Australian netball captain Caitlin Bassett says England won’t be prepared for the pressure and expectations of being the Netball World Cup host nation and warns it would be silly to dismiss old rivals New Zealand.
Australia heads to England next week as favourites to claim a 12th world title for the tournament in Liverpool starting on 12 July.
England shaded Australia in the Commonwealth Games final last year and they have since split two games in separate Quad Series tournaments.
Bassett is the only member of the Australian squad to have played in the Diamonds’ last two World Cup winning teams in 2011 and 2015
“I think back to Sydney (in 2015) and how much pressure and the expectation that was put on the home country to perform and win and I don’t think England will be prepared for that,” Bassett said.
“It’s things like the amount of fans that will be around the media and everyone wanting a piece of you
“I’m looking forward to going over there, and, not being the underdog because we’re world No.1 for a reason, and the focus not being all about us.”
Australia and New Zealand have contested the last five World Cup finals and Bassett expects the fourth-ranked Silver Ferns to be strong contenders under coach Noeline Tauraua, who was appointed last August.
Bassett is well aware of Tauraua’s abilities having played under her in the Sunshine Coast Lightning teams that won the first two Super Netball titles in 2017-18.
“If you don’t think the Kiwis are going to be a force to be reckoned with you’re silly”‘ Bassett said.
“I know the power of Noeline first hand and what confidence she can give to teams.”
Bassett also expects strong opposition from Jamaica and South Africa, the latter coached by Australian Norma Plummer, who guided Australia to World Cup wins in 2007 and 2011.
Giants shooter Bassett says she is definitely back to full fitness after missing the January Quad Series with a fractured arm.
“To have played nine rounds and got my confidence back has been really important. I’m feeling really fresh now at the moment as well, instead of having to play the whole season and going at the end of a long tournament,” she said.