Opportunity: Sharni Layton. Photo: Brendan Esposito Ready: Sharni Layton is relishing the increased responsibility. Photo: Michele Mossop
“It’s such a great experience for me and it’s a role I haven’t had to do before.” Photo: Michele Mossop
Sharni Layton is ready to step from the shadows of Laura Geitz and Julie Corletto and stamp her on-court commitment and vocal dominance in the n Diamonds’ upcoming Test series against England.
The NSW Swifts goal keeper was named as acting vice-captain alongside West Coast Fever’s Caitlin Bassett, with Queensland Firebirds defender Clare McMeniman acting captain in the absence of usual leader Geitz (rested) and vice-captain Renae Ingles (injury).
“It’s such a great experience for me and it’s a role I haven’t had to do before. I’ve always been the inexperienced one around Laura and Julie and Bianca Chatfield,” Layton said. “For me, being on the more mature end, having that role in the leadership group is really about teaching the young ones that are coming away with us what it’s all about and consolidating what we need to do as Diamonds for the next four years.”
The 28-year-old had a stellar 2015, winning the Netball World Cup and the Constellation Cup with the Diamonds, alongside being named the 2015 ANZ Championship Player of the Year and MVP of the finals series, which ultimately saw her Swifts lose at the death to the Firebirds.
Her biggest challenge this year will come on January 21 when the Diamonds will look to avenge a 3-0 series whitewash against England in 2013, a series Layton missed due to a shoulder injury. Layton is bullish about the Swifts’ chances this year, echoing coach Lisa Alexander’s “top of our game” approach.
“We have been working super hard but I’m sure England have as well and there will be challenges. But, in saying that, we love challenges and I believe we can put out our best performances on court,” she said. “It’ll be interesting to see how everything will pan out but we’re definitely not going over there for a friendly.”
Layton’s unapologetic playing style, coupled with her booming vocal cords, have been the hallmark of her playing career and she is not about to change that when she helps lead the Diamonds out in the next few weeks. Describing her leadership style as action-based, Layton is already working on her perceived leadership weaknesses, stemmed from a work ethic so prominent that she has been ranked No.1 in defensive rebounds, deflections and intercepts in the ANZ Championship.
Alexander will play Layton in her favoured position at goal keeper and is looking forward to the impact she will bring on and off the court. “Her level of play really has not reached its ceiling that’s for certain in international netball. We’ve seen what she can do on the ANZ Championship court, what a fantastic competitor she is and how she can really ignite a whole stadium of spectators,” Alexander said.
“She really puts maximum effort into all of her training sessions and she works damn hard off the court. She’s a great example. She’s enthusiastic, positive and encouraging and people want to follow that and follow her. I think she just can’t wait for that opportunity. “
‘s 2016 tour of England (all times AEDT) Test 1 v England Thursday, January 21 Echo Arena, Liverpool 6.30am Test 2 v England Saturday, January 23 Copper Box Arena, London 6.30am Test 3 v England Monday, January 25 Copper Box Arena, London 5.30am