As the Fast5 Netball World Series approaches this weekend, Sam Poolman will be looking to prove she’s worthy of bearing the title of Australian captain.
For Newcastle’s leading netballer, the call-up to the green-and-gold of the international squad was a privilege, and to be bestowed the right to guide the team out onto the court in the two-day tournament is “super exciting”.
“It’s going to be really cool to lead out Australia – I just found out last week – so I was pretty pumped then, and now that I’ve had some time to think about it I’m just getting even more excited,” she said.
“I’ll still be looking to do my job, and achieve what I wanted to achieve out of the Fast5 tournament, but it feels like it’s all that little bit more important now, and I’ve got that responsibility to get everyone on the same page and lead them forward.”
Poolman, who has been playing with state and international representative squads since she was 16 years old, just wrapped up a strong Super Netball season with the Greater Western Sydney Giants, falling just short of a title in the 2018 grand final.
Now the former AIS athlete is looking to end her year’s campaign on a high, and prepares to face the world’s best.
Among the team’s title rivals will be international powerhouses England and New Zealand, as well as rising threats Malawi, Jamaica and South Africa, all of whom could lift the crown come Sunday evening.
Poolman also revealed she’s eager for her second tournament playing the Fast5 format – a short-form clash with just five players on each side, and short 24 minute matches.
“We just want to get out onto the court this weekend, we’ve had a few training sessions already and we have a few left but we’re continuing to improve as we go,” she said.
“The interesting thing in training camps is coming together and learning how to play together in a short period of time, we’re really focused on making sure we’re all just flowing the same way and hopefully that synergy can get us into the grand final match.”
Australia’s newest captain also raised the point that the ladies in green-and-gold had yet to achieve a Fast5 World Series title, despite being one of biggest nations on the global stage – a wrong she would love to right this weekend.
“I think a lot of people have seen that we’ve not won it yet, and are questioning that, so it’s been pretty funny seeing that all of this week,” she said.
“It’d be awesome to create history with the win, and myself and all the girls would absolutely love to do that, but we’ve still got some time to go before the weekend and we just have to be prepared for anything.
“The game is so fast and quick, so anything can happen and if you fall behind there’s not a lot of room for errors because it can be over so quickly. It’s super exciting, and definitely a bit different.”
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Giants head coach Julie Fitzgerald, who will also be assistant coach for the Australian side, believes Poolman can be a major catalyst for the team as she guides them from defence, and thinks she will “go really well”.
“I think it’s exciting for her,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s a reward for the input that she had into the team last year and the intelligence that she brings to the game and the amount of support that she gives that.”
“Sam is a very strong leader both on court and, most importantly, off the court.”
Poolman will begin her campaign as the Australian captain against Malawi on Saturday afternoon, at 1.45pm. Australia then faces Jamaica at 4pm and New Zealand at 7.45pm to round out the opening day.
AUSTRALIAN ROSTER: Jessica Anstiss (WA), Kiera Austin (NSW), Laura Scherian (QLD), Sophie Garbin (WA), Matilda Garrett (VIC), Kimberley Jenner (QLD), Sarah Klau (SA), Kate Moloney (VIC), Sam Poolman (NSW), Kaylia Stanton (WA).