Why Laura Geitz is back, baby
NETBALL: First-time mum Laura Geitz and veteran Susan Pettitt are beneficiaries of coach Lisa Alexander's hard-line policy of favouring current form over past history but fan favourite Sharni Layton is a casualty and will be missing from Australia's defence of their crown at the Commonwealth Games.
Alexander and the national selectors unveiled their Commonwealth Games 12 on Monday with Layton the highest-profile player to miss the cut and Geitz the best known to force her way into the side.
Former Diamonds captain Layton has been on an extended leave from the game due to exhaustion and has missed playing in Australia's last three international series while Geitz is on the comeback from the birth of her son Barney a year ago.
While also missing the last internationals series and absent from elite netball since 2015, former Australian captain Geitz impressed during match-play in a recent Diamonds camp to force her way back into the side sharpshooter Caitlin Bassett will captain on the Gold Coast.
"Sharni did a great job to get to the camp in January and we are very pleased with her progress but at the end of the day we make our decision on current form,'' said Alexander, who hopes Layton will be back playing for Australia at next year's world cup.
From the start of her reign back in 2012, Alexander has supported an open-door policy for netball mothers with Geitz admitting without her support she would have found it difficult to return to the court.
But with it the brilliant defender, who had her baby with her at the Australian Institute of Sport camp in January, is now heading to the 2018 Games to defend the gold medal she won with teammates Bassett, Kim Ravaillion, Madi Robinson and Caitlin Thwaites.
"If I was wanting to pursue the dream of a Commonwealth Games it would have been a really difficult decision for me if I had to let him stay at home while I was at camp," Geitz said recently.
Missing from the last Commonwealth Games team but a member of Australian side in Melbourne in 2006 and Delhi in 2010, is Pettitt who will be the only player to contest two home games after her maiden Commonwealth Games appearance 12 years ago.
Making their Games debuts will be defenders April Brandley, Courtney Bruce and Jo Weston, midcourters Gabi Simpson and Liz Watson and shooter Steph Wood.
Watson, at 23, is the youngest in the team with Pettitt, 10 years her senior, the oldest.
Diamonds Commonwealth Games Team
Name - test caps (state of origin/2018 Suncorp Super Netball team)
• Caitlin Bassett (captain) - 76 caps (Western Australia, Sunshine Coast Lightning)
• April Brandley - 21 caps (New South Wales, Collingwood Magpies)
• Courtney Bruce -10 caps (Western Australia, West Coast Fever)
• Laura Geitz - 64 caps (Queensland, Queensland Firebirds)
• Susan Pettitt - 64 caps (New South Wales, GIANTS Netball)
• Kim Ravaillion - 50 caps (New South Wales, Collingwood Magpies)
• Madi Robinson - 54 caps (Victoria, Collingwood Magpies)
• Gabi Simpson (vice-captain) - 25 caps (New South Wales, Queensland Firebirds)
• Caitlin Thwaites - 34 caps (Victoria, Collingwood Magpies)
• Liz Watson - 15 caps (Victoria, Melbourne Vixens)
• Jo Weston - 10 caps (Victoria, Melbourne Vixens)
• Stephanie Wood - 8 caps (Queensland, Sunshine Coast Lightning