Kiwis keen on novel netball variant

11:28, Mar 30 2009

New Zealand is committed to sending a full-strength team to netball's new world series despite concerns of player burnout.

The new contest netball's version of rugby sevens will be contested from October 9 to 11 in Manchester, England, where the sport's top-six nations will play a shortened version of the game under new rules.

Now was the "right time" to introduce such a tournament on the back of the successful ANZ Championship, Netball New Zealand high performance manager Tracey Fear said.

"This is the first time netball's gone down this track so for it to have any chance of success it is important for us all to take it seriously," Fear said.

"We would give every opportunity to have our top players involved," she said.

It is understood the Silver Ferns may include a tour on the back of the tournament in Manchester, adding to what is a lengthening season with the longer trans-Tasman league and the annual Australia-Ferns test series.


"There is the concern about player burnout but I think we're now in the era where our top players are able to focus more on their netball and are more professional," Fear said.

"It's something we're very aware of in our high-performance area and it's about managing the workload."

Fear was excited to see a number of rule changes, some of which Netball New Zealand had put forward to the international body to consider for the traditional game.

These included the use of rolling substitutions and reducing the amount of whistle in the game.

Other significant changes include the ability for shooters to shoot from outside the circle for extra points and the use of a power play during one quarter when any goals scored will be doubled.

Coaching also will be allowed from the sideline and the centre pass will now go to the team conceding the last goal scored.

Fear did not see a change in rules having a negative effect on play in the traditional game.

"It's early days and the rules have been trialled by the England squad," she said.

"We've seen a DVD of them. There will be challenges from a high-performance perspective for [Ferns coach] Ruth [Aitken] to go from a traditional game to preparing a team to play in the world series.

"It will be a case of who adapts quickest."

International Federation of Netball Association president Molly Rhone said it was a "fantastic opportunity" to showcase the sport.

"It is a moment in history for us, as it is the first time the best teams from all around the globe will gather to compete in a new, faster format of netball."

The Press