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Australian Netballer Sharelle McMahon

Netball Australia's Sharelle McMahon speaks to WSR on their recent Test Series win against World Number 1 New Zealand

Australia's Sharelle McMahon
With only a day or so between each test match in this series, how did you find it as a player? Did you manage to get on the court to train, or was the preparation all in discussions etc? How do you handle injuries when there is such a short recovery time between games?
It was certainly tough, but also something we need to be prepared for because in the World Champs next year we will have games day after day. What made this harder is the fact that we also had to travel in between the games. Luckily though everyone pulled up really well and we had no major injuries to contend with
Australia won the first test of the series, but lost the second – what happened between the first two games that made the difference?
I think we didn’t quite stand up to the physical pressure as well in the second game and we became a little rushed which gave NZ more chances to force us into error in attack
In the final test match, your defence, in particular, was inspired? Did you work on anything specific in training to turn over so many balls?
We have been working hard for a long time on our defensive efforts – and that means everyone on court, right from the goal shooter to the goal keeper. They have a great attacking line and a lot of confidence to put the high ball up to Irene, so the more pressure we put onto their attackers, the more opportunity our defenders have to create mistakes..

Australia Netball Continued
Last time you played New Zealand on their home soil, they defeated you by 20 goals. What do you think made the difference this time?
I think the difference in this series was the confidence the team had and the fact that we had more than 5 days together to prepare! In the test last year things started to go wrong (not least of which was Liz hurting her knee early in the first quarter!) and because we hadn’t had the time yet to form strong combinations and understanding on court it seems that the harder we tried, the worse things got.
You have several new faces in the Australian team – Susan Pratley and the von Bertouch sisters. How do you think they have settled into the team, and what do they add to your playing style?
They have all fitted into the team so well…sometimes it’s hard to believe that I’ve only been playing with Susan since the beginning of the year! The Von Bertouch sisters have a great combination and their speed is great which is an aspect of our game that we wanted to ensure as a team we keep developing.
And how did you regroup before the final match? Did Norma Plummer or Liz Ellis give you anything in particular to focus on?
We knew all along that we had the game plan to win and it really just was a matter of keeping everything in control and also to make sure we were making things as difficult as possible for them.

Who are the teams you most fear at next year’s competition?
We don’t fear anyone, but there are teams that we will be keeping an eye on - Apart from the World Champions NZ, Jamaica has always pushed us and we even drew with them at this years Comm Games and England has been on the steady improve over the past few years, so it is certainly not a certainty that NZ will meet Aust in the final – there is still much hard work to do before we get there.
And what are going to be the particular challenges that you envisage when playing in Fiji?
I think the heat will certainly play a part, so we will be doing some work up in Darwin to ensure that we are acclimatised and ready for that heat and humidity

Some of the umpiring during the series seemed to be a little erratic – as a player, how does that affect you? Are there ways that you think IFNA could help international umpires to prepare better for this type of high intensity game?
As players it is important to recognise that, just like we come up against different playing styles when we play other countries, you come up against different umpiring styles as well. I think it is a challenge for some umpires because they are not used to umpiring games of the same speed and physicality
New Zealand’s Silver Ferns are the reigning World Champions – the next time you meet them competitively could be in next year’s World Championships finals. How does this series win leave the psychological balance between the two nations?
I think the last year or 2 has been a steep learning curve for the Aussie Netball Team and any time we win together it just adds a little more confidence within ourselves and the new combinations. I think NZ still have every right to go into the WC’s as favourites and we have to remember that the 2 wins we had were only by a couple of goals, so even though it was great to have the wins, we still have a lot of hard work to do over the next 8 months.
What will you do between now and Christmas/now and the World Championships next summer?

We are having a bit of a break between now and Christmas which is great because it has been a very busy and intense couple of years. Obviously we will all be keeping our fitness up over that period, but we won’t start training together as a team until the new year, when we have a few trips planned and lots of training camps!!

Interview by Netball PR Rona Hunnisett for WSR
for further information contact [email protected]

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