Melbourne Vixens young gun Joanna Weston has been named in the Australian Diamonds extended 15-player squad ahead of October’s four-Test Constellation Cup series against the New Zealand Silver Ferns.
Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander and national selectors opted for an extended squad, which includes nine players returning from Australia’s triumphant Netball World Cup campaign in August.
Weston said she was “honoured to even be considered” for the squad and was looking forward to coming into such a successful team environment.
“I was incredibly excited and also slightly in disbelief,” Weston said about her call up into the Australian Squad.
“The quality of competition is probably what I am most looking forward to but also the opportunity to work with the best players and coaches in the world.”
Weston was recently named vice-captain of the Australian 21/U team that toured in the lead up to the 2015 Netball World Cup in Sydney and was a key member in the Victorian Fury premiership winning team in the Australian Netball League.
“I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to play with the 21/U Australian team in the lead up to the World Cup, which was incredible…I have a learnt a lot from the professionalism that is required to play and succeed at the elite level.”
“The success I experienced with the Victorian Fury has been one of the highlights of the year. Both of the competitions have made it easy to keep match fitness and allow me to focus on specific skills I want to develop moving forward.”
Following the retirements of defenders Julie Corletto and Rebecca Bulley, and the international retirement of vice-captain Kim Green, Alexander has named the uncapped Gretel Tippett (Firebirds), Ashleigh Brazill (Fever), Gabi Simpson (Firebirds) and Joanna Weston (Vixens).
Along with the quartet, defenders Clare McMeniman and April Letton have earnt recalls to the green and gold, joining world champions Laura Geitz (captain), Caitlin Bassett, Erin Bell, Paige Hadley, Renae Ingles (nee Hallinan), Sharni Layton, Natalie Medhurst, Kim Ravaillion and Caitlin Thwaites.
“The Constellation Cup not only gives us the chance to write the next chapter in our storied rivalry with the Silver Ferns but the opportunity to reward those previously on the cusp of selection and working hard in our squad,” Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander said.
The Constellation Cup series will be the first time that the Diamonds have taken the court since defeating the Silver Ferns by three goals to win a third consecutive Netball World Cup title at Allphones Arena in August.
Alexander will name the 12-player Diamonds teams ahead of the Christchurch (October 20), Auckland (October 22), Melbourne (October 25) and Perth (October 30) Tests.
Along with the 15-player squad for the Constellation Cup, Weston, Kristiana Manu'a and Liz Watson have been elevated into the extended 2015-16 Diamonds squad and available for future international selection, including January’s Tour of England.
Australian Diamonds for 2015 Constellation Cup:
NAME (state of origin/ANZ Championship team)
Caitlin Bassett (WA/West Coast Fever)
Ashleigh Brazill (NSW/West Coast Fever)
Erin Bell (NSW/Adelaide Thunderbirds)
Laura Geitz (QLD/Queensland Firebirds)
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)
Kim Ravaillion (NSW/Queensland Firebirds)
Gabi Simpson (NSW/Queensland Firebirds)
Caitlin Thwaites (VIC/NSW Swifts)
Gretel Tippett (QLD/Queensland Firebirds)
Joanna Weston (VIC/Melbourne Vixens)