Netball: Come off it Irene, say Aussies

Australia have returned fire over New Zealand complaints of rough play by challenging Silver Ferns netball star Irene van Dyk's reputation as a gentle giant.

Diamonds coach Norma Plummer today claimed van Dyk pushed the limits of fair play herself after the New Zealand camp alleged their shooter was unfairly targeted.

While widely regarded as New Zealand's nicest sportswoman, the Australians regard her as a crafty and sometimes devious campaigner who gives as much as she gets.

"I've seen van Dyk play for a long time and she's no slouch when it comes to looking after herself," Plummer told AAP ahead of Sunday's trans-Tasman clash in Brisbane.

"I think Irene is big enough to look after herself.

"She wouldn't have got through 164 caps if she was a very ordinary player.

"The Kiwis are very good at being able to use certain parts of the body on the off-side of the umpire." Ferns coach Ruth Aitken appealed to Sunday's neutral umpires to crack down on the Diamonds' ultra-physical approach against van Dyk after their torrid 46-41 win in Melbourne last Sunday.

The South African-born veteran managed to shrug off the close attention to shoot 29 goals at 94 percent in the comeback victory.

The 36-year-old was felled in one collision with Diamonds skipper Mo'onia Gerrard, but van Dyk was fortunate to get a controversial penalty after she hipped Gerrard out when she drove for a second half ball.

"I'd look at the third-quarter, I think Irene got one back," Plummer said.

"She took Gerrard out there so it's pretty even stevens in what happens out there.

"It is give and take but the funny thing is that Gerrard never mentioned it and would never whinge about it at all.

"We just have to be smarter on the umpiring with how it happens, often they only see the end result and not the start of it." The 190cm Van Dyk is again the biggest obstacle to Australia retaining their world No 1 ranking in the final test of the year.

A New Zealand victory would give the Silver Ferns a 3-1 series win over the world champions this year while the Diamonds are searching for their first trans-Tasman win in Brisbane.

New Zealand have won the two previous tests but Australia hold an overall 21-15 advantage on home soil.

The Silver Ferns will again be led by Casey Williams and Laura Langman after veteran skipper Julie Seymour was today ruled out after her achilles injury failed to recover in time.

Gerrard, the sister of Wallabies winger Mark, said the Diamonds were as much motivated to prevent a third straight loss to New Zealand as keeping their No 1 ranking.

"Definitely, who wants to lose to a Kiwi. No matter what your code is that's a huge rivalry."

 

 

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