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Countdown on for new netball signings

AAP logoAAP 16/09/2016 Vince Rugari

The wheeling and dealing is all but done - now, the countdown is on to see who has landed where in the new Australian netball league.

Monday marks the official start of the athlete contracting period, meaning that after weeks of behind-the-scenes negotiations, players can start putting pen to paper with clubs and movements can be publicly announced.

But already, a clear picture is starting to emerge of the biggest winners and losers.

A Queensland Firebirds spokesman said the franchise was confident of retaining the "core" of the history-making team who won a second straight trans-Tasman grand final earlier this year - save for three key players who are certain to leave.

Skipper Laura Geitz is pregnant and stepping away from the sport for 12 months, veteran Clare McMeniman has retired, while centre Kim Ravaillion is one of a host of Diamonds stars believed to be joining potential super-team Collingwood.

The traditional AFL powerhouse have left no stone unturned in their recruitment drive with NSW Swifts pair Sharni Layton and Caitlin Thwaites also expected to defect to the Magpies, along with April Brandley from the West Coast Fever and former Melbourne Vixens skipper Madi Robinson.

While technically not permitted to talk about her future until her contract was signed, Robinson said she was buzzing at the calibre of names that had been linked to Collingwood.

"From what I'm hearing as well, it's very exciting," Robinson told EON Sports Radio.

"I know they've been working extremely hard to make sure they can put a really strong outfit together.

"There are a handful of players I know I started my netball career with and I'm looking forward to finishing it with them as well."

The Magpies are expected to unveil their full line-up on Wednesday for 2017.

The Swifts, meanwhile, will temper the loss of Layton and Thwaites with the signing of former Magic defender Kristiana Manu'a, after her Diamonds debut in the recent quad series.

But with Netball NSW and the AFL's Greater Western Sydney creating a new joint-venture team, they will have to share the state's netball resources for the first time.

The other new team, the Sunshine Coast Lightning, have reportedly snared Diamonds shooter Caitlin Bassett from the Fever.

Teams have until September 30 to finalise their rosters.

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