Australian netball team coach Lisa Alexander.
Australian netball team coach Lisa Alexander. PAUL MILLER

Coach wants Diamonds to go through year unbeaten

NETBALL: The Diamonds are on a mission for perfection, with coach Lisa Alexander setting her charges the task of producing an unblemished scorecard of international matches in 2017.

The Diamonds' goal is to retain their air of invincibility and mantle of top netball nation ahead of the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Alexander has set her players the mission of navigating the 2017 season without a loss, starting with their first international outing of the year against the Silver Ferns in Durban, South Africa, tomorrow morning (AEST).

It is their first game of the Quad Series, which also features South Africa and England.

The Diamonds came agonisingly short of the achievement last year, tainting their record in their second last international of the season against New Zealand.

Matches between the Diamonds and Silver Ferns are traditionally close.

The Silver Ferns claimed their only victory of the year over the Diamonds in a Constellation Cup 53-51 thriller in Launceston in October.

Alexander said the loss still stung but provided a valuable learning experience.

"The learning straight after that loss helped assist us to own the final Tests. They made a brilliant turnaround," said Alexander, who arrived in South Africa on Monday with the Diamonds.

"But I don't subscribe to the theory you have to have losses at some stage.

"Externally it is import to maintain that great positive vibe we have.

"People are proud of us. It makes people happy to see us do well. Sport is there to do that."

Australia is scheduled to play 10 internationals in 2017 as it builds towards the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.

The first three games will be against New Zealand, South Africa and England on the current leg of the Quad Series in South Africa and the UK.

The next round of matches with be the second bout of the Quad Series, to be played in Australia and New Zealand later this year, which will be followed by the annual four-match Constellation Cup between the Diamonds and Silver Ferns.

The Australian touring team boasts two new faces in midcourter Caitlyn Nevins and defender Courtney Bruce.

Gretel Tippett is expected to make an impression in the shooting circle on the current tour.

Alexander has rested several starters, including sharpshooters Caitlin Bassett and Natalie Medhurst, and midcourter Madi Robinson.

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