PRACTICE MATCH: Stephanie Wood for the Diamonds against the Lightning at the University of the Sunshine Coast.
PRACTICE MATCH: Stephanie Wood for the Diamonds against the Lightning at the University of the Sunshine Coast. John McCutcheon

Wood's long range shooting a big boost to Diamonds: captain

NETBALL: Australian captain Caitlin Bassett believes the long-range shooting ability of fellow Sunshine Coaster Stephanie Wood should be a "massive advantage" to the national side during the Commonwealth Games.

The Diamonds are set to open their campaign against Northern Ireland at the Gold Coast on Thursday, after meeting the Lightning in a practice match at Sippy Downs on Saturday.

They're the team to beat, after also winning at Glasgow four years ago.

Goal shooter Bassett said goal attack Wood, who wasn't in the team in Scotland, adds another dimension to the side.

"To watch her development over the last couple of years has been spectacular."

"Just her ability to get in the circle and put up that long shot is a massive advantage for our team."

The duo trains together and play alongside one another at the Lightning in Super Netball, where they have forged a formidable combination.

They regularly practice against clubmates Geva Mentor and Karla Mostert, who are key defenders for England and South Africa, which has allowed them to enhance their skills.

"We have the unique opportunity to play against international (players) every week when we're at training," Bassett said.

Wood and Susan Pettitt are likely to be among those used around the goal circle in the Australian team during the Commonwealth Games.

"They're both different players and I think that's a positive. We don't want any two of our players to be the same," Bassett said.

"Variation is what works so well for our team."

The Diamonds produced a solid showing against the Lightning to fine-tune their preparations ahead of the Games.

Bassett was particularly impressed by the work at the back of the court.

"Having Laura Geitz back in that defensive end really gives us a lot more movement back there and the opportunity to pick up some ball," she said.

"I think she came out and took some really nice fliers."

For Bassett, there was the unusual scenario of playing against her usual side.

"It was a strange feeling playing against my team."


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