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Netball eligibility linked to new league

NZN 18/05/2016 By Cathy Walshe

New Zealand's top netballers won't be eligible for the Silver Ferns if they play for a team in the new Australian domestic league.

The current 10-team trans-Tasman netball league will be scrapped at the end of this season, with New Zealand and Australia setting up separate domestic competitions.

Chief executive Hilary Poole said Netball New Zealand's eligibility ruling won't change with the much-heralded demise of the ANZ Championship after nine seasons.

"To be eligible for the Silver Ferns you do need to play for a New Zealand team in the New Zealand competition," she told NZ Newswire.

"Exceptions will only be granted in exceptional circumstances, and that won't change. That's really, really important going forward."

At the moment, only Silver Ferns midcourter Laura Langman plays for an Australian franchise after she was given special dispensation to suit up for the NSW Swifts this year.

"Laura is exceptional, she's a tremendous servant of the game," Poole said.

West Coast Fever defender Erana Mikaere, who has previously played for the Magic and Steel, is the only other Kiwi turning out for an Australian team.

The New Zealand elite league will be a triple round robin featuring the current five New Zealand teams - Tactix, Mystics, Magic, Pulse and Steel - plus a new team based in the greater Auckland area.

The current five Australian trans-Tasman sides - Firebirds, Vixens, Swifts, Fever and Thunderbirds - will be joined by three others in an eight-team domestic Australian competition.

The three teams are being supported by the Collingwood AFL club, Melbourne Storm NRL club and the Greater Western Sydney AFL club.

Teams in the New Zealand competition will play 15 round robin games culminating in a two-game finals series with the top three.

The playing schedule will include Super Sundays, featuring all six teams in action at the same venue, as well as Monday and Wednesday night matches.

Poole said NNZ was working on an international component which would follow the New Zealand domestic league, with the best Kiwi teams playing the top Australian sides.

"Over time we'd like to have teams come in from other leagues around the world - South Africa, England and Jamaica have all got strong leagues.

"We're taking a view of the game in terms of its global growth and development, longer term."

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