AUSTRALIAN netball coach Lisa Alexander is expecting old foes New Zealand to perform far better than anyone expects at the upcoming Commonwealth Games.
Alexander, in Canberra with her charges for a final camp before the Gold Coast event, said the Diamonds might be favourites but it won't be easy to defend their title at the Commonwealth Games.
And she expects big things from New Zealand despite the world No. 2 netball nation suffering a string of losses in recent times.
"It's not an easy tournament at all," Alexander said.
"I think New Zealand will perform better than everyone is thinking. A lot better."
Alexander is tipping the round match between the Silver Ferns and England to be one of the highlights of the tournament.
England, who play practice matches in Sydney this weekend against both the Swifts and Giants, beat New Zealand 64-57 in overtime in the recent Quad Series and are one of the fastest improving teams in world netball.
"The game between New Zealand and England will be amazing," Alexander said.
"We have extra tickets to watch it live. It will have a huge beating on what happens at the Games."
Australia has the best history of any country in the 12-team competition with five wins from the previous eight Commonwealth Games.
And while New Zealand must contend with England, Malawi, Wales, Scotland and Uganda in their side of the draw, Australia's challenges will come from Jamaica, South Africa, Barbados, Fiji and Northern Ireland during the preliminary rounds.
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