The West

Bassett braces for new challenge
Bassett braces for new challenge

Diamonds sharpshooter Caitlin Bassett expects New Zealand to be hell-bent on world title revenge as the rest of the other powerful netball nations look on at this Sunday's rematch in Perth.

The trans-Tasman rivals are scheduled to clash at Burswood Dome in the first meeting between the sides since the Australians came from six goals down at the world championships final in Singapore three months ago to snatch a 58-57 win.

Bassett, 23, was the hero that day, shooting the winning goal in the last second of overtime.

It continued a breakthrough year for the WA netballer, who has emerged as the national team's new golden girl after scoring a near-flawless 151 goals from 155 attempts at the championships.

She was named West Coast Fever's player of the year last month and is expected to be a strong contender for The West Australian-ANZ Sports Star of the Year award, to be announced on December 15.

The 192cm goal shooter has labelled the chance to test herself against the Silver Ferns in conjunction with the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth as an exciting opportunity.

"They know their strength is obviously their physicality," Bassett said of New Zealand.

"They love to beat us Aussies up, but we give it back to them just as much, so there's a good bit of biff out there on court."

Bassett had just five Test caps to her name heading into the world championships in July.

She said that simply being given opportunities for Australia was the reason behind her improvement, with an Achilles injury to veteran Sharelle McMahon opening the door.

"It's a real confidence booster just being put out there on court and having coaches like Plum (Norma Plummer) believe that you can do the job," Bassett said.

"Having players around you like Cath Cox, we've worked a lot one-on-one when we were over on tour in Singapore.

"Just knowing that you've got the support from players like that around you (builds your confidence)."

Bassett helped clinch the recent three-Test series sweep against England.

Her achievements will come under strong consideration in the race for the prestigious The West Australian-ANZ Sports Star award.

Nominations for the 2011 award close tomorrow.

WA Test cricket players Mike Hussey and Shaun Marsh, Tour Down Under winner Cameron Meyer, Formula One driver Daniel Ricciardo and Major League baseballer Luke Hughes could also make the short list of 12 finalists.

Last year's winner, gymnast Lauren Mitchell, will also come into calculations.

Mitchell finished fifth in last Sunday's final on the floor at the world gymnastics championships in Tokyo despite an ankle injury.

She earlier helped secure Australia's qualification for next year's Olympic Games in London.

The West Australian

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