Commonwealth Games 2022: Diamonds coach says squad may still expand based on Super Netball performances

Netball Australia named a squad of 18 players for the Commonwealth Games in April but coach Stacey Marinkovich says there is a still a chance for the players who missed out.

Diamonds coach Stacey Marinkovich has not ruled out adding players to her national squad, with the final selection of the Commonwealth Games squad pushed back until the end of the Super Netball fixture rounds and spots still on the line in a tight race.

Selectors named a preliminary squad of 18 last month but have to cut that to 12 before the Games in Birmingham just over three weeks after the Super Netball grand final.

The tightest season in the history of the competition is bringing the best out in players and Marinkovich would not rule out adding to the initial pool of 18 before the Games squad is finalised.

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“We certainly discuss it each time that we’re there,” Marinkovich said of selection meetings between herself, Anne Sargeant and Michelle Wilkins.

“We are watching players closely and certainly looking at some key things because we’ve got potentially a lot of netball to go between now and World Cup next year as well.

Diamonds coach Stacey Marinkovich has not ruled out adding players to the initial Commonwealth Games squad. Picture: Richard Walker
Diamonds coach Stacey Marinkovich has not ruled out adding players to the initial Commonwealth Games squad. Picture: Richard Walker

“Certainly if players get added to the squad, then they’re definitely up for selection for Comm Games. And I guess that’s the part we’re nailing down at the moment but there are certainly players that continue to challenge.

“It’s working out what that improvement’s been and why would we shift our decision-Making.”

The final announcement date of the squad has not yet been set in stone by Commonwealth Games Australia but selectors will have until at least the end of the fixture rounds in mid-June to finalise their squad.

“There are certainly still decisions to be made,” Marinkovich said.

“Players, I think, have put up their hand quite strongly this season and then I think there’s also a group of athletes that are really challenging each other week in week out.

“I think this is one of the first times where you’ve got most players really having to perform under some type of expectation or pressure (at this stage of the Super Netball season) with the draw and the ladder that the way it is.

Stacey Marinkovich and the selectors will be watching the final rounds of the Super Netball season closely. Picture: Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images
Stacey Marinkovich and the selectors will be watching the final rounds of the Super Netball season closely. Picture: Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images

“Everybody’s season is practically alive in some capacity.”

What players do under that pressure — how they react to various match-ups, including against international players who will feature prominently in Birmingham; how consistent they are across four quarters; how they stand up for their teams in key moments; will all count.

“It’s good in terms of what I’m looking for. You want to see pressured environments, you want to see games that matter and performances that count, so the league has certainly done us a favour in that regard,” Marinkovich said.

But as has been the case for the past two years, Covid will play its part in the conversation.

While Games organisers are yet to finalise their playbook regarding Covid replacements, it’s unlikely teams will be able to bring in travelling reserves after competition starts, meaning selectors have to have a versatile squad capable of covering for any injury or illness.

This has always been the case in major competition but with the possibility of several players being ruled out with Covid, it become an even more important consideration.

Liz Waton will spearhead the Diamonds’ Commonwealth Games campaign. Picture: James Worsfold/Getty Images
Liz Waton will spearhead the Diamonds’ Commonwealth Games campaign. Picture: James Worsfold/Getty Images

Marinkovich said “every scenario” needed to be able to be covered within the squad.

“If someone isn’t available to play for five days, what are you going to do with the rest of your group?

“It’s not only the performance in its rawness of what’s our best combination (that we have to consider) but it’s also how do you protect the combinations and be able to play at a standard consistently if you need to rotate or if a player is not available.

“You can’t have your game plan revolving around one person because of the nature of Covid — you just can’t guarantee (they’ll be there).

“Everyone we select, we have to have the confidence that we look to our line-up and go, that player could start in that particular situation and carry the team, or carry the performance required to be successful for four quarters.”

Originally published as Commonwealth Games 2022: Diamonds coach says squad may still expand based on Super Netball performances

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