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Young Aussie women thrown in deep end

8 December 2006

An inexperienced Australian women’s water polo team begin their Holiday Cup campaign this weekend in Los Alamitos, California.

In the prestigious six-team tournament Australia, who won the World Cup in China in August, will battle World League champions USA, Olympic champions Italy, Canada, European champions Russia and the Netherlands.

The Australians have lost their captain Mel Rippon and centre forward Taniele Gofers due to minor injuries. This combined with the unavailability of some players leaves just five players from the World Cup champion team contesting the Holiday Cup.

Fremantle Marlins’ Glencora Ralph and Cronulla Sharks’ Holly Lincoln-Smith will make their international debuts as replacements for Rippon and Gofers. ..

The tournament is very important ahead of the FINA World Championships which will be played in Melbourne in March.

Head coach Greg McFadden said the Holiday Cup would be the start of their preparations.

“It’s a great opportunity for players who missed out on the major tournaments this year and will go a long way in deciding whether they can force their way into the World Championships squad or whether it is time to give younger or less experienced players an opportunity,” said McFadden.

Selections for the squad to compete for the World Championships will be made after the Holiday Cup. Australia’s top male players are competing for their respective teams in the National Water Polo in Australia or in Leagues in Europe.

The Australian team, the Sharks, will play a full schedule of international matches to prepare for the World titles, including playing Serbia in Sydney and Canada in Perth over the summer.

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