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Layton likens netball duel to dog fight

  • Layton likens netball duel to dog fight

NSW Swifts goal-keeper Sharni Layton clearly subscribes to Mark Twain's philosophy about the size of fight in the dog being more important than the size of the dog in the fight.

Queensland Firebirds' Australian conference MVP Romelda Aiken, who is shooting at an 82 per cent success rate this season, will enjoy a nine-centimetre height advantage over Layton in Sunday's trans-Tasman netball grand final.

"Dogs don't know how big they are, so you might have a little yappy dog and when it comes up against a bigger dog, it doesn't actually realise its size," Layton told AAP.

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"So sometimes from a mental point of view going out to play, that's how you have to look at it."

Asked to nominate what dog breeds she would compare Aiken and herself to, Layton chuckled and said "Romelda is definitely a great dane and I reckon I would probably be like a border collie; it's quite jumpy but not as big as the great dane."

The 187cm Layton, who leads the competition in several defensive statistical categories, is far from daunted given she invariably concedes height to most shooters.

"It's such a great challenge to go out against girls who are that much taller than you, I've had to change so much in regards to my athleticism," Layton said.

"I've had to improve my vertical jump, I've had to improve my power, change of direction.

"I'm just grateful to have the opportunity to go out and play girls like that, because I've been able to add so much to my game."

A modest Layton brushed aside the suggestion she is enjoying a career-best season by attributing her success to the combined efforts of her defensive colleagues.

"It's the pressure that this unit puts on together that presents opportunity for a goal-keeper to be able to come out and have a go at the ball," Layton said.

Swifts' midcourt utility Jade Clarke called Layton an inspiration to her teammates.

"Anything that is humanly possible for her to get she will get," Clarke told AAP.

"We all just want to follow in her footsteps and put our bodies on the line and go for everything that we can and she's always full of energy and she brings that out in us as well."

Layton certainly has championship pedigree, featuring in Adelaide's 2010 and 2013 title triumphs at wing defence and goal keeper respectively, while being used almost exclusively in the latter position this year by Swifts' coach Rob Wright.

Firebirds and Australian captain Laura Geitz looms large as a formidable obstacle to the goal keeper spot in the Diamonds starting side, but Layton regards her own versatility as an asset.

"I played wing defence last year at the Commonwealth games and for me my versatility is something that I want to keep under my belt," Layton said.

"You want to put as many kind of tools in your little kit bag as possible."

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