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Swifts face long rebuild after exodus: Cox

AAP logoAAP 22/09/2016 Emma Kemp

It's a good thing NSW Swifts coach Rob Wright has re-signed until 2020 because he's going to need years to rebuild his pillaged team, former Diamonds and Swifts great Catherine Cox says.

She says fans will jump ship, too, after several stars were poached in a signing spree before the inaugural Australian netball league season.

The Swifts' best defender, Sharni Layton, and top shooter Caitlin Thwaites left this week to join Collingwood's star-studded squad, which also includes three other Diamonds.

Foundation players Kim Green and Susan Pettitt added their names to the exodus on Thursday when it was announced they would headline the Swifts' new Greater Western Sydney-backed rivals under their former coach Julie Fitzgerald.

Midcourter Stephanie Wood has also been unveiled on the roster of the third expansion side, the Melbourne Storm-backed Sunshine Coast Lightning.

The poachings have ripped out the heart of NSW's successful and popular glamour club, which played in the past two grand finals of the defunct trans-Tasman competition.

Cox said the off-season plundering was inevitable given the addition of new teams and a pay increase for players.

Wright now faces "huge" challenges to make his side competitive again.

"They're going to really struggle," Cox told AAP.

"From what I've seen of the players they've got, they're all rookies.

"Rob has an uphill battle, but tactically he's a very good coach and the players new to the big league will learn a lot really quickly.

"The good thing is he has re-signed for a substantial amount of time so he does have time to rebuild.

"He's not left with one year of his contract and trying to get a win on the board because that's just not going to happen."

The Giants have assembled a strong roster also including England internationals Serena Guthrie and Jo Harten, and recent Diamonds debutant defender Kristiana Manu'a.

Harten and Manu'a were coached by Fitzgerald at New Zealand franchise Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic.

Cox, the Swifts' foundation captain, wasn't surprised her former teammates Green and Pettitt had jumped at the opportunity to play under Fitzgerald again.

But she felt sure the club would lose a chunk of its enthusiastic fans.

"I know stacks of people who have supported the Swifts from day one who have already said they're not going to renew their membership," Cox said.

"One of them particularly is a massive Sharni fan, so why would you be there?"

"Also, if you're a Swifts fan from way back it's quite appealing to have the (new Giants) threesome of Julie Fitzgerald, Kim Green, Susan Pratley (Pettitt) together again."

The Swifts will announce their 2017 playing roster on Friday.

GIANTS NETBALL TEAM:

Toni Anderson, Kristina Brice, Taylah Davies, Kim Green, Serena Guthrie, Jo Harten, Kristiana Manu'a, Susan Pettitt, Sam Poolman, Jamie-Lee Price

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