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Australia as tough as ever: Southby

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 26/01/2017 Daniel Gilhooly

Getting a sucker-punch win over Australia in the first round of the Quad Series will be easier said than done, according to the Silver Ferns.

The trans-Tasman netball powerhouses square off in Durban on Sunday morning (NZT), with preparation likely to play a large part in determining the outcome of the off-season Test.

New Zealand are arguably closer to full strength, although they must cater for the absence of injured wing defence Kayla Cullen and midcourt great Laura Langman, who will miss her first Test since 2004. Langman is ineligible after choosing to play in this year's Australian domestic league.

The Diamonds have their issues at the attacking end.

Towering goal shoot Caitlin Bassett, who was so influential in 2016, is rested along with lively goal attack Natalie Medhurst.

Versatile shooter Stephanie Wood was a late withdrawal, leaving Silver Ferns coach Janine Southby racing for the video archive.

"The way they play when Caitlin Bassett is on court is quite different to when she's not," Southby told NZ Newswire.

"So we've had to go and look at footage from other areas in the ANZ Championship, asking our players to do their prep for what they're likely to come up against."

NSW Swifts pair Caitlin Thwaites and Susan Pettitt are a chance to combine, although athletic Queensland Firebirds Gretel Tippett could be employed.

Either way, Southby wants the world champions pressured more effectively than last year.

In her first year as head coach, New Zealand managed only one win from five trans-Tasman Tests.

An inability to slow the Australians through the court and force turnover ball was an area to improve, she said, along with reducing their error count on attack.

However, she doesn't expect any favours from the Sharni Layton-led Diamonds.

"We know with Australia that they are always going to be really physical, really fast and furious.

"They're certainly uncompromising.

"We've talked about it and we know mentally what they're going to bring to us."

The two other teams in the Quad Series, South Africa and England, clash straight afterwards.

New Zealand's Tests against them are both in the UK next week.

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