April Brandley finds it bizarre she’s the veteran of the Diamonds’ defensive group heading into the annual four-match Constellation Cup netball series against New Zealand starting next week.
With Sharni Layton and Laura Geitz not expected to return to the squad until January and Julie Corletto, Bec Bulley and Clare McMeniman all retiring from international netball over the past couple of years, Australia’s defence is one of their least experienced in recent memory.
Magpies player Brandley has 14 caps, more than the combined tally of her three Diamonds’ defence circle colleagues – Jo Weston (six), Courtney Bruce (three) and Emily Mannix (one) – making her the senior member of the line.
“It’s quite bizarre actually when you think of it like that,” Brandley told AAP.
Bruce and Mannix made their international debut in the recent Quad Series and have been retained in the squad for the four-Test home and away series with New Zealand, beginning in Auckland next Thursday.
“Even though we are quite young and inexperienced, a lot of people are really coming into some great form especially this year with Suncorp Super Netball,” Brandley said.
“Emily and Jo had a formidable partnership throughout the year for the Vixens and Courtney was strong at the Fever.
“It’s really cool having the four of us combining together at the Diamonds; I think there’s something fresh and young about the end.”
Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander has plenty of confidence in her emerging breed of circle defenders.
“The young inexperienced defence line has really been doing a great job and taking this opportunity with both hands, really maturing every single training session they get out there,” Alexander said.
Brandley got her first run with the Diamonds four years ago.
“She’s just starting to really hit her straps and doing some great work for us,” Alexander said.
The Diamonds lost 57-47 to New Zealand in their most recent game and the Silver Ferns have added experience to their shooting line-up with Maria Tutaia returning to their squad after missing that win.
“She can shoot from anywhere, she’s a massive addition to their shooting end and someone we have to keep a close eye on,” Brandley said.