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donnell wallam australian diamonds dress failure lost sponsor first test england series match winner paige headley praise


Netball rookie Donnell Wallam will only get better after her Newcastle debut, coach Stacey Marinkovich has warned.

Wallam was able to put aside weeks of controversy surrounding Netball Australia’s failed $15 million Hancock Prospecting sponsorship deal and make her international debut.

It’s been a staggering rise for a young bike who wasn’t even on the Super Netball roster just nine months ago.

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On Wednesday night, Wallam took to the field in the final quarter of the first Test against England and made history – sealing victory with a stunning lay-up as the seconds ticked away.

But it was the way Wallam held her own from the moment she was introduced on the court that impressed both Marinkovic and Diamonds captain Paige Hadley.

“It’s very special and I think it shows how good this team is together and how connected we are. I think you saw the reaction of the girls at the end — for Nelly to even have that confidence to go and do that, obviously it’s built on by those around her,” Hadley said after the match.

“I think it was epic for a young guy to come out and make his debut and get that shot – (there’s) nothing like it. I have never seen it.

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“As soon as she ran I was like, ‘What’s going on?’ (as the crowd erupted). Then I saw her approach. She really wanted it from that first ball.

“You saw the emotion.

“It’s just the belief and confidence that everyone in this group has in each other – no matter what happens, we have each other’s backs.

“She went out there, saw this pole wide open and left.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen her do that in training!”

Marinkovic said she first noticed Valam when the rookie took part in a mixed team practice against the West Coast Fever.

Wallam headed to England in 2021 to gain more experience before opting to return home after one season at Leeds Rhinos under current Fever boss Dan Ryan.

Her chance to make it to the top level came in February when Queensland Firebirds goal shooter Ramelda Aiken-George was pregnant – after she was replaced by Valam.

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She has done enough to not only earn a full contract through 2023, but also to make the national team.

“For someone to come out and debut and capture the moment, she certainly set the stadium on fire,” Marinkovich praised.

“Nell hasn’t been there (in an international match) – she loves the challenge and loves the moment. She was going for it.

“She hasn’t been involved in a high-performance environment for too long, so there are things on and off the court that she’s still developing, but I think it’s really exciting to see what she’s been able to do, and there’s a lot greater growth. »

Marinkovic said despite the “outside noise” surrounding Valam and the clothing fiasco, which continues to make headlines across the country, the debutant has been supported by her teammates from day one.

“Honestly, the reach of our diamonds is pretty far,” she said.

“She lives with Gabby Simpson, a former Diamonds player and very close friend who still contributes to our group. Gretel (Buetta) was also there for her – current and former players gathered around her – those who really understand our environment and the culture within it.

“I don’t think she was as isolated as what is being projected … there were actually players who worked with her and supported her.”

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Vallam will now travel to Sydney with his Diamonds teammates for the second Test against England on Sunday.

But regardless of whether she makes it into this match early, it’s a “headache” Marinkovic has to contend with.

“I always have a headache,” she laughed.

“I get one, just putting the team on the court at the moment is a credit to the girls. The environment is competitive, but with the goal of making this team better.”


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