8 Oct 2016

Diamonds concede they're on the back foot

3:45 pm on 8 October 2016

The Australian netball captain Clare McMeniman concedes New Zealand will have an edge in match fitness when the world's top two teams meet in the first of four tests in Sydney on Sunday.

Bailey Mes of the Silver Ferns is tackled by Clare McMeniman of the Diamonds and Laura Geitz of the Diamonds during the Constellation Cup Netball match, Silver Ferns v Australia, in Christchurch, on the 20th October 2015.

Claire McMeniman and Laura Geitz defend Silver Fern Bailey Mes in 2015 Constellation Cup. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Diamonds - who currently hold the Constellation Cup after a close-fought series last year - pipped the Silver Ferns by five goals in their last clash during the Quad Series in Melbourne in early September.

Australia haven't played since then, while the Ferns completed a 3-0 home sweep of Jamaica in the weeks following that match..

McMeniman said that puts Australia on the back foot heading into the series.

"They have had a little bit of extra time to work on their combinations and have that match fitness," McMeniman said.

"We've been working hard in terms of the three weeks we've had away from the netball court and what we've been doing, but it's difficult to replicate that match fitness and the intensity that you get from playing games, so they probably do have a little bit of an edge on us in that."

But Silver Ferns coach Janine Southby downplayed any advantage her team might get from playing more recently than the Diamonds.

Silver Ferns coach Janine Southby

Silver Ferns coach Janine Southby Photo: Photosport

"You could say that it does (give us an edge in match fitness) but that's water under the bridge by the time you get out there," Southby said.

"We expect them (Australia) to be always tough and relentless and it's a really fast and physical game when we play them.

"What they've been working on the last month or two since we last met them we don't know at this stage.

"There's always that element that they could bring something else to change their game, particularly from a personnel point of view."

Meanwhile, Southby has suggested veteran shooter Maria Tutaia, who hasn't played a test in over a year after taking a break and then getting injured, will play limited minutes early in the series.

Tutaia and defender Anna Harrison were both named in the wider squad of 14 despite having not fully recovered from injury at the time of the team announcement,