Sunshine Coast Lightning goal shooter Cara Koenen is pushing for a permanent spot in the Diamonds’ starting team.
Sunshine Coast Lightning goal shooter Cara Koenen is pushing for a permanent spot in the Diamonds’ starting team.

New Diamond sparkling against Silver Ferns

Cara Koenen's starring performance in Australia's Constellation Cup win over New Zealand could signal a changing of the guard under new Diamonds coach Stacey Marinkovich.

With long-time first-choice goal shooter Caitlin Bassett relegated to the bench on Wednesday night, 25-year-old Koenen made the most of her starting Diamonds debut, scoring 29 goals and securing player-of-the-match honours in Australia's series-levelling 45-36 victory in Christchurch.

The Sunshine Coast Lightning shooter also impressed in her maiden Diamonds appearance the previous night when she replaced 32-year-old Bassett - who has been stripped of team's permanent captaincy as part of a leadership overhaul - in the final quarter of Australia's 49-44 loss.

Koenen is hopeful of another opportunity in game three of the series on Saturday, but regardless, is encouraged by the chances she has already been given by Marinkovich.

 

 

"I was rapt with my performance that I played in the quarter on Tuesday night, and it was really cool that Stacey, not having had her as a coach for very long, was able to back me (for a starting spot)," Koenen said.

"Stacey will make best call for the team. She obviously wants to have a look at combinations so I just want do my bit, whether I'm in the (squad of) 12 or not, or where I'm in the (starting) seven or not, we've all got a massive part to play getting through these Tests - we're all in this together,"

"Stacey's come into the fold and has got a vision of what she wants the Diamonds to look like, and type of netball that we want to be playing, and that's exciting.

"We've got a pretty young group on the tour, we've got a whole heap of debutants, so it's definitely an exciting time in Australian netball, and we're looking forward to building some connections as we get through some more Tests and through a bit more training."

Koenen was supportive of Marinkovich's tour leadership strategy, which includes a Diamonds team captain being named on the day of each of the four matches.

Bassett was skipper on Tuesday, while Liz Watson led the team on Wednesday.

"I think it's fantastic," Koenen said.

"We have had such limited time together as a group, so ... the approach of rotating the captaincy is a really cool one.

"We've got so many really strong leaders in the group. I think everyone can be a leader in their own right and Stacey's really highlighted that fact.

"She wants to have a look at what everyone does when given that responsibility, and how they respond."

Originally published as New Diamond sparkling against Silver Ferns


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