Returning to the Australian netball squad after two years in retirement, Clare McMeniman says the time away helped reignite her passion for the game.
Clare McMeniman credits Australian netball captain Laura Geitz with sparking her comeback after capping her return from retirement with a national squad recall.
McMeniman was selected on Thursday in the Diamonds squad to take on New Zealand and England in next month’s series, only a season after spending two years out of the game.
She’s now poised to make her Test debut at age 29, six years after she was first selected in the Australian squad but never played a game.
Her comeback was first sparked by fellow defender Geitz, who McMeniman reunited with at the Queensland Firebirds this year.
“The original thought came from Geitzy,” said McMeniman on Thursday.
“She asked if I’d thought about coming back.
“I hadn’t, but the more I started to, the more I realised I had unfinished business.”
McMeniman now has the chance to claim the defender spot left vacant by the retirement of Bianca Chatfield following the Glasgow Commonwealth Games gold medal triumph last month.
She and fellow Firebird Rebecca Bulley are the only new faces in the Australian squad, with Bulley set to play the first three Constellation Cup Tests before McMeniman takes over for the last Test against the Silver Ferns and two Tests against England.
McMeniman retired from netball in 2011 after helping the Firebirds to a trans-Tasman championship title.
In her time away she worked full-time as a speech pathologist and travelled overseas with her partner for five months.
The defender said the break helped her to clear her mind, think about the future, and rediscover her love for the game.
“When I finished playing I had no plans of returning. I didn’t have a desire to continue,” McMeniman said.
“I needed time away from the sport to realise that I did want to come back again.”
McMeniman said some may view the break as detrimental to her career, as she left when she was playing well.
“But for me it’s something that I needed, not just physically but emotionally,” she said.
“It was the best thing I could have done to reignite that passion for the game.”
She doesn’t plan another retirement any time soon.
“You can’t really say what will happen from now until tomorrow,” McMeniman said.
“My immediate goals are to train hard and play well with the Diamonds if I get the opportunity to step out on court.”
McMeniman first made the Australian squad in 2008, but never played an international game.
“To have the opportunity and to achieve the goal of making the team is surreal,” she said.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve pulled a green and gold dress on.”
Australian squad: Caitlin Bassett, Rebecca Bulley, Tegan Caldwell, Julie Corletto, Laura Geitz, Kimberlee Green, Renae Hallinan, Sharni Layton, Clare McMeniman, Natalie Medhurst, Kim Ravaillion, Madi Robinson, Caitlin Thwaites.