Sharni Layton says she is finally injury free.After getting her one injury a year out of the way, NSW Swifts defender Sharni Layton is balancing her team’s ANZ Championship aspirations with helping the Australian Diamonds win Commonwealth Games gold. Layton is one of four Swifts players in the 18-strong Diamonds squad alongside teammates Kimberlee Green, Canberra-born Susan Pratley and Caitlin Thwaites for a selection camp at the AIS from May 5-7. Before then, the Swifts will play the inaugural ANZ Championship match in Canberra, when they take on New Zealand side Southern Steel in a historic Anzac Day encounter at the AIS Arena. Layton had two stints at the AIS, in 2007 and 2009, in a career in which she has borne the brunt of her physical play. A fractured thumb this year that forced her to miss two games is the latest chapter to an injury history that includes a dislocated elbow, a slipped disc in her back, shoulder surgery and ruptured ligaments in her ankles. “I generally go on one a year, so hopefully I’ve got it out of the way,” Layton said. “That’s just how I like to play just because I wouldn’t be the player I am if I pulled out on balls and things like that. “It just comes with me being a bit unco-ordinated, unfortunately.” The 26-year-old Melbourne native is in her first season at the Swifts after playing a key role with defending champions Adelaide Thunderbirds for the past four years. She is relishing the challenge of making her mark on a new team but faces the unusual situation of going into camp with the national squad next month while the domestic season is still in progress. “It’s quite strange this year because it’s never been during the season before, so it’s really bizarre being a part of the Swifts working towards a premiership and at the same time having this in the background,” Layton said. “I’ve always believed if you put your best performances as a team you give yourself the best chance to make that. “Although the Commonwealth Games is in my sights, it’s the premiership that is closer.” The third-placed Swifts will be looking to bounce back from last weekend’s 56-50 loss to the top of the table Melbourne Vixens when they take on the Queensland Firebirds in Brisbane on Sunday. After that, their next challenge is in Canberra on Anzac Day, a game Layton is looking forward to, having been a regular for the Collingwood and Essendon AFL blockbusters. “It’s amazing to be at the MCG and it’s a really moving experience,” Layton said. “To be able to play my own sport on Anzac Day and to remember the men and women who have served this country is really special.” The Diamonds are eager to end the run of arch rivals New Zealand and claim their first Commonwealth Games gold medal since Manchester in 2002. Australian coach Lisa Alexander will trim her squad from 18 to 12 following next month’s camp in Canberra. ANZ Championship: NSW Swifts v Southern Steel at the AIS Arena on Anzac Day. Game starts at 1.48pm with doors open from 1pm. Tickets from www.ticketek南京夜网.au
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