Diamonds well placed to cover star losses
DIAMONDS coach Lisa Alexander says the Australian netball team's structure has been built to withstand mass retirements of senior players and the loss of hundreds of games of experience.
Sharni Layton yesterday made it four Australian veterans to retire in the last 10 days, but Alexander is confident she has the personnel capable of plugging gaps ahead of next year's World Cup.
Former captain Layton, who had been on a long mental health sabbatical from the Diamonds, announced on Wednesday that she would retire from all forms of the game at the end of the Super Netball season.
Her decision follows on from former captain Laura Geitz, shooter Susan Pettitt and midcourter Madi Robinson also ending their international careers.
Alexander said while the Diamonds quartet are "irreplaceable", there is talent waiting in the wings to make their own mark on the game.
"Our system means we can plug gaps, that we have players constantly coming through, putting their hands up," Alexander said.
"We have Jess (Anstiss) and Jamie Lee (Price) now in the Diamonds squad who are both world youth team graduates.
"Luckily for us last year Courtney Bruce put her hand up (when Layton took a break) and so will (fellow defenders) Emily Mannix and Sarah Klau.
"Part of Sharni's legacy is she helped develop those young players. I will always be very grateful for that."
Layton said she knew almost a year ago the 2018 Super Netball season would be her last.
"I've given absolutely everything I have to this game, to my teammates and to myself as an athlete and it's time to hand the baton over to the next generation of stars," said Layton who made her Australian debut in 2009 before winning two world titles, a Commonwealth Games gold and making 46 appearances for her country.
"I've been on this incredible ride since 2004. I've moved 12 times over 10 years to pursue this dream of mine, and I owe everything to this sport and all that it's given me over the journey."