The Australian Diamonds leadership group has been confirmed to lead the team in their Test series against England later this month.
Queensland Firebirds defender Clare McMeniman has been named acting captain, filling the position for the English series in the absence of Australian Diamonds captain Laura Geitz.
West Coast Fever shooter Caitlin Bassett and NSW Swifts defender Sharni Layton will serve as the team’s acting joint vice-captains.
McMeniman’s elevation to the position as acting captain for the three-Test series, which gets underway in Liverpool on Thursday, 21 January (AEDT), was endorsed by Netball Australia after the process of forming the new leadership group took place at the end of 2015 international season.
McMeniman becomes just the third Queenslander to captain (acting) Australia behind Vicki Wilson (42 Tests) and Geitz (29 Tests).
“It’s probably the highest honour that you could be given to captain your country,” McMeniman said.
“I have learnt so much and grown so much being a leader with Geitzy at the Firebirds. We’ve always thrown ideas off each other and I’ve been lucky enough to be under her leadership in both the Firebirds and Diamonds format.
“I don’t ever want to try and be Geitzy. I’m just hoping to bring myself to the role and am looking forward to working with all of the girls in England to keep lifting the Diamonds standards.”
Australian Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander is confident the trio will maintain the high standards set by the team’s leaders of the past.
“All three are excited to be working together as a leadership group and they are honored in regard to the faith shown in them by their peers and Netball Australia,” Alexander said.
“They’re really looking forward to writing a new chapter in the Diamonds story and this group will lead from the front.”
Bassett, the reigning Liz Ellis Diamond winner, is “humbled” to be given this vote of confidence.
“I’ve gone from being the baby of the team to now one of the most experienced so I’m looking forward to this opportunity,” Bassett said.
“I want to have a really successful tour and also make it a fun one as well for the young girls because I remember how more relaxed I was when I first made the team when the older girls made it a positive environment for me.”
Layton is excited to be working with McMeniman and Bassett in the leadership group and said they all bring different qualities to the roles that complement each other.
“We’re all there to support each other, support the team and Lisa and our support staff to get best out of ourselves for the tour and really consolidating our culture and making sure we are setting the benchmark,” Layton said.
"The Diamonds as a squad, not just the current team, are building a great reputation and we want to continue to do that. Our role is to show the young players the way.
"I’m delighted for Clare, she brings so much to this side. Clare always has the team’s interest at heart and I know she will do a great job in her role as captain."
2016 Tour of England Fixture (all times AEDT)
Test 1 - England Roses v Australian Diamonds
Thursday 21 January 2016
Echo Arena, Liverpool
Test 2 - England Roses v Australian Diamonds
Saturday 23 January 2016
Copper Box Arena, London
Test 3 - England Roses v Australian Diamonds
Monday 25 January 2016
Copper Box Arena, London
photos Janos Schmidt