15 Jan 2019

Bassett absence motivates angry Diamonds

8:13 am on 15 January 2019

An irritated Australian team will use the Quad Series to prove they can beat their biggest netball rivals without Caitlin Bassett.

Caitlin Bassett competes against Temalisi Fakahokotau

Caitlin Bassett competes against Temalisi Fakahokotau Photo: Photosport

The Diamonds opened the four-nation tournament in rusty fashion in Liverpool, trailing South Africa by five early goals before powering home 62-45.

Bigger challenges await in London, where they face New Zealand on Sunday (NZ time) and Commonwealth Games champions England a day later. The Roses proved what a threat they'll be with an opening 54-41 thrashing of the new-look Silver Ferns.

Both Tests will thrust Australia's shooting circle under the spotlight, having to cope again without world class skipper Bassett, who is out of the tournament with a fractured forearm.

Coach Lisa Alexander revealed her players were angered at media reports which suggested the world champions would be severely weakened without their 90-Test shooter.

"I can tell you they're a little bit narky about all the press over here, that we can't play without Bassett," Alexander told AAP.

"The Australian Diamonds are not just Caitlin Bassett and we need to show respect to the athletes that are out there. Caitlin Thwaites has been a world class shooter for a number of years, and so has Steph Wood and so has Gretel Tippett."

Goal attack Tippett was game's outstanding figure against the Proteas with her athleticism and sharp shooting.

Alexander was impressed the former WNBL player has missed attending her brother's wedding in a bid to cement a Diamonds starting bib.

Thwaites, in her 45th Test at goal shoot, was a mixed bag in the first half as Australia ground out a narrow lead.

Wood, normally a wing attack, provided the Diamonds with one of their smallest goal shoots on record in the second half but her speed prised the defence open.

Alexander won't rule out employing Tippett and Wood as a mobile starting pair against their major rivals, noting they have a connection forged from their junior playing days in Queensland.

Bassett is staying on as an off-court captain. She delivered the pre-Test speech and passed on words of advice during the breaks.

"It's great we've got another set of eyes on things and we know this could happen to us at World Cup and so it is good practice for us," Alexander said.