Australian vice-captain Gabi Simpson believed the Diamonds did not need the added motivation of proving critics wrong ahead of Wednesday night’s Quad Series clash with England in Newcastle.
It will be the first time the two countries have met since the Roses won the Commonwealth Games gold medal play-off in a one-goal boilover five months ago and Simpson said the pain remained raw.
“[This game] is really important to us, to be honest,” Simpson said.
“That game really hurt us at the Commonwealth Games. We haven’t been dwelling on it but it’s been the fire in the belly over the last couple of weeks in preparation for this.”
Australia meet England after beating South Africa 61-44 in the opening match of the four nations series in Auckland on Saturday.
The performance in their first outing since the Gold Coast Games in April drew criticism from South African coach Norma Plummer.
Post-match the former Australian mentor said she expected more from the Diamonds.
“For us, as the Australian Diamonds team, we’re always trying to be better, so the point that we’re trying to prove is to ourselves,” Simpson said in response.
“Every single time we step out on court we’re playing for each other and we want to be better than we were in our last game, so that's what we want to put out [against England] with that extra fire of the Commonwealth Games.”
That game really hurt us at the Commonwealth Games. We haven’t been dwelling on it but it’s been the fire in the belly over the last couple of weeks in preparation for this.Gabi Simpson
In the series-opener there was only a four-goal difference at half-time with the Diamonds leading South Africa 28-24.
Australia took control with a dominant third quarter and opened a 14-goal advantage heading into the final period.
“We knew that we could play under pressure and that gives us a lot of confidence because we were able to pull it out in that second half,” Simpson said.
“In this game we’re going to need to be able to play under pressure from the start to the finish and have that trust in ourselves that we will be able to pull it out.”
The Roses opened their Quad Series campaign with a 52-39 win over New Zealand.
The Diamonds underestimated England at the Commonwealth Games but will not being making the same mistake twice.
“The biggest thing with England is they’re strong right across the court,” Simpson said.
“They’ve got Geva [Mentor] at the back, they’ve got [Serena] Guthrie in the middle and [Jo] Harten in goal shooter, so that brings strength from the start to the finish.
“And that’s what we need, to make sure that we can step up all across the court, all the way from goal shooter to goal keeper.”
The sell-out match - the first time Australia have played in Newcastle since 2012 – will have extra significance for Simpson, who is a frequent visitor to the city.
“It’s so great that we’re going to be packed out at Newcastle,” she said.
“They’re such passionate Aussies, particularly in Newcastle. I’ve got some family here so it feels like home to me and it’s something very special.
“Every Christmas I’m in Newcastle with my family and it just feels like a second home for me and it’s so fantastic to be able to play in front of my family but also all of the amazing people here.”
Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander was also looking forward to playing in front of a packed house at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre.
“We’ve had two lots of games here,” Alexander said.
“We had the game against England - that was my first Test as the national coach – back in 2011. Then we’ve had another Quad Series against South Africa [in 2012].
“And Newcastle was our pre-World Cup training camp venue, so we like it here, we know that the Newcastle crowd will be right behind us and we’ll need them to get over the line.”
Alexander said key to success would be “breaking the connections of the English as well as we possibly can from the get go”.
The match starts at 7.50pm.