Foes Now Friends As Super Netball Starts
Recent foes have become friends after swapping international bibs for Super Netball ones, as the competition enters it's second season featuring a radical new points system.
Two weeks after the Commonwealth Games ended in thrilling fashion, many of the stars of that tournament will participate in the eight-team Australian domestic competition starting this weekend.
After battling it out in the Games final on the Gold Coast, Diamonds captain and shooter Caitlin Bassett and England defender Geva Mentor will again join forces for defending Super Netball premiers Sunshine Coast Lightning, with the latter leading the Queensland side.
With a bonus point awarded for winning every quarter, teams could earn as many as eight points in a game.
While the reaction has been largely positive, there have also been suggestions coaches might stick to their starting seven for longer in a bid to obtain maximum points.
"What I really liked last year was the rotation, that you had a a real strong ten and I hope teams are still able to put out (all of) those players on court," Mentor said.
"It's not just about trying to yes, win each quarter, but not just flogging the (starting) seven, that you are really going to need all 10 players out on court.
"But I think its exciting for the game, Something needs to change in terms of thinking outside the box and this is definite;y one example that we're looking forward to experimenting with."
Lightning have lost a crucial component of their championship-winning squad in veteran New Zealand midcourter Laura Langman, though Mentor believes that will allow other players to step up and shine.
"Obviously we've got got the target on our back but what a fantastic position to be in," Mentor said.
Mentor is one of many high profile overseas players returning to the competition.
Among the newcomers is West Coast Fever's formidable Jamaican shooter Jhaniele Fowler.
“I think it’s going to be hardcore netball, the intensity is going to lift, and I think you will see a really hard, physical and quality game.” #TheBattle #netball #allontheline @MelbourneVixens @magpies_netball https://t.co/Tpw7DcJVqK pic.twitter.com/lezKKVA1LC— #SuncorpSuperNetball (@SuperNetball) April 26, 2018
"I think looking at most of the teams this year, the level has gone up and I think thats whats so exciting about this competition," Mentor said.
Last season's losing grand finalists, the Giants, will have veteran midcourter Kimberlee Greene and defender Kristiana Manu'a back from long term injuries.
The inaugural minor premiers, Melbourne Vixens, will look to rebound from losing both their finals games, while cross-town rivals Collingwood have added another Diamond, Erin Bell, to their star-studded roster.
After many Diamonds switched clubs for the first year of Super Netball, Bell is one of the few big names to have moved in a comparatively quiet off season.
Fever, Queensland Firebirds, NSW Swifts and Adelaide Thunderbirds will attempt to break into the top four.
Firebirds have former Diamonds captain Laura Geitz back from pregnancy to bolster their defence.
Adelaide have recruited several overseas players and Swifts have a new coach in Briony Akle.
The opening round features a Melbourne derby and a grand final rematch between Lightning and Giants.