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Coach wary of imports in Aust netball comp

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 8/07/2016

Diamonds head coach Lisa Alexander is wary of overseas netballers taking too many prime positions in the new all-Australian competition, but says the creation of extra teams means local talent won't be held back.

Netball Australia has scrapped restrictions in which teams can have only one import player on contract for the yet-to-be-named league, which will replace the trans-Tasman Championships in 2017.

"Our concerns will be around the positions those imports take up," Alexander said.

"(In 2015) the imports were played in the top seven week in, week out.

"We had three imports taking up goalkeeper positions so we only had two local goalkeepers to choose from."

But Alexander said this was unlikely to be the case in the new competition.

"Even with unrestricted imports, we back our ability to provide support for the athletes of this nation," she said.

"We would not want to not have that international flavour."

Former Diamonds captain and NSW Swifts veteran Liz Ellis is also confident the depth of Australian talent will win out.

"It's only going to strengthen Australian netball because athletes lift their game to maintain their positions," she said.

The new teams - to join the Firebirds, Vixens, Swifts, Fever and Thunderbirds - will be supported by the Collingwood and Greater Western Sydney AFL clubs and the Melbourne Storm NRL club.

New Zealand players will require special dispensation to cross the ditch and won't be eligible for the Silver Ferns if they play in the Australian competition.

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