Layton hasn’t ‘missed a beat’ in Diamonds return

Courtney Bruce of , centre, defends against Maria Tutaia of New Zealand in the netball Constellation Cup between the New Zealand Silver Ferns and n Diamonds, Horncastle Arena, Christchurch, New Zealand, October 8, 2017 (AAP Image/SNPA, Adam Binns) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY Shannon Francois of New Zealand and Kate Moloney of during the netball Constellation Cup between the New Zealand Silver Ferns and n Diamonds, Titanium Security Arena, Adelaide. Wednesday, October 11, 2017. (AAP Image/David Mariuz) NO ARCHIVING.

She might still be coming back from exhaustion, but defender Sharni Layton hasn’t missed a beat in her return to the n Diamonds set-up and she’s expected to give the selectors some tough decisions.

Goal-keeper Courtney Bruce got her chance with the Diamonds last year when Layton stepped away from the game and grabbed it with both hands – named the most-valuable player in her green-and-giold debut.

While she’s made a stunning start to her international career, Bruce felt she had more “potential to unlock” and was excited to see what she was capable of at the top level.

The 24-year-old will have a chance to cement her spot for the upcoming Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in April when she travels to London for the quad series against New Zealand, England and South Africa, which starts next Saturday.

Neither Layton or former Diamonds captain Laura Geitz, who’s continuing her return after having a baby, were part of the quad series squad, but neither has been ruled out of Commonwealth Games selection either.

Bruce said Layton looked like she’d never left.

She relished the chance to work with the experienced duo of Layton and Geitz, and said the entire defensive unit was pushing each other to be at their peak for the Gold Coast.

“Sharns brings lots of energy, lots of voice. It’s been really good to have her back and it’s good to feed off what she’s putting out there, but then for me to feed some stuff into her,” Bruce said on Saturday.

“It doesn’t look like she’s missed a beat out there at the moment. She’s doing pretty well, same Sharns, it’s been really, really good, she’s looking good.”

Diamonds midcourter Kate Moloney also made her n debut last year and the Melbourne Vixens captain also captained ‘s Fast5 team.

Moloney and the rest of the group had a lighter day in camp at the n Institute of Sport on Saturday, as they continued their simulation of their Comm Games schedule.

They’ll play one last game on Sunday before they travel to London for the quad series.

Moloney predicted the Diamonds selectors, who will name the Gold Coast squad when they return from London, would have some tough decisions to make around the defensive unit as Layton continued her return.

“It’s been great to have Sharns back, she’s such a great character to have around the group,” she said.

“She’s so positive and enthusiastic, so it’s been really good to have her back. To see her back out on court has been amazing.

“You want to see everyone back in the group and out on court and she’s been such an integral part of the Diamonds for such a long time.

“Hopefully she can continue to be out on court and playing some good netball and I’m sure the coaches will have some decisions to make from there.”

While Moloney would “love to be a part” of the Commonwealth Games, her only focus was on the camp and playing well in the quad series.

As a young leader, the 25-year-old has had plenty of experience to draw on during the camp – Diamonds captain Caitlin Bassett, vice-captain Gabi Simpson, as well as former captains Geitz and Layton.

She said taking up the leadership roles had made her a better player.

“When I come into this group I’m probably one of the more younger girls, but I’ve been given some really great opportunities to lead this year and I’ve absolutely loved the new challenge,” Moloney said.

“I think it’s helped me to grow as a player and as a team member as well.”