SYDNEY, (SMH) – Leading ANZ Netball Championship coach Roselee Jencke, a key figure in Australia’s last home world title success 24 years ago, rates Jamaica ahead of New Zealand and a much-hyped England as the biggest threat to a repeat Diamonds triumph in Sydney.
Jencke, a two-time premiership coach with the Queensland Firebirds who, as a reliable circle defender, snared the decisive interception late in the famous 1991 final against New Zealand, has tipped raging favourites Australia to beat the fourth-ranked Jamaicans in the final at Allphones Arena on Sunday week.
She has questioned the new-look Silver Ferns’ ability to push the hosts for the full 60 minutes and was left unconvinced by England’s claim for a first crown after a weekend of match practice in Brisbane.
Jencke also believes her Firebirds’ spearhead Romelda Aiken will play a major role on and off court in qualifying Jamaica for the gold medal game. The Sunshine Girls have finished third three times, and on Friday thrashed Samoa 90-44.
“Everybody’s talking up England but I think the smokey’s Jamaica,” said Jencke, who acknowledged the positive influence of Australian coach Jill McIntosh, who has been advising the Jamaicans.
“They’re being coached by Jill Mac, Romelda will have taken back the importance of playing roles and being disciplined and I think she will be able to show the way as one of the leaders there. They’ll be fitter than ever, they’ve just got that flair and if they can be disciplined and use it, anything’s possible with Jamaica.”
While New Zealand’s difficulties may lie in the shooting circle, where veteran Maria Tutaia will have support from newcomers Bailey Mes and Malia Paseka, Jencke believes third-seeded England will also have its problems in attack under new coach Tracey Neville.
“(Jo) Harten’s their go-to girl but I don’t think they’ve got the depth in the shooting end, and you can’t be reliant on just the one shooter all the time,” Jencke said.
“Tamsin (Greenway) has been around before but I don’t think she played Commonwealth Games and I don’t know if she’s up to that pressure of a game, and I still think they’re probably their own worst enemy at times – (they lack) composure under pressure and wing attack and centre are their areas of weakness.
“Sometimes your hard games are in the rounds, when you haven’t played that opposition for a long time, and they’re a bit unorthodox, and that’s challenging both in your game structures and mentally. I still think Australia will definitely win, but I think it will be an Australia-Jamaica final.