The Central Pulse are expected to announce a raft of signings for the 2013 Trans-Tasman Netball League season in the coming days.
It's hoped that it will begin later this week with confirmation that captain Katrina Grant is returning to the franchise.
The Pulse have verbal agreements with as many as 18 players for next year and will be able to turn those into contracts once the dominoes start to fall.
As captain, and face of the Pulse, Grant will be given the courtesy of having her signing announced first, with the final make-up of the 12-strong squad to be determined by which of the remaining 17 players coach Robyn Broughton wants, how many are prepared to sign and who the franchise can afford.
Teams have to fit their squads under a $380,000 salary cap, with each of the 18 players the Pulse are in regular contact with having been given a market value.
Pulse general manager Kyla Lange said the players had contract "terms" in front of them, rather than actual contracts, and she was confident none was in danger of wandering off elsewhere despite the lengthy delay in the signing process.
"We're talking to a lot of them every couple of days and giving them an update on where we're at and vice versa. So I'd like to think that the communication lines are well and truly open," Lange said.
Still, given there's barely a player in the country with a contract for next year, a collective edginess would be understandable.
"It's a stressful time of year for everyone.
"Everybody deserves to know whether or not they're going to have a job for next year and this is these girls' livelihood," Lange said. "Absolutely there is a little bit of frustration out there with how long it's taken and we're doing everything we can to try to alleviate that."
Simply put, this off-season has been a shambles.
Trans-Tasman Netball Limited's delays in signing off on a collective agreement have pushed this situation far later in the year than it should have been.
A draw for next year still hasn't been made public, although it appears the competition will start on March 23.
Also, New Zealand's best players are involved in an international campaign, which has made contract negotiations even more problematic.
The good news for the Pulse is that once players are able to put pen to paper, then there should be money in the pot to pay them.
The franchise's existing, and prospective, sponsors are as anxious as anyone to see who'll be in next year's team before they commit too many dollars. But indications are that the Pulse will be in a position to offer the kinds of third-party deals that will be essential in compiling a competitive squad.
Former Silver Fern Donna Wilkins and Australian shooter Caitlin Thwaites remain in the Pulse's sights, while it's anticipated that Grant, Joline Henry, Camilla Lees and Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit will all be re-signed.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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