Hands-off pact by new franchises

Last updated 00:00 14/08/2007

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An unofficial moratorium on approaching players has been self-imposed by the five Kiwi franchises in netball's Tasman Trophy competition.

Canterbury Netball's Flames franchise chairman, Ian Hunt, said the moratorium was being used while other aspects of the fledgling trans-Tasman league were put in place.

The standstill on player recruitment will last to the end of the month, Hunt said, in what he regarded as a "co-operative" move forward from the New Zealand franchises.

"I think it shows a growing maturity in which franchises are approaching the Tasman Trophy."

But the player interest is likely to heat up next month at the national championships in Palmerston North despite the event not including the 12-strong Silver Ferns squad preparing for the world championships.

Fringe players could be pushing for places in franchise teams and will be hoping to impress at the national tournament.

Franchise representatives met last week with Tony Holding, the general manager of Joint Venture – the company running the new netball league – to talk about progress of the trophy competition. Hunt said things were "moving forward on multiple fronts and at some speed".

Discussions ranged from the participation agreement to the rules regarding a salary cap, the formation of a netball players' association, branding, rules and the draw.

"You name it, it's all go," Hunt said. "Everyone's moving forward with a positive frame of mind but conscious that time is getting short and there's a need to move quickly."

He said there remained a cautious optimism about next year's competition.

"I wouldn't want to suggest there isn't an awful lot still to do." The Flames are the only Kiwi franchise to confirm its coach for 2008 with Helen Mahon-Stroud getting the nod.

Auckland is starting interviews this week, while the Central franchise, based in Wellington, hopes to announce its new coach by the end of the month.

Australia has named four of its five new franchise coaches with former Fiji coach Julie Hoornweg taking on Victoria, Julie Fitzgerald with New South Wales, Sue Gaudion guiding Western Australia and former Australian captain Vicki Wilson sticking with Queensland. Only South Australia is yet to announce its coach.

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- The Press

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