watson (VIC/Melbourne Vixens)
Jo Weston (VIC/Melbourne Vixens)
Kristiana Manu’a (NSW/Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic)*
Stephanie Wood (QLD/NSW Swifts)*
2016 Tour of England Fixture
Test 1 - England Roses v Australian Diamonds
Wednesday 20 January 2016
Echo Arena, Liverpool
Test 2 - England Roses v Australian Diamonds
Friday 22 January 2016
Copper Box Arena, London
Test 3 - England Roses v Australian Diamonds
Sunday 24 January 2016
Copper Box Arena, London