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Diamonds hit court before NZ netball Cup

Australia’s players feel the hub life they experienced through last year’s Super Netball season has kept them on level pegging with New Zealand in the lead-up to the opening Constellation Cup Test next week.

While the Silver Ferns have had free rein, the Diamonds are completing 14-days hotel quarantine in Christchurch and were only allowed to train on court from day six.

But mid-court ace Liz Watson says that the players got used to dealing with quarantine and other challenges last year, with Super Netball delayed and then played in a condensed season almost entirely in Queensland.

“In terms of the way we quarantine and what we’ve been doing, most of us have experienced some sort of hub scenario or quarantine situation back home last year so we have experienced what it’s like to be able to train,” Watson, who was part of the Melbourne Vixens premiership team, said.

“I don’t think we will be at a disadvantage.

“Ideally we would love to be out there preparing as we usually would but we’re just so lucky and happy that we’re over here playing netball so we’re making the best of the situation.”

Watson said the players had kept high-performance staff on their toes, having to manage their transition from the confines of a hotel room to full training.

“It’s been a headache for our strength and conditioning staff; we’re such a competitive bunch and when we get out on the court we just want to go as hard as we can,” Watson said.

“We’re starting to really build up now and on Friday we will have a practice match amongst each other which will be great.

“It’s been a challenge to hold us back but also see and grow those combinations out there.”

The four-Test series, starting on Tuesday in Christchurch and played over just six days, is the first under coach Stacey Marinkovich, who replaced long-time mentor Lisa Alexander.

Watson said there won’t be a massive change to their playing style, with Marinkovich looking to maximise the strengths of the world No.1-ranked Diamonds.

“I think Stacey is building the game plans around the strengths of her athletes,” Watson said.

“We’ve been so strong in the past in the Australian style and Stacey is acknowledging that but we’ve got such a different group – very dynamic and fast – and the game plan may alter to the strengths to whoever is out on court.”

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