Changes to trans-Tasman competition 'fantastic'

NATHAN BURDON
Last updated 05:00 30/05/2014

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Netball

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It is no surprise that the coach of the sixth-placed team in the trans-Tasman league is keen to see a change that would mean the top six make it into next year's finals.

Steel coach Janine Southby is a fan of potential changes to the dual-country netball competition, which is coming the end of a seventh season.

Those changes would include the introduction of Australian and New Zealand conferences, with the top three teams from each advancing to a protracted finals scenario. A Ranfurly Shield-style challenge competition would also be added to the format.

"I think, from where we are sitting at the moment, it would be fantastic," Southby said.

"It changes it up and it probably needs a change, something different to add a bit more interest."

While having six teams qualify for the finals from a 10-team competition might be considered excessive, Southby said the positives outweighed the negatives.

"The way it's structured at the moment, some teams find out early on that they aren't capable of making the top four. Everyone is always aiming for that and when you lose that incentive it's hard."

The actual structure of next year's competition would remain the same, with New Zealand teams playing each other twice and the Australian teams once.

If there was a change Southby could make, it would be to move to a full home-and-away round-robin.

"I always think a true reflection would be home and away so that you actually get to play the Australian teams twice. I know there are some huge financial ramifications from that but it would be the ultimate, from my perspective."

Southby is expected to sign on for a fourth season with the Ascot Park Hotel-sponsored team next year but has not committed yet. Player reviews and the recruitment process begin immediately after tomorrow's final round-robin game, against the table-topping Melbourne Vixens in Invercargill.

Goal shooter Jhaniele Fowler-Reid, who is making good progress after spraining a knee against the Tactix on Sunday, is the only player confirmed for next year.

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- The Southland Times

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