NEWCASTLE Jets captain Gema Simon was ‘‘blindsided’’ but excited after she and vice-captain Hannah Brewer arrived in camp yesterday following selection in their first Matildas squad.
Simon, 23, and Brewer, 20, joined a 23-woman Australian squad in Sydney to prepare for the Cyprus Cup after impressing coach Hesterine de Reus at a four-day camp last week at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra.
The pair and fellow Jet Rhali Dobson returned from the 22-woman camp on Saturday night.
Brewer and Simon were notified of their call-up on Sunday night.
They made the cut after players from W-League grand finalists Melbourne Victory and Brisbane Roar joined the selection frame.
The squad leaves tomorrow for the 12-team tournament in Cyprus where Australia play France, Scotland and the Netherlands next week.
The Matildas are preparing for May’s Asian Cup in Vietnam, which doubles as qualifiers for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
The Jets duo, who are foundation players at Newcastle, had been part of Young Matildas sides and Simon had been to a senior training camp, but selection in an open national squad was a first for both.
It follows the Jets’ worst W-League campaign, in which they finished last with only one competition point from 12 games.
‘‘It’s certainly a positive out of the season and it’s exciting,’’ Simon said.
‘‘It hasn’t really sunk in yet. It’s a bit surreal and I don’t think it will sink in until we get to Cyprus.’’
Simon’s hopes of returning to national team colours have been derailed by injury in recent seasons, making the sudden rise this week a shock to the system.
‘‘I’ve just focused on getting back on the park, playing consistently and playing well,’’ Simon said.
‘‘Whether it was playing for Newcastle or my club or overseas, I just wanted to get my body right.
‘‘I didn’t really plan on this at all. I never really expected it, it blindsided me but in the best possible way.’’
After the Cyprus tournament, Simon and Brewer face a hectic three months of matches and camps in preparation for the Asian Cup and potential World Cup qualification.
Fellow foundation Jet Kate Gill, who plays for Perth Glory, will captain the squad, which also contains former Newcastle players Emily van Egmond, Alanna Kennedy and Nicola Bolger.