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Race for best players in new netball comp

NZN 19/05/2016 Melissa Woods

Netballers across the globe will be scouted for the new and cashed-up Australian competition to start next year.

Three news sides - one from Collingwood AFL club, one from the NRL's Melbourne Storm but based on Queensland's Sunshine Coast, and the other a joint initiative by Netball NSW and the GWS Giants AFL club - will join the five existing Australian teams from the trans-Tasman league, which will end after the current season.

Netball Australia was forced to break away from the low-rating New Zealand teams and bolster the local content with an all-Australian competition to secure a five-year broadcasting deal with Nine Network.

That means career opportunities for approximately 35 additional players, with a scramble on to secure the best with the new competition to start in February.

While spots will predominantly be filled by young talent from the existing second-tier Australian Netball League, Netball Australia chief executive Kate Palmer says she wants the best in the world playing in the competition.

New Zealand's Test players however are off limits, with the Australians agreeing not to weaken New Zealand's own new national competition, which includes their five current team plus another based in greater Auckland.

"We will look internationally for athletes," Palmer said.

"We want athletes from all over the world to be playing so I think our eyes will first turn to England, South Africa; where there are over two million players, the other African nations such as Malawi and Jamaica as well."

Palmer said that it would be up to existing clubs, such as reigning champions the Queensland Firebirds, to nut out and lock in contracts with their star players, with some of them contracted to play in the trans-Tasman competition, which will no longer exist.

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