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Price to make ‘house city’ Diamonds debut

Jamie-Lee Price desperately wants her Australian Test debut to unfold in Hamilton, the city that was nearly the springboard to a Silver Ferns netball bib.

Price has joined the Diamonds squad in New Zealand for the past two Tests of the Constellation Cup series, replacing fellow-midcourter Kate Moloney.

The 22-year-old could make her maiden appearance in Sunday’s clash at Claudelands Arena, the venue where she made her mark for four seasons as a wildly talented teenager with the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic.

The daughter of former Kangaroos and Queensland rugby league prop Steve Price grew up in New Zealand after dad left the Bulldogs for the Warriors in 2005.

Her netball flourished as she made national age group teams and it was two years ago when a key juncture in her allegiance arrived.

The trans-Tasman league split and Magic’s Australian coach Julie Fitzgerald departed for the new Giants Netball franchise in Sydney.

Price followed her heart by following Fitzgerald home.

“I’ve always been an Australian, I was born there and my family is Australian,” she told AAP.

“When the competition changed, my family were thinking about moving back as well, so it became a no-brainer for me.

“There was still a lot in the air. I had thought about the Silver Ferns and I obviously didn’t know if I was going to be good enough to represent Australia.”

Price’s family will be in attendance on Sunday, leaving her craving at least a quarter of action, probably at wing defence.

Otherwise she’ll have to wait for the final Test in Wellington on Thursday.

“I hope I get on in Hamilton because that’s where it started for me,” she said.

“I lived in New Zealand for 13 years and a few of my old schoolmates and friends have all bought tickets. It’ll be really cool to see a few familiar faces in the crowd and catch up I guess.”

Despite her affinity with New Zealand, Price is determined the Diamonds maintain their current hold over the Silver Ferns, on a run which extended to nine straight wins following Wednesday’s 56-47 result in Townsville.

“New Zealand definitely improved a lot from the first game so it’s good to see,” she said.

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