(Via Netball Australia)
Head coach Stacey Marinkovich wants the Australian team to be known as the “smiling assassins” of the Fast5 Netball World Series.
Music, dancing and crowd-pleasing athleticism are all part of the entertainment package for the international tournament to be played at Melbourne Arena on 27 and 28 October.
Marinkovich wants her players to engage in the fun of the different format.
But underneath the smiles will be a thorough, strategic and disciplined preparation designed to win Australia its first Fast5 title.
“It’s really intense. Fast5 has that element of fun and excitement,” the Australian coach said.
“We are the smiling assassins. We want to go out and enjoy the brand that we play. But it would be silly to think we won’t be out there without being at full force and expecting to win.”
This will be Marinkovich’s second campaign with the Australian team after guiding them to third last year.
New Zealand have so far been the benchmark team in Fast5, winning six of the eight tournaments played since 2009.
Shortened team lists, three-point shots, power plays and rolling substitutions provide fresh tactical challenges for players and coaches. The extra space provided by leaving off the wing attack and wing defence means traditional tactics don’t necessarily apply.
When the Australians assemble for the pre-tournament camp, Marinkovich will have every move mapped out so her players can approach the helter skelter action with confidence.
“There’s quite a few new players involved who’ve not been exposed to this style of game. They’ve obviously got to get their heads around the different rules,” Marinkovich said.
“We’ve got footage of previous competitions, so we can make sure the players can see what the game’s about.
“We’ll highlight different things in the clips so they can understand strategy and the way we want them to play.”
Previous Australian Fast5 outfits have been blessed with the experience of international campaigners Clare Ferguson, Erin Bell, Susan Pettitt and Caitlin Thwaites.
While this year’s cohort is undoubtedly talented, few have international experience.
Kimberley Jenner, who made a big impression for the Queensland Firebirds in the 2018 Suncorp Super Netball season, Swift Sophie Garbin and Giant Kiera Austin are among the bright new talents in the Australian team.
It will also be an opportunity for the Fever’s Verity Charles who has been outstanding since switching permanently to centre from wing attack. The former Firebird will be expected to be a leader for the Australians.
“Verity has been a dominant player in the (SSN) competition in that centre role,” Marinkovich said.
“She’ll run the game. That’s what Fast5 is about – bouts of high intensity running and the ability to defend (well)”
Another player expected to shine after featuring last year is Kaylia Stanton.
“Kaylia showed last year with her long shot that she can provide great opportunities for us.
“She’ll provide a good dynamic in partnership with Sophie and Kiera in that circle.”