Via The West Australian
Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander has anointed Courtney Bruce as Australia’s No.1 goalkeeper heading into the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, declaring returning former captain Laura Geitz would have to fight her way back to top billing.
Bruce and fellow West Australian Caitlin Bassett were named yesterday in the 12-strong netball squad for the April Games where anything short of a gold medal will be considered a disappointment for the world’s best team.
Captain Bassett, 29, is the most capped player in the squad and will lead a side which features six players, including Bruce, 24, who are competing in their maiden Commonwealth Games.
Geitz returns to the fold for the first time since the 2015 Constellation Cup following the birth of her first child, while star defender Sharni Layton did not do enough after a break from the sport to earn selection.
Alexander said Geitz was picked on the form she showed at training camp and her experience was just the icing on the cake. The selectors had been impressed with the enormous improvement from Bruce since she broke into the squad a year ago.
“We have been extremely pleased with what she has done at keeper,” Alexander said. “In this last series she really had a strong series. She’s probably got that No.1 mantle and Laura has got to fight her way back in.
“Courtney’s first time away with us in January 2017 was a bit of an eye-opener for her.
“It’s just great seeing her out there and she’s really contributing. It’s a credit to her and the work she has done.”
Bruce played goal defence with Geitz at goalkeeper during the training camp and Alexander confirmed it was a combination she would consider at the Gold Coast tournament.
“The combination of Courtney at GD and Laura was very, very good and exciting,” Alexander said.
“To see Laura out there and doing her thing was terrific.”
Bruce said she would benefit from having Geitz in the side, having grown up watching her.
“Geitzy was in really good shape at training camp,” Bruce said.
“It was good to have her back. I know that come the Comm Games she has done the work and the preparation so she’ll be ready to go. We both bring something so different to that goalkeeper role.”
Bruce said she had a nervous wait to hear about her selection and then had to keep it from her West Coast Fever teammates after learning she was in the team last Wednesday.
“I kind of can’t fathom it at the moment,” she said.
“I’m really grateful that Lisa and the selectors have given me the opportunity.
“It’s been huge and crazy, I can’t believe that 18 months ago I was saying ‘Comm Games, I want to be there’, but now to actually be there and have gone through three Quad Series and a Constellation Cup and get out there and actually perform has been great.
“I definitely don’t want to take anything for granted. I want to just keep pushing. We want to walk home with gold.”
Bruce had her first session back with the Fever yesterday and was looking forward to facing star import Jhaniele Fowler at training.
Squad: Courtney Bruce, Laura Geitz, Susan Pettitt, Gabi Simpson (vc) , Stephanie Wood, Caitlin Bassett (c), April Brandley, Kim Ravaillion, Madi Robinson, Caitlin Thwaites, Liz Watson, Jo Weston.