After a Nationals defeat in 2016 to an in-form New South Wales, returning Coach Matthew Blomeley, Assistant Coach Esther Latimour and their team are looking to go one better on the Gold Coast in 2017. Filled with a core from last year’s team the 23 & Under side is hoping they are able to build on the foundations already laid and take the extra step of becoming Nationals Champions in 2017.
The goaling line up is led by Co-Captain Cameron Allum; “Bambi” has been a previous Australian 23 & Under player and provides an athletic target in the goal circle. Assisting in the circle is sharp-shooter Brayden Pastore. Bray has been known for a number of years for his accurate shot from range in the circle. Rounding out the attacking circle is Josh Smith. The unfortunate recipient of an ACL tear resulting in him being sidelined for the 2016 championships, he comes as an unknown quantity on-court to many opposition teams.
Returning to the midcourt again this year is Brandon D’Monte, known for his ability to turn a game with well timed intercepts whilst also being a steady attacker, “B” has been a staple of the middies for a number of years. Used as a utility and impact player in 2016, the self-appointed “hybrid” Jake Dambrauskas is determined to go one better in this division after successful stints previously in Victorian and Australian 19 & Under teams. A stand out tournament with the Australian 20 & Under team last year, Adam Franz has made the move to the next level with skill and determination. Josh Burns also makes the jump from 20s this year after a number of Australian 20 & Under appearances. Now focussing as a midcourt, his terrific netball brain will be hard to match up on. Jake Noonan makes his debut for Victoria this year, with the ability to play through the middle and in the circle, “Noons” will be out to prove why he has been selected on his first outing.
The defensive circle this year sees only Cameron Martin return from last year’s circle. Co-captaining this year after a successful run in the Australian 23 & Under team, Cam will be looking to lead by example and provide a strong and experienced presence on court. Backing up Cam this year is former 23 Development player Jake McSwain, this physical but clean defender had an amazing 2016 and is taking the next step in his absolute stride this year. Not to be forgotten, Luke Marko Rawlings is also pushing for a starting defensive position. After shutting down some of New Zealand’s best goalers in their Nationals last year, Luke is determined to show this ability against Australia’s finest 23 & Under goalers this year.