- Australia - Australia cemented their place as the best team in world netball with a trio of flawless performances earlier in the year and are yet to taste defeat in any Quad Series game. The women in gold have racked up 360 goals over the course of two tournaments, while their backline has remained relatively strong, conceding just 286. As ever, the Diamonds look focused heading into a tournament that will see them play on home soil.
- New Zealand - New Zealand were unlucky earlier in the year, losing narrowly to their Australasian neighbours before recording convincing wins over both England and South Africa. Arguably the team who are most likely to end the Australian’s dominance, the Silver Ferns will be determined to shake off their tag as the second best team in the world.
- England - Following the conclusion of the nation’s expanded Superleague campaign, things are looking up for netball in England. However, if the Roses are to improve upon their third-placed finish in their opening two Quad Series outings, coach Tracey Neville will be forced to work her players extra hard, especially if they are to out shine the Aussies after pushing them so close last time around.
- South Africa - South Africa, despite being ranked fifth in the world, are certainly the runt of the litter when it comes to competing in the Quad Series. The SPAR Proteas are yet to record a single victory in their six outings so far and have never really been close to shaking off the shackles of fourth place. A lack of goals and a leaky defence have been major issues that head coach Norma Plummer needs to address quickly if things are to change.
Unwilling to give up their title on home soil, Australia could take some beating. However, the Diamonds have named one of the least experienced sides in recent memory, not that that bothers head coach Lisa Alexander, who believes that her team’s lack of caps is not a problem. In fact, only two members of the squad have represented their nation on more than 50 occasions, while Emily Mannix and Courtney Bruce are yet to feature at all. Nevertheless, expect the reigning champions to be fully focused on landing a hat-trick of Quad Series titles.
Rivals New Zealand will be looking to take advantage of Australia’s shortcomings, especially as the two teams meet in the final group game in an encounter that could decide the destination of the trophy. Head coach Janine Southby has one eye firmly focused on next year’s Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast and will be using this tournament as a chance to get close to her players. So, while dispossessing Australia of their crown won’t be easy, expect the Silver Ferns to give it their all.
With both host nations seemingly set to dominate the series, the focus for England may be to hang on to third place. A tricky opener against Australia awaits for Tracey Neville’s side before a trip to Auckland to face a formidable New Zealand team. Should the Roses snatch an unlikely victory in either game, the hope of landing the title could well be on, although slip ups in both games could leave the players downhearted ahead of a final game with an ever-improving South African outfit. Expect a trio of spirited performances from both England and South Africa, with the English narrowly stealing their usual top three finish.
Sports.net’s Top Tip
- New Zealand to win the Quad Series