The Netball World Cup gets underway
Fiji and Samoa are about to begin their Netball World Cup campaigns in Sydney.
The Netball World Cup gets underway in Sydney on Friday with Fiji and Samoa flying the Pacific flag.
The Fiji Pearls arrived in Australia off the back of a heavy diet of matches while Samoa have had a more low-key preparation.
Vinnie Wylie looks over their chances.
Fiji have the task of playing in the opening match of the tournament against Wales, a team they've also faced at the past two World Cups.
The Pearls have been busy this year, hosting New Zealand, Samoa, Papua New Guinea and Singapore, winning gold at the Pacific Games and touring Australia and New Zealand.
Head coach Kate Carpenter says having a thorough build-up has been a welcome change.
KATE CARPENTER: Because always the feedback is - from the various coaches - if only we'd had some warm-up matches so I think it's not only that these ones come so close but it's the variety that we've had way back from January through [to now] and they count, not only in terms of the expectation and results but it's exactly what we need where in a World Cup situation it's just winning matches, winning matches - very different from a test scenario.
Julie Hoornweg coached Fiji in the 90s and was in charge for a short stint last year when the Pearls qualified for the World Cup by defending the Pacific Series title.
She will be in the crowd for the opening match but admits there will be an element of divided loyalties.
JULIE HOORNWEG: This week in Tasmania I have been working a little bit with the Welsh team, so my heart's in two places with that game. Cheering for Fiji for half the game, and Wales for a little bit... (laughs) no, I'll just be cheering for good netball. The Wales team have been quite good. They're quite speedy, with a little bit of athleticism and a little bit of height, they're a little bit taller than they've been in the past.
Samoa have had a more low-key build-up going into their opening match against one of the tournament big guns, Jamaica.
They also participated in January's Oceania Series with Fiji and New Zealand and finished third at the Pacific Games.
Head coach Marcia Hardcastle says the 13th ranked Samoans want to crack the top ten and she expects stronger performances at the World Cup.
MARCIA HARDCASTLE: Our two co-captains which is Julianna [Naoupu] and Opheira [Harder-Karatau], they're both carrying small injuries but they will be the key players in taking the team forward. And we have got a couple of defenders that we really didn't have full percentage of them at PNG because they were injured and sick, it will be a different team at the world cup.
The Jamaicans are being tipped as a genuine title contender this time around and Marcia Hardcastle is anticipating a tough initiation on Friday morning.
MARCIA HARDCASTLE: They've got some good height there and their timing of game is different - a lot of aerial stuff. Jill McIntosh is involved in there now and will bring a taste of the Australian style, a flatter ball, so I think it will be interesting to see what they provide out on court.
Samoa also face Scotland and England in pool play, with Fiji's other matches against Uganda and Zambia.
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