Diamonds captain's content after year of stunning change
NETBALL: She played a major role for Australia at the last edition of the Commonwealth Games but Caitlin Bassett could hardly have imagined then she'd be in the position she's in now.
The 29-year-old Western Australian product has taken her game to another level, starring for the Lightning in a Super Netball title-winning campaign last year and then being named to lead her country.
"If you'd have told me four years ago that I would move across the country to play for a brand new franchise on the Sunshine Coast and I'd be captaining Australia I probably would have told you that you were crazy," she said. "There has been so much change in the last year in particular."
Bassett says she's content with life, which is evidently helping her game and her captaincy.
"I'm really happy with where I'm at at the moment," she said.
"I think I'm living in paradise. All the (Lightning) girls here at the moment are absolutely are blown away by the beaches and beautiful weather here at Mooloolaba and I'm proud to say this is my backyard and I get to live here full-time and that I'm playing netball in a place I'm really comfortable living so it's pretty cool."
There's some weight of expectation to captain the Diamonds into a home Games at the Gold Coast, which starts this week, but Bassett and the team have embraced that pressure.
"We expect the best of us and we set the standard really high," she said. "That's the thing about our team is we're always pushing to be better than we were the last time we stepped out on court.
"We are aiming for gold and anything less than that for us would be disappointing, so we are relishing that pressure at the moment."
But she knows that "it's going to be hotly-contested in that medal match".
And Bassett said the captaincy hadn't been a strain.
"Leading the girls is easy because every single one of them is a leader in their own right," she said. "I think that's what's best about this Australian team. It's not just me carrying the load."
"Everyone steps up and is willing to help out and has their own unique leadership style which is fantastic and I think what works best is when we have everyone stepping up, taking control and having ownership in the direction of where our team wants to go."
The Diamonds could contest seven matches in 11 days.
"Competitions like this, it's a marathon, not a sprint." she said. "That's why it's really important we've got 12 players who can get out there and do the job and at the moment it's a great balance (within) the squad.
"We've got so many different players we can put in so many different positions."
The Diamonds start their campaign against Northern Ireland on Thursday.