Coach Lisa Alexander says in-form rookie goaler Tegan Caldwell will be key to Australia winning their first Commonwealth Games netball gold since 2002.
Australian netball coach Lisa Alexander is confident rookie goaler Tegan Caldwell can continue her stunning form as the Diamonds eye their first Commonwealth Games gold medal since 2002.
The national team flies out on Sunday for a training camp in Manchester ahead of their opening match against Wales on July 24.
Caldwell will make her Test debut at the Games after two years as part of the extended Australian squad.
Alexander said the 25-year-old deserved her spot in the line-up after an impressive trans-Tasman Championship season.
Caldwell was named MVP in the Melbourne Vixens’ recent grand final win over the Queensland Firebirds, shooting 29 goals at 91 per cent.
“It reflected the work that Tegan has put into her Australian commitments and that she took on board last year when she missed out on the team,” Alexander told SEN radio.
“She’s been rewarded by getting herself into the team and really performing well in the ANZ final.”
The coach said she was regularly reminded that New Zealand have relegated Australia to silver in the past two Commonwealth Games but, as a vastly different line-up, they carried no baggage.
Alexander took over as national coach in late 2011, succeeding Norma Plummer.
“We have our own mountain to climb and we’re focused on making sure we tick all the boxes on the way to that gold medal if we get that opportunity.”
While the Games have traditionally been a two-horse race between Australia and New Zealand, Alexander said this year’s contest would be more open than ever.
In their pool, Australia face England, who they lost a series to early last year.
She also rated Jamaica, who have twin towers Romelda Aiken and Jhaniele Fowler-Reid, as well as South Africa as genuine threats.
England have Vixens defender Geva Mentor in their line-up.
While Mentor plays in Melbourne alongside Caldwell and fellow Test representatives Madi Robinson and Bianca Chatfield, Alexander said she had plenty on the English star.
“I coached Geva for three years in Adelaide as her defence coach so I also have my inside knowledge on her as well.”