19 May 2016

Scrapping of trans-Tasman netball competition welcomed

4:54 pm on 19 May 2016

The scrapping of the trans-Tasman netball competition will help rather than hinder player development according to the wider New Zealand netball community.

This year will be the final year of the competition which began in 2008.

From 2017 New Zealand and Australia each run its own domestic competition with Australia wanting to pull out of the current set-up in large part due to the lack of competitiveness of New Zealand sides.

A second Auckland based franchise will be established for the new six team domestic competition with option for an eight team competition, with the establishment of three new franchises there.

The Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic grand final win in 2012 is the only time a New Zealand team managed to win the trans-Tasman competition with Australian sides winning the other seven tournaments.

Magic win the Grand final against Melbourne Vixens in Melbourne. 2012 ANZ Netball Championship.

The Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic celebrate their trans-Tasman grand final win in 2012. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

It was the lopsided nature of the competition that led Australia to push for change with Netball New Zealand chief executive Hillary Poole saying keeping the current format was never a possibility.

Poole said the only way a combined competition could have continued as far as Australia was concerned was if the number of New Zealand teams was cut from five to three.

The status quo said Poole "was never on the table," and accepting a reduction to three teams would "have been a retrograde step."

"What we need to do is invest in our game and develop our style of play and build on the intense (domestic) rivalries we have seen this year," said Poole.

Netball NZ chief executive Hilary Poole.

Netball NZ chief executive Hillary Poole. Photo: Photosport

Noelene Taurua coaches the New Zealand conference leaders the Southern Steel and also coached the Magic to the 2012 title and believes the new format will increase player depth here.

She understands why those such as former Silver Fern Irene van Dyk feel the removal of regular trans-Tasman matches will hinder development but she doesn't agree.

"I don't feel we have shifted or moved in the whole ten years of playing against Australian sides and if anything we have become victims, or have a victim mentality, when we do play against them....so we can keep going down the same path but I don't think it's going to benefit us," said Taurua.

The former Silver Fern and current Central Pulse coach Tanya Deans is ambivalent towards the change describing it as back to the future in that it resembles the National Bank cup which was the pre-cursor to the current competition.

She concedes it could lead to more New Zealand players looking to follow Silver Fern Laura Langman's lead and chasing a dispensation from Netball New Zealand to sign with Australian clubs.

"For girls who have made netball their profession you are going to want to go where there are the best opportunities to make a living so that (moving to Australia) could happen and it all depends on what the national body wants to do around the Silver Ferns as to how that will work."

Joline Henry

Former Silver Fern Joline Henry. Photo: Photosport

Another former Silver Fern Joline Henry is disappointed the trans-Tasman element has been abandoned but doesn't believe it will have a detrimental impact on the Silver Ferns ability to be competitive against Australia at international level.

"I don't think it ever caused us a problem prior to the trans-Tasman competition and I don't think it will in the future as to what it comes down to is how players prepare for internationals."

The dropping of regular trans-Tasman matches "is sad" said Henry "but there are still the New Zealand versus Aussie clashes and that will only heighten the expectation for those."

Netball New Zealand hopes to retain some international element for the domestic competition and is devising a tournament whereby the top team or teams can play other top international club sides.

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