Sharni Layton’s magnificent play in Australia’s thumping series win over England has eased fears of Laura Geitz’s uncertain future in the national colours.
There had been speculation Geitz might pull the pin following Australia’s World Cup triumph in Sydney last year, but she’s since confirmed her availability for this year’s ANZ Championship with Queensland and it’s still hoped she will return to the international fold.
Coach Lisa Alexander has even flagged the possibility that Geitz could become the first netballer to juggle motherhood and international duty, though the goal keeper herself has previously ruled out staying on until the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.
But with the Diamonds skipper rested for the three-Test tour of England, it has opened an opportunity for Layton to prove she’s more than a fill-in.
The acting vice-captain is a fully fledged star in her own right, and, with consecutive play-of-the-match awards helping Australia to an unassailable 2-0 lead, has proven to Alexander that the defence is in safe hands regardless of Geitz’s availability.
The NSW Swifts star, and reigning ANZ Championship Finals series MVP, led everybody in both interceptions and deflections in the opening two Tests – and had a profound influence as Australia were able to come away with victories each time.
“She’s on fire. She’s an absolute pleasure to play with,” wing defence Gabi Simpson told AAP.
“If you’re tired and you’ve got Sharni behind you yelling at you to pick yourself up, you pick up. You listen to that voice.
“She’s fantastic. She’s a game changer. Right now, she’s absolutely killing it. I’m glad she’s on my team.”
Despite being in arguably career-best form following a stellar season leading the Swifts to last year’s grand final, Layton said it was what she demanded of herself now as a senior player in the squad.
“I’ve had a bit more experience at international level now and I don’t expect anything less than that from myself every time I step on the court,” she said.
“We’ve been working our arses off in the off-season. We’ve been training super hard since November.
“When you get all that pent up anger that you’ve got from putting in in the weights room and out on the track, you take it out on the court, because that’s why you do it.”
Australia will look to seal a series clean sweep on Sunday (Monday 0530 AEDT) in the third and final Test at London’s Copper Box Arena.