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Instinct Layton's key in Netball World Cup

  • Instinct Layton's key in Netball World Cup

Sharni Layton says she loves nothing more than running about "like a madman" on a netball court.

The Australian Diamonds goalkeeper relishes playing to her instincts in the circle.

While she admits that unconventional flair can be a challenge to coach, the 27-year-old's World Cup mentor has given her licence to use it during the Netball World Cup in Sydney starting next week.

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"Lisa (Alexander) knows that my style is quite unusual and I'm quite unorthodox - I don't even know what I'm going to do half the time," said Layton.

"That's how I try and play ... because (opposing attackers) don't know what I'm doing.

"Lisa's definitely said to me to just try and keep my flair, while obviously still playing within our Australian defensive structures."

Quirky and laid back off the court, the Melbourne native can be an intimidating presence on it.

Her capacity for lightning-quick intercepts and rebounds and courageous, physical play cemented her as No.1 defender in the recent trans-Tasman competition.

But while raw talent has been there from the start, Layton is proud of how far she's come in four years since she was selected for her first world championships.

As a green 23-year-old she joined the world champion Diamonds team in Singapore during her first year in the ANZ Championship, and barely a month after making her international debut against New Zealand.

"When I was younger I was super lanky and all over the place and I was on the ground more than I was standing," the NSW Swifts star said.

"But I always had the attitude that I wanted to be there and would go hard for every ball, and I guess that's how I made it into the (2011) team.

"Because although I wasn't in the starting seven they knew if they put me out there for five or 10 minutes I would just go hard the whole time and wear a player down."

The blow of shoulder surgery in 2012 and a year on the sidelines drove home just how badly Layton wanted to become a viable starting option for national selectors.

It was then that her friend, cricketer Aiden Blizzard, introduced the then Adelaide Thunderbirds star to a life-coaching course.

She credits it for reshaping her whole outlook - something that has helped her game immeasurably.

She sent her beloved horse home to Melbourne and gave away much of her social life so she could focus on working harder.

"If I didn't make sacrifices I wouldn't have gotten to where I am today.

"I would hope now they know exactly what kind of player I am and they know exactly what I can do in each of those positions."

Layton understands the need for a little bit of structure in her game, something she's learnt from two of Australia's other best defenders, Diamonds captain Laura Geitz and Julie Corletto.

However give her too much of it and she's at risk of retreating inside her shell.

"But if they allow me to run around like a madman then I really love it."

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