HIGH HOPES: April Brandley, pictured in action against the South Africa Proteas, at AIS on August 30, 2017 in Canberra, [CONTRY]. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)
HIGH HOPES: April Brandley, pictured in action against the South Africa Proteas, at AIS on August 30, 2017 in Canberra, [CONTRY]. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images) Mark Nolan

Pressure no problem for Diamonds

NETBALL: Heading into the Commonwealth Games as hot favourites for a golden victory comes with plenty of added pressure, but it's something the Australian Diamonds are taking in their stride, says defensive talent April Brandley.

The Diamonds will head into the Games next week seeking to defend their 2014 Glasgow gold medal, and are in prime form after recently taking out the Quad Series and Constellation Cup series.

And while there were some high expectations surrounding the team, Brandley said they weren't fazed.

"I guess it's (expectations) a record of our past success which is always awesome for us," she said.

"I think the pressure is a privilege to wear (especially) with such a rich history of winning at the Comm Games."

After checking into the athlete's village at the Gold Coast on Tuesday, the Diamonds have travelled to the Sunshine Coast to set up shop for an intensive four-day training camp.

While on the Coast the national squad will hit the USC Stadium courts for two practice matches against the Queensland Firebirds and Sunshine Coast Lightning.

Brandley has already gained some international experience (21 caps) with the Diamonds, but faces some added pressure of her own too as she gears up for a maiden appearance at the Games.

However, although she was still pinching herself about the opportunity, she had embraced the situation.

"It's exciting for me to be in my first Comm Games so I guess I'm just trying to take it all in," she said.

"We've got half the group that have been before and half the group that haven't so it's a good balance."

Getting court time against some quality opposition this week, including the Lightning, would prove ideal to polish off preparations, according to Brandley.

"Just to have that chance to gel together as a group is really important," she said.

"It's great that we get to play against the Lightning, obviously being the winners of SSN (Suncorp Super Netball) last year, and it's about us connecting and getting some good combinations and teamwork out there."

Diamonds teammate and fellow defensive force Jo Weston (10 caps) is also on the cusp of a maiden appearance on the Commonwealth Games stage and relished this week's training camp.

"We had a couple of practice matches when we were in camp in Canberra but being on the Sunshine Coast in the right climate and also against some really tough competition will (be great)," she said.

Diamonds will play Lightning at 3.30pm on Saturday.



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