Diamonds welcome NZ pressure
Photo Source: AAP
Australia's world-leading netball team are in no mood to join the list of recent sporting upset victims, heading into their Constellation Cup series against arch rivals New Zealand, starting on Sunday in Sydney.
The Diamonds play four Tests in 12 days against the Silver Ferns after beating the Kiwis by five goals in last month's Quad Series decider.
Following Sunday's game, the teams clash in Launceston three days later, before crossing the Tasman for Tests on October 15 in Auckland and on October 20 in Invercargill.
Last years' Constellation Cup series was split 2-2 and the recent Quad Series clash emphasised world No.2 New Zealand remained Australia's closest challenger.
The Ferns subsequently swept world No.4 Jamaica in a three-Test home series.
"The pressure is on and we consider pressure is a privilege," Diamonds shooter and vice-captain Caitlin Bassett told AAP.
"I guess in AFL and NRL, it's been about the underdogs the last week and we're No.1 in the world.
"We definitely want to keep that position and we're going to work hard to stay there."
Australia won all three of their matches in the Quad Series, defeating South Africa by 25 goals and England by 20.
"We felt that we built across the series," Bassett said.
"We were happy with our final performance against the Kiwis but we know we're going to have to take it up a notch in this Constellation Cup series.
"Playing them four times is a tough task - every single game is going to be a real challenge.
"Playing four games in four different cities, I think a lot of people don't realise how taxing the travel is."
Prolific scorer Bassett notched her best international haul of 53 goals in the Quad Series clash with New Zealand.
She felt the Silver Ferns were copying elements of Australia's style, but expected the Kiws to try to throw different combinations at her team over the next two weeks.
Bassett, who made her international debut eight years ago this week, relished being part of the Diamonds' leadership group.
"To have that bestowed on me - it's chosen by our group - is very humbling," she said.
"It's definitely given me a lot to work on because it's a different experience for me to be one of the leaders in the team, but I've been really enjoying it."