Diamonds ready for van Dyk in decider
October 29, 2011
Always in your face ... Mo'onia Gerrard will battle against Liana Leota. Photo: Marina Neil
WORLD champions Australia expect New Zealand's gun shooter Irene van Dyk to be back and firing for tomorrow's series-deciding Test in Melbourne.
The 201-Test veteran was left out of the Silver Ferns side for the Test in Adelaide, where the home side levelled the series with a 51-44 victory.
New Zealand's new coach Waimarama Taumaunu gave 24-year-old Cathrine Latu her first outing against the Diamonds but, with the Constellation Cup on the line, she's unlikely to again sideline the world's most experienced international shooter.
Van Dyk, 39, is set to resume her shooting partnership with Maria Tutaia, the same duo who were pipped by the Australians by one goal in extra time of the world championship final in July.
Diamonds defender Julie Corletto said her side was prepared for any line-up at Hisense Arena but anticipated van Dyk would play.
''We expect her to play but we'll be getting ourselves prepared for any combination that they put out,'' Corletto said. ''We've been playing on Irene for so many years now, so we had to readjust. It was good to play against Latu in Adelaide and we know that we can get the job done.''
Corletto said the Australians had an advantage in that while their squad was mostly very young, they'd all played at the highest level.
The Kiwis, meanwhile, were looking to blood some new players following the retirement of midcourter Temepara George, an injury to regular skipper Casey Williams and the unlikelihood of van Dyk and Leana de Bruin being around for the next world championships.
In the first of the Tests on Australian soil in Perth, the Diamonds let New Zealand get away to an 11-goal lead before they eventually succumbed 49-48. Corletto said the start would again be important.
''That was a big focus for us in Adelaide and having four consistent quarters,'' Corletto said.
She said the Diamonds wanted to finish the year, during which they also reclaimed the world No.1 ranking, on a high. ''Both teams will be coming out firing right from the start. We both want this series as much as each other,'' she said. ''Winning world champs this year was fantastic for us but we want to finish off the year on a good note and win the Constellation Cup.''