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Diamonds face 'unknown' NZ World Cup side

  • Diamonds face 'unknown' NZ World Cup side

The Diamonds admit arch-rivals New Zealand remain something of an "unknown quantity" nine days out from the Netball World Cup, despite their best research efforts on the new-look Silver Ferns.

Defending champions Australia face Zealand in Sydney on Sunday week in their third pool match of the tournament - the first time the top two ranked nations have met so early due to a new World Cup format.

But perhaps even more alien is the prospect of contending with a Kiwi line-up markedly different from the one they defeated in last year's Commonwealth Games final and subsequent four-Test Constellation Cup clean sweep.

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The Diamonds squad have been busy sussing out the Silver Ferns' World Cup squad, which is without seasoned goal shooter Cathrine Latu and experienced campaigners Joline Henry and Liana Leota.

Untested 20-year-old Malia Paseka, once tipped as a future Diamond during her decade living in Australia, got a shock call-up in Latu's place as New Zealand aim to snap a nine-match losing streak against Australia.

Coach Lisa Alexander held a conference call with players last week to talk tactics and has picked apart New Zealand's resounding warm-up Test wins over seventh-ranked Fiji and the Norma Plummer-coached world No.6 South Africa.

But she admits she's little the wiser about how the Kiwis will go against top-four teams such as England and Jamaica.

"They're a bit more of an unknown quantity for us," Alexander told AAP.

"We've got our strategies in place and a bit of unpredictability on our side too, because if you're going to give more of the same then you're going to come undone.

"We know we have to improve and that's part of the reason we did that work, to make sure we're on top of the current patterns of play of the opposition teams."

The Silver Ferns are expected to bring a more free-flowing attacking style than in the past when their shooting circle was run by one principal holding shooter.

Veteran Diamonds defender Julie Corletto has been keeping a particularly close eye on Paseka and fellow newcomer Bailey Mes as they settle in with established Kiwi shooters Maria Tutaia and Jodi Brown.

The retiring Corletto has a bit of inside knowledge having played with Paseka, Mes and Tutaia during her time at New Zealand's Northern Mystics.

"But they've certainly improved their game since I was over there," she said.

"Malia Paseka has improved out of sight and her fitness and physical strength is a huge attribute.

"It is a different (attacking) end than we're used to playing.

"They'll be very fast and agile which is something that the Kiwis haven't really had in the past. They've always had that tall and strong shooter to go to."

The Diamonds opted against playing any warm-up Tests to allow players to recover after the ANZ Championship season but they will gather in Newcastle on Friday for a final training camp before the World Cup starts on August 7.

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