JAKE Noonan will hit the court running this week when he pulls on the green and gold for the first time in the Trans Tasman Cup netball tournament.
Noonan has been named vice-captain of the Australian men’s 23 and under squad for the event, which gets under way in Adelaide tomorrow.
“To be vice-captain of your country is definitely an honour,” Noonan said.
“We’ve got a good leadership team with Liam (Forcadilla) and Cam (Martin) as joint captains above me.
“Liam and I, both of us played in the state open team together, so we have a bit of experience around one another.”
Noonan will represent his country for the first time, and is looking forward to the challenge.
“I’m keen to get out there that’s for sure,” he said.
“It’s been a long time coming since the team was named at Easter.”
Noonan anticipates his national team debut will likely come playing through the midcourt, but said the side has great flexibility.
“I’m expecting to play mainly in the midcourt,” he said.
“I’d imagine at centre and wing defence; we’ve got two really strong wing attacks in the team as it is, but I can also swing into goal defence if needed.
“We’re quite a versatile side.”
Prior to the squad coming together in Adelaide on Saturday, a three-day training camp at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) is the only time the group has been together as a whole in the lead-up to this event.
“We had a camp at the AIS in August which was just great, I really enjoyed it,” he said.
“All six Australian squads who are playing in the Trans Tasman Cup were there.”
It was at this camp that it soon became apparent Australia’s 23 and under side meant business.
“We pushed the Australian open team in a practice match during the AIS camp,” Noonan said.
“We’ve got a very strong team for this tournament, so hopefully we can perform at our best.”
There are a lot of familiar faces in the line-up, which will be coached by Matthew Blomeley, who was Noonan’s first state level mentor in 2017.
“We’ve got six Vic’s in team,” he said.
“I’ve represented Victoria previously with Brayden (Pastore), Cam and Luke (Marko Rawlings).
“Our starting goal shooter is Stephen Brice; his sister Krissy plays Suncorp Super Netball for the Giants.”
Noonan perfects his craft in the premier division of the Melbourne based M-League, playing in both men’s and mixed competitions.
“Brayden and Luke are also my team-mates in this competition, so we know each other’s games quite well,” he said.
“In the men’s we’re a team called the Geelong Jaguars, which is part of the Geelong Cougars club who play in the VNL (Victorian Netball League).
“Our mixed team, all the girls play state so it’s quite a good standard.
“I’ve enjoyed some solid form in the M-League recently so hopefully that holds me in good stead for this.”
On a personal level, Noonan’s goals remain relatively simple in readiness for the opening match.
“I just can’t wait to get out there and play good netball,” he said.
“I’d love to get on court every game and really make the most of it.
“You never know how many more opportunities like this you will get.”
He also has some inside knowledge of the nemisis after his time spent playing for Waikato in the New Zealand Men’s Nationals.
“I went and played in the New Zealand league last year, so I’m familiar with who we’re up against,” he said.
“I’m friends with some of the boys and know who they all are.
“It’ll be great to see them all again but at the same time we’ll all be out there to compete.”
The 23 year-old expects the Kiwis to prove a formidable opponent.
“New Zealand play a zone defence very well,” he said.
“But I think if we can be calm and relaxed and play our style, we should be able to come away with the win.”
The three-test series will be streamed live via the Australian Men’s and Mixed Netball Association website www.ammna.com.au.
Games one and two will be played at 7pm AEDT on Wednesday and Friday, followed by the third fixture on Saturday from 2pm.
Noonan will be joined in Adelaide by a number of family and friends who are making the journey.
“I’ve really appreciated all the support from home in Camperdown,” he said.
“I’ve had a lot of people checking in on my progress which is always nice.
“I’ve got a good support crew joining me for the week so I’m really looking forward to that.”