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Aussie netballers training for gold

12 Jan 06 07:14

Selina Gilsenan in action at
the Australian Netball
squad training session.

Australia’s netballers have hit the court for an exhausting training program in Melbourne, kicking off a five day training camp aimed at fielding the best possible team to defend their Commonwealth Games gold in March.

The Melbourne camp is the first of a series of fortnightly training camps for the 15 players trying out for a place in the final 12-person Games team, to be announced on 10 February.

Australian coach Norma Plummer said the focus of this week’s camp is to build teamwork.

"It's been very good so far and we've been able to have a full daily training environment," Ms Plummer said. "At this stage, it's all about getting to know one another.”

Just ten players among the hopefuls are returning from Australia’s international tour late last year, eager for the chance to face their traditional New Zealand rivals in what is widely tipped to be the gold medal showdown.

"The new kids on the block have been initiated this week," Ms Plummer said. "The seniors came up with Learner Plates and P-Plates for them which they're having to wear to training and back."

Among the new faces is experienced defender Janine Ilitch, who is on the comeback after a nine month break during which she gave birth to her son Heath.

And less experienced players vying for a Games position include shooters Susan Pratley and Kate Beveridge, defenders Susan Fuhrmann and Rebecca Strachan, and centre court player Laura von Bertouch.

Ms Furhmann says she’s just happy to be among such a world-class team.

"I've had a recent knee injury and I'm just getting back on the court so the girls have been excellent to me. I'm totally honoured to be here, it's something you dream about as a little kid to be able to train with the best,” she said.

The Commonwealth Games Netball competition will take place from 17 – 24 March at the State Netball and Hockey Centre, with the finals at the Multi-Purpose Venue (Melbourne Park) on Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 March.

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