THE Australian and English sporting rivalry will hit Bendigo Stadium in October when the Diamonds play England in the first of two netball Tests.
It will be the first time a netball Test has been played in a regional centre in Victoria.
Melbourne Vixens team-mates Bianca Chatfield and Geva Mentor will put their friendship on hold for the Test series.
The Diamonds, ranked second in the world behind New Zealand, were beaten by third-ranked England the last time they met.
“We’re very aware that England is improving all the time and this series in Australia will be very tough,’’ Chatfield said.
“We’re coming to Bendigo to win and we’ll do everything in our power to get that win.”
Chatfield, who is originally from the Mornington-Peninsula, said playing the Test match in a regional centre was a great move.
“Why not come to Bendigo?,’’ she said.
“Country regions have always produced great talent. At Diamonds training we split up the group into country versus city and, generally, there’s always more country girls than city.
“Bendigo has always had great netball talent and it would be great to see Caitlin Thwaites and Bec Bulley get a chance to play for Australia on their home court.”
Mentor, England’s premier defender, said the improvement in England’s squad had come from an influx of young players.
“We’d like to think we’re closing the gap between us and Australia and New Zealand,’’ Mentor said.
“We have a lot of raw talent and a lot of young talent.
“It’s very exciting for English netball and this Test series against Australia is going to be very important for us leading into next year’s world championships in Sydney.
“We’re very happy to be heading to Bendigo.”
The Bendigo Test will be played on Sunday, October 19.
The Australian and English teams will take clinics for juniors in the lead-up to the Test. A capacity crowd of more than 3000 is expected at Bendigo Stadium.
Ticket prices are yet to be announced.