Diamonds face a Cup brimming with challengers
Australian Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander is emphatic in her claims this year's World Cup in England in July will be the most competitive in the history of the event.
Alexander believes the expanding depth of international netball means there is no longer an expectation the Diamonds and New Zealand will dominate the game.
This was no more evident than last year's Gold Coast Commonwealth Games when England upset the Diamonds in the final. The Diamonds and Silver Ferns had contested the previous five gold medal deciders.
They have also met in six of the seven World Cup finals since the champion was determined by a round-robin format. South Africa was beaten by the Diamonds in the 1995 final.
However, Alexander is adamant the Diamonds will confront an abundance of obstacles in their title defence following the emergence of other nations with lofty ambitions.
"We saw at the quad series in England last month how evenly matched the teams are and that is truthfully where we are at," Alexander said.
"I'm not trying to pump it up, but South Africa as well, it's Malawi and Uganda, and let's not forget Jamaica. They beat England in a three-Test series last year and in their day can beat anyone.
"It is making my job much more interesting, there is more pressure to perform. That pressure is normal though even if it is just us and NZ."
England backed up its stunning Commonwealth Games performance with a win over the Diamonds in the quad series, which Australia won on overall standings.
Diamonds captain and gun shooter Caitlin Bassett was unavailable for the series, however, and her return to the side will have a significant impact.
But Alexander has stressed in individual meetings with national squad members the importance of the opening five rounds of Super Netball when selection for the World Cup goes on the line.
"The team has not been selected and won't be until we see the form on the board from all athletes," she said. "There could be additions to the squad and we will look at the pre-season tournament, our camp in March and the first five rounds of SN.
"It is definitely an opportunity to show what they can do."
The national squad will have a week-long camp in Canberra next month and the 12-person team for the World Cup will be selected after round five of SN. There will be another camp in Canberra in June and the team will spend time in Manchester before the Cup in Liverpool from July 12-21.