Netball sensation Donnell Wallam thought it was a scam at first when national coach Stacey Marinkovich called to reveal her meteoric rise to the Diamonds squad.
The 28-year-old goal shooter has been called up in an extended 18-player squad ahead of the Commonwealth Games after shooting 210 goals in her first five Super Netball games for the Queensland Firebirds.
It comes just three months after Wallam was invited to train with the Firebirds in January, then starred in the pre-season cup to earn a contract as a replacement for Romelda Aiken-George, who is on maternity leave.
“I was so shocked and when I first answered the call, I thought it was a scam because it was a public holiday in the afternoon,” Wallam told Fox Sports.
“Then she (Marinkovic) introduced herself and I just went into shock because I felt what was coming.”
Wallam, a Noongar woman, is the first Aboriginal person to make the Diamonds since Sharon Finnan-White in 1990 and only the third overall, after Marcia Ella-Duncan and Finnan-White.
“It’s an incredible achievement and one that I’m just so very proud of,” Wallam said.
“I just hope that I can inspire our First Nations athletes to keep following their dreams now, seeing I made the squad.
“Marcia and Sharon, I just want to thank them for paving the way and pay tribute how I can.”
Marinkovic hailed Wallam for capitalising on her first Super Netball opportunity.
“You can see through now the match-ups she’s coming up against, she’s showing that she is getting volume of goals, she’s showing that she can shoot under the post but even further out,” Marinkovich told Fox Sports.
“It’s a point of difference for us. We’ve got a lot of movers but we’re looking at that post-up option as well.”
Marinkovich could have selected up to 22 players but opted for an 18-player squad, which will be trimmed to 12 before the Games.
Shooter Kiera Austin, coming back from an ACL injury, and Amy Parmenter are the other additions.
But Wallam’s Queensland teammate Kim Ravaillion was a surprising omission, despite her standout start to the season.
Australia is seeking redemption for their heartbreaking loss to England in the 2018 Commonwealth Games final on the Gold Coast.