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Wallam continues long wait between Tests

Andrew Mathieson -

Donnell Wallam's last chance for selection in the starting Australian line-up ahead of the Netball Nations Cup final in London lies with the Diamonds' penultimate game with Uganda.

The 30-year-old, who has played just five Tests, is one of the five goalers across the 13-player touring party for the international tournament.

Coach Stacey Marinkovich has so far juggled the three Diamonds shooters she backed for the 2023 World Cup title win in August after Wallam had been controversially left behind from the flight to Cape Town.

The proud Noongar woman was the second leading shooter in the 2023 Super Netball season and named the Australian goal shooter in the domestic team of the year after finishing with 669 goals at nearly 87 per cent across 14 games last year.

Marinovich had initially chosen Wallam from just one full season in the 2022 Super Netball competition after only spending a couple of earlier years in the West Australian state league on the back of converting from a lifetime of playing basketball.

But despite Marinovich plucking the Queensland Firebird against the advice of naysayers, she has struggled to hold down a place in the Diamonds set-up among a plethora of options in front of goal.

"It's not a unique situation," the coach once said on Wallam's debut in 2022.

"Donnell was selected as part of our squad because of the talent she's got, so we've got to look at who we're playing against and what we need at a particular point in time."

Wallam watched from the sidelines last Saturday after Cara Koenen finished up with 23 goals from 26 shots, Sophie Garbin 17 from 18 and Kiera Austin 12 from 16 during the emphatic 63-50 win over New Zealand.

The Diamonds tightened up against England the next day after Garbin landed 26 from 27 attempts, Austin went 12 from 12 while Koenen shot well with 12 from 13 in a 61-59 victory to secure a guaranteed top-two spot.

Sophie Dwyer, who also missed the World Cup, was given first dibs off the interchange bench and the goal attack added 7 goals from 8 and 11 from 12 across her two appearances.

Marinovich is yet to announce publicly whether Wallam – the only stay-at-home goal shooter in the squad – will play any part in Saturday's rare international against Uganda.

Should New Zealand upset hosts England, who Wallam made that unbelievable debut 15 months ago, she may have an opportunity to face the Silver Ferns for the first time in the final and also press her name further for their Constellation Cup series later this year.

Wallam's well documented maiden appearance in Brisbane came after being found more than 12 months later to have falsely been accused of refusing to wear the Hancock Prospecting sponsorship name on the team's uniform over misleading comments about the company's dealings with First Nations people under the late Lang Hancock.

But the controversial week leading into the international with England ended well during the dying seconds, with Wallam breaking the deadlock in Brisbane and slamming the winning goal off her trademark basketball layup.


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