The West

Australia has created its own monsters
Australian netball captain Laura Geitz. Picture: Getty Images

Forget looking across the ditch. The Australian netball team's biggest threat in the quest for Glasgow glory has been festering in their backyard.

The success of the ANZ Championship has prompted netballers from across the world to join the trans-Tasman league.

And England has benefited as much from the high level of competition as the Diamonds and Silver Ferns.

That poses a danger for Australia, who meet the old sporting enemy in the second match of the 2014 Commonwealth Games series.

English pair Eboni Beckford-Chambers, who won the past two most valuable player awards at West Coast Fever, and Geva Mentor, a star for the Melbourne Vixens, have strengthened their national team's defensive qualities from their time in Australia.

It presents debutant Diamonds goal shooter Tegan Caldwell, 23, with added pressure if she is to ensure points production is high enough to secure Australia their first Commonwealth Games netball gold medal in 12 years.

So she has sought the advice of retired greats Catherine Cox and, more recently, Sharelle McMahon on how to handle the England clamps.

"We do play against the England defenders in the ANZ so we do know a bit about them, however, Geva and Eboni are a combination we don't see together so there is a bit of unknown," said Caldwell, who has seen a great deal of Vixens teammate Mentor.

"I know there have been some pretty high-profile players that have been in front of me.

"I just want to learn from them and embrace it all.

"I didn't follow netball much growing up but now having played with Sharelle, having her this year as (Vixens) goal coach and knowing she has so much knowledge has been such a plus.

"I want to draw anything from her.

"She has been amazing to me and she was the one handed me my first Australian dress.

"I feel very privileged for that."

England have won the bronze medal at the past two Games.

But it is the double-overtime loss to New Zealand in the final at the 2010 Commonwealth Games that burns within the Australian players and coaches involved in the epic encounter.

However, captain Laura Geitz highlighted the changes in the Diamonds line-up and said that some wouldn't carry any emotional baggage into the Glasgow campaign.

"Tegan can't probably remember the last time Australia won the netball gold medal," Geitz said. "Were you born Tegs?

"A lot of us who were involved in the Delhi grand final know how tough it was on all of us.

"In saying that we recognise there is a lot of tough competition out there in England, Jamaica and South Africa.

"There is a lot of discussion about Australia and New Zealand but I think we are kidding ourselves if we think we can just waltz into that gold medal match."

Australia start their campaign today against Wales.

The West Australian

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