‘We need the best players’: Go defends influx of imports in Super Netball

‘We need the best players’: Go defends influx of imports in Super Netball

Australian netball bosses have defended the number of international players in the Super Netball competition amid criticism the domestic league is failing to put the nation’s best players first.

Netball Australia chair Marina Go said the involvement of the best players in the world improved the standard of the league and, as a result, the standard of Australian players. Her comments came following criticism from fans that former Diamonds captain Caitlin Bassett remains unsigned ahead of the 2022 Super Netball season.

Former Diamonds skipper Caitlin Bassett is without a Super Netball club for 2022.Credit:Getty

“When clubs are selecting their teams they are making decisions about the mix of players that will get them into the grand final,” she said.

“Since the inception of the Super Netball league it is clear that for some positions there are import players that have been selected for that reason. If we want the best league in the world, then we need the best players playing here.”

Bassett, who has player 100 Tests and won multiple gold medals across world championships and Commonwealth Games, shocked the netball world in 2020 when she left the Giants to join the New Zealand’s ANZ Premiership with the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic.

This week, her struggle to find a domestic club has prompted questions as to whether Netball Australia is prioritising imports ahead of Australian players.

Diamonds coach Stacey Marinkovich, who selected Bassett to play with the national side this year before the 33-year-old had to undergo knee surgery, believes there is a balance between supporting the development of Australian players and the interests of the domestic league.

“To be the world’s premier netball competition, the Super Netball League needs to attract the world’s best athletes,” Marinkovic said.

“It is a credit to the league that it attracts so many world-class athletes, who bring an incredible diversity in playing style and athletic ability.

“This diversity challenges super netball and Diamonds athletes to respond to various styles of international netball and importantly to develop as players.”

The NSW Swifts, who won the Super Netball title this year, had two imports as their main shooters this year in England’s Helen Housby and Sam Wallace, who is from Trinidad and Tobago.

Sarah Klau and Maddy Turner have signed on for another two seasons alongside Maddy Proud and Paige Hadley.

Coach Briony Akle said the influx of international stars was having a positive effect on the Australian game.

“By allowing not just Australian athletes, but international athletes to come in onboard, it’s helped Australian netball as well.

“The best of the best are playing each other and when you come up against them in international netball, it helps those players as they’ve already been exposed to that.

“I don’t know what’s going on with Caitlin Bassett and her signings. It will be interesting to see what happens moving forward with her.”

The Swifts have re-signed Sarah Klau and Maddy Turnerr, with Maddy Proud and Paige Hadley also having recommitted to the Swifts for the next two years. All clubs must have their 2022 rosters finalised by October 8.

Akle said her plan was to keep a core group of Swifts together in a bid to claim back-to-back titles.

“It’s just so humbling as they all obviously could have gone somewhere else, but they didn’t and they’ve chosen the red dress to continue their career,” Akle said.

“For me, I think it’s pretty special that they want to be around, they want to go back-to-back and they’ve got that goal, even though they’ve already achieved a lot.”

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