A window of opportunity is arising for Kiera Austin to finally call herself an Australian Diamond at the Constellation Cup, all she has to do is take it.
After COVID-19 disrupted the international calendar, the Giants star is ready to emerge from the wings and press for a Diamonds debut in the Test series against New Zealand from March 2-7.
It comes after a breakthrough season of Super Netball which saw Austin named the Giants' most valuable player and in the league's Team of the Year.
With the retirement of Caitlin Thwaites and absence of Gretel Bueta - who gave birth to her first child earlier this month - Austin has a unique opportunity to contest a circle-attack patch.
The four Tests will be played in Christchurch and Tauranga, with both cities to host matches on back-to-back days.
The short turnaround could see new Diamonds coach Stacey Marinkovich share the shooting duties between her traveling circle-attacks, which includes the likes of Caitlin Bassett, Steph Wood, Cara Koenen and Sophie Garbin.
"I think as an athlete you know when your opportunities are arising, you don't want to be too far ahead of yourself but when you do see a window of opportunity you have to take it," Austin.
"[Bassett] will be there, she has a wealth of knowledge and will look after us young ones, Cara and I are quite young. Steph is in there as well and will bring a wealth of experience.
"You definitely know your window of opportunity, you'd be silly not to prepare for it. I'm definitely making sure I'm ready and raring to go."
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Austin has been part of the national set-up since 2018 but is yet to make her Diamonds debut.
During the 2019 Quad series, she received the nod from national selectors to join Australian team in Liverpool after Bassett sustained an injury.
Her selection came as a shock to Austin and even now, the 23-year-old still feels jolted by the Diamonds label without an international cap.
"I'm so stoked [to] be in the squad but I hate saying I'm a Diamond because I don't feel in myself that I've quite made it there yet," Austin said.
"You have to debut and be on court to get that title. Hopefully in the next couple of months that might come to fruition.
"Having the matches in close proximity to each other and taking the whole squad over there, hopefully there might be an opportunity for me to hit the court.
"Either way, I want to turn up and focus on the right things not just for myself but for the whole squad. At the end of the day, the main aim is for us to be winning Tests over there."
The Diamonds will meet for a four day 'pre-embarkation' camp starting February 11 at a location to be determined, where they'll need to passed as fit to travel.
They'll fly to Christchurch on February 15, with athletes and team staff to undergo a fortnight's quarantine ahead of the series.
Similar to the Wallabies, the Diamonds face five days in solo quarantine before being able to access the hotel gym in small groups. They can resume team and on-court training from the seventh day.
Austin said the upcoming camp will be key to the Diamonds' preparation for the Test series, especially given they're a new-look squad with limited contact time.
"It's good for a selection point of view but also because it's such a new squad and getting to know each other on court again, it's been such a long time since any of us have played together," Austin said.
"It will be particularly important heading into a 14-day quarantine and not being able to get as much on-court contact time as you'd hope leading into a tour."
Austin and Jamie-Lee Price have used the Giants' first week of training at Netball Central to prepare for the Test series.
The schedule and dates of the 2021 Super Netball season are yet to be confirmed.
CONSTELLATION CUP 2021
- First Test - Christchurch Arena, March 2
- Second Test - Christchurch Arena, March 3
- Third Test - Baypark Arena, Tauranga, March 6
- Fourth Test - Baypark Arena, Tauranga, March 7