While the odds are against Australian beating New Zealand in the Bledisloe Cup, the Diamonds can restore pride with a clean sweep in the netball series.
They have some way to go to match New Zealand’s Bledisloe Cup rugby dominance but Australia’s netballers are building a record of All Blacks-like proportions.
Coach Lisa Alexander’s world champion Diamonds will chase their 17th straight Test win when they attempt to complete a 4-0 series clean sweep of world No.2 New Zealand in Auckland on Wednesday night.
If they’re successful, the pain will be keenly felt in New Zealand, where netball runs second only to rugby, as it will be a ninth straight win in trans-Tasman clashes for the Diamonds.
The Diamonds already have the Constellation Cup in their keeping for another year but they are hungry to achieve the first clean sweep since the series’ inception in 2010.
Alexander is a big rugby union fan and is doubtless aware of the records the world champion All Blacks have built in recent times, including a 12-year hold on the Bledisloe Cup against the Wallabies.
They also had a Test record-equalling winning streak of 17 that only fell short of a new mark when the Wallabies eked out a 12-12 draw in their first Bledisloe clash this year.
The Silver Ferns’ hopes of snapping the Diamonds’ 16-Test streak on Wednesday were badly hit when their inspirational skipper Casey Kopua was ruled out for six months after dislocating her kneecap in the third Test in Sydney at the weekend.
Australian defender Julie Corletto said motivation within the Australian squad remained as high as ever despite the match being a dead rubber.
“We continually want to improve as a team,” Corletto said.
“There were certain things from each of the previous Tests that we weren’t happy with and we want to address so we continually want to get better.”
Corletto’s defensive combination with Diamonds skipper Laura Geitz has been a shining light of the series, suffocating New Zealand’s shooters.
“We’ve got a really good understanding in the circle and the defensive end,” she said.
“It’s like we know what each other is thinking and, when it’s like that, you can switch around and work together really well because it just kind of happens.
“It sometimes takes a while to get that feeling.”
Corletto expected the Silver Ferns to regroup on their home soil.
“Obviously they will be hurting.
“They will come out firing against us and redeem themselves from the first three games.
“No one likes to have games like that so that will be extra motivation for them.”
Queensland Firebirds defender Clare McMeniman has come into the team to replace Rebecca Bulley for the remaining Constellation Cup match and two-Test series against England.