If Diamonds goal attack Erin Bell has learnt anything in the past 18 months, it’s that sometimes it takes a real kick in the guts to get where you want to be.
The 28-year-old Adelaide Thunderbird has endured a frustratingly long spell on the outer of the Australian netball team, having not being called up for a single international since September 2013’s Test series against New Zealand and Malawi.
But nothing hurt quite as much as being overlooked for a Commonwealth Games berth in Glasgow, a long-held dream that would have yielded her a gold medal.
Bell was devastated by what was seen at the time as a controversial omission by coach Lisa Alexander.
However, in hindsight she admits it was a let-down her career desperately needed.
Back in 2013 Alexander had identified chinks in Bell’s game she needed to address before the 2011 world championships star was ready to represent Australia again.
With next month’s World Cup in mind, coach and player sat down together at the end of last year and hashed out how she could increase her imagination and adaptability in the attacking third.
“I think I had been probably playing the same style of netball for a few years and it was becoming a bit predictable,” Bell told AAP.
“I did need to mix it up.
“But if I had have made the Comm Games team maybe I wouldn’t have realised that because I would have thought everything was going okay.
“And maybe if I had have made that team I wouldn’t have made this World Cup team.
“Everything happens for a reason.”
Bell spent the most recent ANZ Championship season developing her technique, including her most valuable weapon – the potent long-range shot.
It was a tough slog but one that made her selection in Australia’s final 12 for their world title defence in Sydney all the sweeter.
Bell will join the Diamonds on a final five-day training camp in Newcastle from Friday, before the squad kicks off their World Cup campaign against Trinidad and Tobago on August 7.
“I think when you want something so bad and you’ve been working your whole career towards it, and then it’s taken away from you, it does give you that new appreciation because you think `Alright, well what if this happens again?'”
Ask Alexander why Bell had the edge for the second contentious goal attack bib over the likes of in-form NSW Swifts shooter Susan Pettitt, Firebirds young gun Gretel Tippett and Glasgow Games incumbent Tegan Phillips, and she cites a couple of reasons.
One undeniable factor is her new-found versatility, including her ability to slot in as wing attack when needed.
But Alexander is also quick to mention Bell’s incredible personal resilience.
Bell herself says she won’t be putting pressure on herself to challenge mainstay Natalie Medhurst for the starting goal attack spot, though she’ll certainly provide “a fair tussle”.
“I’m going to try and push to start but I won’t be thinking that’s the be all and end all,” Bell said.
“Nat has been around a little bit longer than me and there is a lot that I can learn off her still.
“But I’ll be ready to go, because I’ve already sat on the bench at a World Cup and watched it all unfold, so I’m four years stronger and more experienced.”