Captain Katrina Grant hopeful lure of Silver Ferns will continue to trump Aussie offers
It doesn't look like Maria Tutaia is off to play in Australia.
The star goal attack's name wasn't among the squad lists for their 2018 league released this week, although that doesn't automatically mean Tutaia will play in New Zealand's national premiership next year. There's talk a sabbatical is on the cards and that an announcement might be imminent.
That means Laura Langman, Leana de Bruin and Cathrine Tuivaiti will be the New Zealanders plying their trade over the ditch.
Silver Ferns captain Katrina Grant understands why her friends and team-mates were attracted to Australia, but hasn't been similarly tempted to give up her international eligibility.
"I like playing for NZ and going to Commonwealth Games and world champs is kind of the pinnacle of my career, so I don't want to make that not a possibility," Grant said.
You could mount a strong argument that Netball New Zealand aren't so blessed with elite players that they can thumb their nose at Langman, in particular. It's just that Grant won't say it along with you.
"It's a really hard one because you don't want NZ talent to go away and make our competition not viable. You know, people want to see the best players in New Zealand playing so, from that point of I understand [NNZ's policy]," she said.
"But then I also understand where Lauz is coming from. She wants to improve her game and is always wanting to be at the top of her game and try something new and embrace new hallenges, so I feel like these things are all very individual and [should be judged] on an individual basis."
The issue is that elite athletes like elite competition and, with the best will in the world, New Zealand's league is not elite. It's second rate and players need only look as far as Australia to see that.
Noeline Taurua, for instance, has just about done it all as a netball coach. At the Magic she won the New Zealand league and the trans-Tasman league but winning the Australian one, along with Langman at the new Sunshine Coast franchise, arguably tops the lot.
It only be natural for netball people in New Zealand to also want to test themselves in that arena.
"I hope a whole lot won't go away because I would really like to think that playing for your country is No.1," said the 30-year-old Grant.
"When I was growing up I always wanted to be a Silver Fern and, personally, I wouldn't want to jeopardise that by going to Aussie. There's heaps of time, if you go to a Comm Games or world champs and then go and play in Aussie, if that's what you wanted to do. But, yeah, it's a hard one."