Is 'dunking' the next trick for netball?
Do you think the Canterbury Tactix should use the "ladies' lineout" in future?
Canterbury Tactix coach Leigh Gibbs believes "it is only a matter of time" before shooters aided by lifters start "dunking" the ball in netball.
Netball is now asking 'Where to now?' after the supposedly genteel sport's playbook was torn to shreds by the Northern Mystics on Sunday.
Anna Harrison was lifted by her defensive partners Kayla Cullen and Jess Moulds in a new defensive play dubbed the "ladies' lineout" which resulted in four Melbourne Vixens' shots being deflected from goal.
The Mystics host the Tactix on Sunday. The eyes of the netball world will be trained on the match to monitor Harrison's progress and Gibbs was not surprised to hear her opposition coach Debbie Fuller confirm yesterday that the floodgates had opened and her side would use the ploy, which is legal, while it remained so.
"Why wouldn't they," she said. "I think it is a great innovation and really exciting for the game and yes, it begs the question, where to now?
"I think it is only a matter of time before players start dunking the ball at the other end of the court.
"Netball is slightly different from basketball in the sense players are not allowed to hang or even touch the hoop, and we also have the three second rule which would make the timing tricky.
"But as the Mystics have shown there is always a new innovation out there and it is only a matter of time before lifting is used at the shooting end of the court, too."
Long-suffering Canterbury fans will of course be hoping Gibbs can usher in the innovation to the Tactix's repertoire in time for Sunday's match.
However, Gibbs believes teams will not rush to emulate the Mystics.
"We do not have the players or skill set to execute what they do. So I think we'll have to concentrate on getting the most out of ourselves in a more conventional sense."
Fuller revealed yesterday that her side had been working on the "ladies' lineout" at training for about four weeks and had briefed umpires to check on its legality.
Her plan was to unveil it in the championship semifinals but her side was forced to reveal their hand when they became unsure if they would make the playoffs. Now teams with more firepower than the Tactix, notably the Australians, who claimed yesterday they had been working on their own version of the lift weeks ago, will scramble to emulate them.
Fuller appeared unconcerned when she said: "Our shooters have been practising against it for four weeks. They are used to countering it".
Reaction from across the Tasman has been mixed, Fuller said.
"We are still in Australia and there are people not happy about it. The players are but the non-educated public aren't. The netball fraternity has been really positive, the opposition were really positive. They were happy we pulled it off because they hadn't had the courage to do so themselves."
LADY LIFTING - QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
1. IS LIFTING HERE TO STAY?
The chairwoman of the International Federation of Netball Associations (IFNA), Dawn Jones, believes so.
The Auckland-based administrator confirmed yesterday that lifting in netball was legal, and unless an emergency was declared the rules of the game were not due to be reviewed until 2015. "If it got to the stage where it was being done over a different kind of aspect from what we've had here, which is only a few occasions, it may be that it would need to be looked at, but I don't see at this point that there's any desire to do anything."
2. WHO CAME UP WITH THE IDEA?
It was first used in the 1970s, when Chris Stanton from Western Australia tried it. She was a high jump champion. It has also been used irregularly in men's netball and in Singapore at last year's world championships in a bid to combat a two-metres-tall shooter from Sri Lanka. Anna Harrison was not the first but has so far proved the most successful.
3. WERE NETBALL'S POWERS CONSULTED?
Yes. Mystics coach Debbie Fuller revealed umpires were asked for their interpretation about one month ago and Jones confirmed the issue had also passed over her desk. "There's nothing in the rule book that would outlaw it," she said. "As long as it's in the rules of the game why would you want to stifle anything?"
4. DO YOU THINK WE COULD SEE STRAPPING ON NETBALLERS' LEGS LIKE THOSE ON RUGBY LOCKS?
Fuller: "We did think about that but Anna didn't want or need it because her standing jump is so good and the power she's getting from the lifter is very explosive."
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