Simmons keen to shine in Diamonds training squad
VERITY Simmons has been rushed into the Australian Diamonds training squad as it prepares for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
In a nod to the calibre of the in-form Mission Queensland Firebirds, three extra players have been added as training partners.
Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander named vice-captain Clare McMeniman, centre court dynamo Simmons and defender Jacinta Messer to head to Canberra next week.
The national squad already includes Firebirds team mates Laura Geitz, Kim Ravaillion and Gabi Simpson and all six will be in action before they head to camp at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre against Mainland Tactix this Sunday.
It is the first time Simmons has been selected at a Diamonds level and will provide additional support to the 18-player squad for the three trials ahead of selection of the Australian Commonwealth Games team on Wednesday.
For young gun Simmons, attending a Diamonds camp is a dream come true and recognition of her ever-improving form in the ANZ Championship.
"I am so excited that all the hard work and training has started to pay off," said Simmons, who has quickly become a fan favourite.
"Just being at Diamonds camp, getting to go up against players like Madi Robinson and Kimberlee Green will help me take my game to the next level.
"It is one step closer to my dream to play for the Diamonds."
Firebirds coach Roselee Jencke sang the praises of Simmons after last weekend's win over her former team, West Coast Fever.
She said Simmons was improving every game and starting to come into her own, especially when it came to feeding into the circle.
"This will definitely give me a new level of confidence heading into the backend of the season for the Firebirds," Simmons said.
McMeniman, who was part of the Diamonds training squad in 2011 before her retirement from the game following the Firebirds ANZ Championship win in the same year, said this had been a goal of hers upon her return to netball.
"I am honoured to be selected as a training partner at the Diamonds camp. It is a great opportunity for all three of us to be part of that elite environment," she said.
"It is an exciting time for netball and the Firebirds, with half the team now attending the camp, which will definitely help us improve."
Australia opens its Commonwealth Games account against Wales on Thursday, July 24, ahead of pool matches against England, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago and South Africa.