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Leadership stamps Whitcomb's Opals role

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Overlooked for the Tokyo Olympics, Sami Whitcomb has since proved an Opals cornerstone and will be one of three leaders at this year's World Cup.

Sami Whitcomb's rise from Olympics omission to Opals centrepiece has continued with her selection as one of three leaders for this year's World Cup.

The New York Liberty WNBA guard was the last player cut from Sandy Brondello's squad to play in Tokyo last year.

The side, stunned by the late withdrawal of centre Liz Cambage, scraped into the quarter-final stage before a big loss to eventual gold medallists USA.

Offensive weapon Whitcomb showed what they missed with a starring role for an Opals team featuring nine first-timers at the Asia Cup just months later, powering them to bronze.

On Wednesday Whitcomb was named alongside fellow WNBA talent Stephanie Talbot and Melbourne Boomers guard Tess Madgen in the Opals' leadership group, voted on by players for September's Cup in Sydney.

Their appointments come after long-time captain Jenna O'Hea's retirement in March and Cambage's controversial exit from the program continued to overshadow the world No.3-ranked team's preparation for a home World Cup.

While still set to provide invaluable experience, Lauren Jackson was not included in the official leadership group after being added to the squad earlier this month.

"It's a huge honour for Steph, Sami and I to be held in such high esteem by our peers for our leadership abilities within the group," Tokyo Olympian Madgen said.

"To be voted in by your peers is really special, we don't take this for granted and are really excited to take on this role.

"We certainly want to lead by example and we feel responsible for the growth and development of the culture that we are building with this new squad.

"We want to empower everyone in the squad to be themselves and also play a role in helping us build and shape this squad as we work hard towards improving as individuals and as a team ahead of the World Cup this September".

Jackson and Madgen joined 13 other Opals squad members at a Canberra training camp this week, with the five WNBA-based players and coach Brondello to join the side ahead of the tournament.

"With players and staff across the country and world it is difficult to bring everyone together often, so when we have the chance we really look to make the most of it," assistant Cheryl Chambers said.

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