The Diamonds open their World Cup campaign against Northern Ireland.
The Diamonds open their World Cup campaign against Northern Ireland.

Master v apprentice: Why Diamonds must be wary

ON the court, Australia's Netball World Cup-opener against Northern Ireland shapes as a traditional David versus Goliath showdown between amateurs and professionals.

On the sideline it'll be mentor v apprentice, when Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander takes on fellow Australian Dan Ryan.

And she's expecting a tougher, more "Australian" battle against the former Adelaide Thunderbirds boss than last year's 94-26 Commonwealth Games drubbing.

Ryan, a former Manchester Thunder coach, took over world No.1 Northern Ireland at the turn of the year following his two seasons back home with the Thunderbirds.

And in the first match of his first major assignment in Liverpool, he'll find himself in the bear pit with the first-ranked reigning world champions and their vastly experienced leader who knows him well.

"Having assisted and supported Dan in a mentoring sense, and also having been involved with high-performance accreditation too in Australia, I know how hard he's working at being the best coach that he can be," Alexander said.

Caitlin Bassett of Australia poses with the World Cup trophy
Caitlin Bassett of Australia poses with the World Cup trophy

"So when he said he was looking to apply for this job and had got the job I was really excited for him, because I think it's the next step forward for his coaching career."

Ryan's main focus since taking the role has been renewing identity and purpose to a team willing to learn, and Alexander was wary Friday's hitout might not be quite the walk in the park of last year on the Gold Coast.

"So we know we're going to get an Australian coaching style," Alexander said.

"We were talking about it at our performance analysis session, the sorts of things we can expect now that Dan's coaching, and the improvement Northern Ireland will have shown since we last played them in the Commonwealth Games.

"We're expecting a really hot contest."

News Corp Australia

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