It has been dubbed the 'new era' for the Australian Diamonds as the mostly inexperienced side look to make their impact in the Quad Series and Constellation Cup ahead of next year's Netball World Cup. For centre court Kelsey Browne, now is finally her chance to make a mark.
Just months after the Diamonds' Commonwealth Games loss to England, Australia lost some of its biggest names and over 200 caps worth of experience when Laura Geitz, Sharni Layton, Madi Robinson and Susan Pettit all announced their retirements. They are now in a race to pin down their World Cup squad.
Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander has been left with just a shell of her 2015 World Cup winning side after an exodus of stars in the years following the tournament. Kim Green (74 caps), Julie Corletto (52 caps), Bec Bulley (32 caps), Erin Bell (30 caps), Clare McMeniman (15 caps) and Renae Ingles (67) all deciding to hang up the gold dress. In the years since, Alexander has trialled 10 debutants in three years, with Browne the latest to be thrown into the mix.
Making her debut on Saturday in the Diamonds 61-44 win over South Africa, Browne took to the court alongside some of Australia's most experienced as well as girls who'd only made their debut 12 months earlier. It's a new mix of experience and youth, and Browne believes it gives each girl a chance to make their own mark on the side.
"There has been a lot of that talk around the 'new era' after we lost a lot of experience," Browne tells ESPN. "But Lisa is focusing on the fact that although it is a new squad, it doesn't mean that it's bad. It's not something [experience] that we're lacking.
"We've obviously still got C-Bass [Caitlin Bassett] and a couple of the other girls [Caitlin Thwaites, Kim Ravaillion] who are experienced, but I think it just brings new challenges and new opportunities for people to stand up. Whether you've played one Test, like I have, or 80 like C-Bass, everyone's really feeling what they contribute. I don't feel like I'm bottom of the rung, the culture and the vibe in the team is that everyone's on board, and everyone can contribute in their own way."
Focusing on bouncing back after their gold medal loss to England at the Commonwealth Games, the Diamonds will be using the latest Test series against the Roses, South Africa and New Zealand as a chance to build a clearer picture of their 2019 World Cup squad, and after making a strong impact on her debut Browne has sure to have made an impression.
"It's awesome that Lisa's able to back in players that don't have a lot of experience and give them the opportunity to stand up and stamp their authority. It will be interesting and it will be a challenge. I'm going into every game as it's an unknown.
"I'm really excited for the next couple of months and hopefully when I get my opportunity I can make sure I'm going out and doing my best for the team and contributing in any way I can."
At 26-years-old, Browne was one of the oldest to make their debut in the Diamonds squad and is an example of how truly hard it is to push your way into the world's best netball side.
Starting her career at the Melbourne Vixens, Browne says she believes her real professional career didn't start until she made the move to Queensland to play as a foundation member at the Sunshine Coast Lightning, a step that finally saw her come out from behind big sister Madi Robinson's shadow. The move obviously paid off with the speedy centre court claiming back-to-back Super Netball titles, a call up into the Diamonds side and a contract signing with the Collingwood Magpies all within five days.
"I feel like I've been working towards this [Diamonds selection] for a little while, but it hasn't really been my sole focus," Browne tells ESPN. "I thought if I played consistent netball, maybe it would come, but to actually finally get her [Alexander] to say the words on the phone to me was a really special moment and I was very emotional.
"I've always known that I was a late bloomer, it took me a little bit of time to sort of figure out the professionalism that you had to give to it and that's because I was on my own path, I had other things that took priority, it took me a little while to figure out what I really wanted.
"I don't think I've ever thought that I'd lost my chance, I always was just thinking that if it happens it happens. People get chances at different stages and people have different journeys, for me I knew that this was mine."