International netball returns to Hamilton for the first time in eight years tonight and players can expect the right spring in their step after issues with the Claudelands Arena playing surface were addressed.
The Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic had voiced grave concerns over the surface earlier in the year, claiming it had an inconsistent bounce and left players with sore legs.
But Netball New Zealand is pleased with the small tweaks Claudelands staff have made to the way they lay the floor, and are confident the stadium's first night of test netball will be played on a surface free of any hiccups.
England play South Africa at 6.15pm and the Silver Ferns take on the Australian Diamonds at 8.25pm in the last round of the Quad Series.
Netball New Zealand operations director Kate Agnew said her organisation had a good working relationship with Claudelands and had been very involved in the construction of the venue.
She said Claudelands had also been "incredibly open" to feedback about the floating (portable) floor.
"There's quite a lot of protocols around getting to know how to lay the floor and what makes the floor perform optimally, and those are the things that Claudelands have been working through in a most dedicated manner," Mrs Agnew said.
"Certainly the more often that the floor gets put down, the more familiar and the more confident everybody gets with how it all operates."
The surface is made up of about 800 pieces of wood, which are joined together on top of a concrete base.
Hamilton City Council's event facilities director business development and marketing, Murray Jeffrey said the process of setting up the court took about eight hours and the way it was done had been refined, at no cost, to find the best result.
Mr Jeffrey said temperature and humidity were factors when putting the floor together, and that the grip of the surface had also been looked at.
Meanwhile, it's been a long time between drinks for local fans, with July 2004 the last time time the Ferns were in the city, which resulted in a win over the Aussies at Mystery Creek.
Mrs Agnew said the long break was due to the old test season often clashing with Fieldays and with a number of other venues becoming available throughout the country.
A capacity crowd of 4200 will be on hand tonight.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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