Netball: Australia Diamonds prepare for 'ridiculously tough' Silver Ferns challenge

Australian Diamonds are bracing for what they've described as their toughest challenge in almost a decade.

Later this month, the side will travel to New Zealand, where they'll spend two weeks in quarantine, before taking on the Silver Ferns in a four-test Constellation Cup next month.

And COVID-19 could also mean that - for the first time since 2012 - they'll enter the series as underdogs.

The Silver Ferns last won the annual trans-Tasman competition nearly a decade ago, but since winning the 2019 World Cup, they have gained momentum and now face a golden opportunity to win back the elusive trophy.

"If you're playing on home soil, and you don't have to do the quarantine and things like that, your preparation is certainly different," Diamonds coach Stacey Mironkovich tells Newshub.

Because of the pandemic, the Ferns will host the Diamonds for all four fixtures, rather than travel back and forth between the two countries, which is a huge advantage for the New Zealanders.

"Beating the Kiwis once is a really tough thing to do," says Aussie shooter Caitlin Bassett. "But to do it four times in a row in a short space of time is ridiculously tough."

A lot has changed for the Diamonds since their last test 18 months ago, including their coach.

"There's no greater privilege to represent our country, but also to go against the biggest rival in our sport," says Mironkovich. "They are the current world champions."

Meanwhile, the Silver Ferns are fresh off a 3-0 series sweep against England.

"It's a perfect opportunity for us to get out there stamp our authority and prove that, although it hasn't been the perfect preparation for us, we can get out there and play fantastic netball," Bassett says. 

While they have plenty of fresh faces, the trademark Aussie mentality remains the same. 

"It might be a different name on the back of the dress, but the Diamonds still have the expectation that we are the best and we are going to win," Bassett adds.

"We're going to be carrying that mentality with us."

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